When I found myself frustrated after studying for my Quantitative Research Methods Final Exam all day, I knew it was time to take a break and to do some pleasure reading. Because I’ve been reading and re-reading books to decide on a new class textbook for our Public Speaking course, I haven’t been keeping up with my favorite blogs. This afternoon was a great time to play catch-up!
Ethos3 is always a great place to turn for short and sweet, insightful articles about public speaking and presentation. I missed quite a few good ones including “Great Presenters Do A SWOT Analysis” and “Recover From Presentation Disasters.” My favorite recent article, though, is “Improve Your Presentation Skills With Sales Techniques.” This was a great piece to share with my business students who will link presentation skills to sales much more often in their careers than I do in mine as a teacher. Ethos3 suggests that presenters remember 1) to begin with the end in mind, 2) to always be closing, and 3) to follow up (Source).
It would also appear that in addition to being public speaking and presentation gurus, Ethos3 has learned the secret to everlasting, eternal life… Somehow, they recruited Aristotle to write the blog posts mentioned above! :)
I also read a terrific article called “Simple Is Not Stupid” from Janice Tomich’s Calculated Presentations. This was such a great read because this is something we often forget. My students will occasionally fall into the trap of trying to talk about too much, trying to talk “too big” for the audience, when simplicity is the most important part of a great speech. Tomich says, “When we simplify content we make it easy for our audience to understand…they don’t have to struggle with teasing apart concepts and intent. Remember that your audience is being bombarded with auditory and physical information when you present to them. You know it intimately. They don’t” (Source).
A few semesters ago, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I had a student who wanted to talk about social constructionism for his 5:00 Ignite-style presentation. I was immediately concerned because I had taken a four-month course on that same subject and had only scratched the surface. Despite warning this student that he needed to focus on simplicity and one tiny piece of the theory, Philosophical Student decided to try to compile a history lesson and an argument that we should accept this theory and apply it to our own lives in 5 minutes. Needless to say, it didn’t work. From this experience, I’ve learned to help students approach conceptual, theory-based topics in a simpler way. Why? Because if the audience doesn’t already have a knowledge base in the area, they will be confused from start to finish. As Tomich says, and as I teach my students, you can simplify your presentation by 1) always thinking about your audience, 2) removing the expert jargon, and 3) examining the outcome you want (Source). Simplicity, as Garr Reynolds tells us, is not stupidity – it is elegance.
What great articles did you read over the long Thanksgiving weekend?