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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

12 pieces of advice for giving talks that have impact

Courtney E. Martin hosts a special session called "The 19th Minute," and gives valuable insight on how to give a talk that has real impact. Photo: Marla Aufmuth/TED
Courtney E. Martin hosts a session called “The 19th Minute,” and shared valuable insight on how to give a talk that has real impact. Photo: Marla Aufmuth/TED

Sharing an idea isn’t like snapping your fingers — things don’t just instantly change. But as more people hear an idea over time, it can trickle into people’s thinking — and shifts, both subtle and extreme, can happen as a result. In a TEDWomen session called “The 19th Minute,” host Courtney E. Martin invited several guests to talk about what happened after they gave their 18-minute TED Talk — what changed, as well as what didn’t.

Deborah Rhodes spoke about the momentum her TEDWomen talk has built for using Molecular Breast Imaging rather than traditional mammography to screen for breast cancer under certain conditions. She still has a long way to go, she says, because, “mammography is very entrenched—culturally and medically.” Krista Donaldson talked about how her TEDWomen 2013 talk about a low-cost prosthetic knee led to more than 200 requests from 48 countries — and how the translation of her talk into more than 20 languages helped create that global impact.

After this, Martin shared some tips that she’s used as both a speaker and a coach. We thought they were too good not to pass on to you.
  1. Be unapologetically you. Martin warns speakers not to try to give the proverbial TED Talk. “The worst talks in the world are where someone is trying to give that talk they’ve seen before,” says Martin. “It’s fine to study your favorite TED Talks, but you don’t want to replicate them. Don’t try to be inspirational. Try to be you.” .
  2. Don’t do it all. Do one kickass thing. Martin looks at having a time limit as “a huge gift.” When she spoke at the first TEDWomen, she was given nine minutes to share her take on feminism. “It was the most important writing exercise I have ever done,” she says. “Knowing I had nine minutes to say what mattered most to me, it made me get absolutely clear on what I actually wanted to say.” .
  3. Story is queen. Instead of simply passing on information, Martin suggests thinking about how to reveal it through stories. “Stories are how we process information,” she says. “They’re how we get excited about things.” .
  4. Get sensual. When telling stories, it’s tempting to go abstract to allow them to apply to all those watching. But Martin urges speakers in the opposite direction. “Be highly specific and sensory. Give the smell, the taste, the feelings, the textures,” she says. “What’s so interesting is that people transpose their own experience onto that.” .
  5. Mind the power of threes. Three is the archetypical number for a reason, and Martin suggests thinking in trios to build arguments. “If you are trying to do too much, think about: are there three things that are most important?” she says. .
  6. Jargon is death. “That’s a little strongly worded, but it’s how I feel,” says Martin. “We spend a lot of time talking to people in our fields. But when we talk to people outside of the club, jargon is distancing. It tells us, ‘This talk is not for me.’” Martin has a clever tip for how to break through the jargon wall: Write your talk as a letter to someone who you care about, but who isn’t in your field. It can help you peel back technicality in a warm way. .
  7. Surprise your audience. “Give the counterintuitive conclusion,” says Martin. “People turn off when they think they’re hearing something too familiar. Jolt them awake.” .
  8. Be the (vulnerable) hero. “People don’t want to hear about the perfect person,” says Martin. “They love the person who has discovered something on a journey.” A few examples: Jill Bolte Taylor sharing her experience of having a stroke. Aimee Mullins revealing her feelings on the word ‘disabled.’ Martin urges speakers to reveal their flaws, wounds and even failures. .
  9. Do something scary before your talk. “Get that nervous energy out before you’re on stage,” says Martin. For her, that meant giving her talk as if it were the real thing in front of a writers group where she knew different members would be highly critical. “By the time I got to the stage, I wasn’t nearly as afraid.” .
  10. Stumble as yourself. Martin suggests a subtle re-aligning of what it means to give a successful talk. “The goal is not to give a perfect talk — perfect is boring,” she says. “What’s inspiring is a genuine person, sharing what they’re passionate about. Walk off the stage with your authentic integrity.” .
  11. Do what makes you feel badass. In a short Q&A session, an audience member asked what to wear and how to use body language. “Wear something that makes you feel badass,” says Martin. “If it’s boots, wear boots. If it’s stilettos, wear stilettos.” As for how to move, Martin says to do what feels best to you — just do it with purpose. “If you need to pace, pace intentionally,” she says. .
  12. Be okay with being scared. In the Q&A, another audience member asked Martin how she encourages speakers to deal with their fear of public speaking. “It’s people who are the most freaked out that bring that great, raw energy,” says Martin. “The biggest fear people have about public speaking is being exposed as imperfect — they’re afraid of showing their wounds, of stumbling on lines. But those are the things that an audience relates to. As a coach, my job is to steer people toward a talk that feels bravely genuine.”

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Argumentation and Persuasion Overview

When you persuade others, you use language, images, and other means of communication to influence their attitudes, beliefs, values, or actions. Persuasive speeches may address questions of fact, value, or policy. Speeches on questions of fact ask whether something is true or not true. Speeches on questions of value take a position on the worth of something. And speeches on questions of policy are concerned with what should or should not be done. Speeches on questions of fact typically are organized using topical, chronological, spatial, or cause-and-effect pattern. Speeches on questions of value are best organized using a topical, chronological, or spatial pattern. Because speeches on questions of policy ask for action or passive agreement on the part of the audience, the problem-solution, problem-cause-solution, or motivated sequence are the best patterns of organization for such speeches.
Click "read more" below for additional information and links.

Persuasive Speaking

What is persuasive speaking?
How do we persuade?
How do you prepare a persuasive speech?
What do you have to consider and understand?
What are common mistakes?
What are fallacies of argumentation?
What role does ethics play?

Image: Spy vs. Spy is the property of Mad Magazine.
Answers to these and other concepts may be found if you click "read more" below.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Message to My Freshman Students

First, I am your professor, not your teacher. There is a difference. Up to now your instruction has been in the hands of teachers, and a teacher's job is to make sure that you learn. Teachers are evaluated on the basis of learning outcomes, generally as measured by standardized tests. If you don't learn, then your teacher is blamed. However, things are very different for a university professor. It is no part of my job to make you learn. At university, learning is your job -- and yours alone. My job is to lead you to the fountain of knowledge. Whether you drink deeply or only gargle is entirely up to you.

-Keith M Parsons  
Huffington Post

Note from Art Lynch:

I could not agree more. Increasingly colleges, under pressure from local, state, national an even the US presidential level are asked to meet retention, grading and graduation targets or lose funding. Those making those decisions do not understand the difference outlined above. Students come in like consumers, expecting to be hand fed the materials as we done in our increasingly failing high schools. If you do not do so, students punish you in their faculty evaluations which are now used as a tool to terminate, deny tenure, or not rehire temorary and part time faculty. So, the mentality of university and college "teachers" over "professors" has taken root right down to the job survival level. Play to the least common denominator and not listen to or respect the expertise and experience of the faculty.

Welcome to "hire" education (not a typo).

Message to My Freshman Students

Posted: Updated:
For the first time in many years I am teaching a freshman course, Introduction to Philosophy. The experience has been mostly good. I had been told that my freshman students would be apathetic, incurious, inattentive, unresponsive and frequently absent, and that they would exude an insufferable sense of entitlement. I am happy to say that this characterization was not true of most students. Still, some students are often absent, and others, even when present, are distracted or disengaged. Some have had to be cautioned that class is not their social hour and others reminded not to send text messages in class. I have had to tell these students that, unlike high school, they will not be sent to detention if they are found in the hall without a pass, and that they are free to leave if they are not interested. Actually, I doubt that the differences between high school and university have ever been adequately explained to them, so, on the first class day of next term, I will address my new freshmen as follows:

Welcome to higher education! If you want to be successful here you need to know a few things about how this place works. One of the main things you need to know is the difference between the instructors you will have here and those you had before. Let me take a few minutes to explain this to you.
First, I am your professor, not your teacher. There is a difference. Up to now your instruction has been in the hands of teachers, and a teacher's job is to make sure that you learn. Teachers are evaluated on the basis of learning outcomes, generally as measured by standardized tests. If you don't learn, then your teacher is blamed. However, things are very different for a university professor. It is no part of my job to make you learn. At university, learning is your job -- and yours alone. My job is to lead you to the fountain of knowledge. Whether you drink deeply or only gargle is entirely up to you.
Your teachers were held responsible if you failed, and expected to show that they had tried hard to avoid that dreaded result. I am not held responsible for your failures. On the contrary, I get paid the same whether you get an "F" or an "A." My dean will not call me in and ask how many conferences I had with your parents about your progress. Indeed, since you are now an adult, providing such information to your parents would be an illegal breach of privacy. Neither will I have to document how often I offered you tutoring or extra credit assignments. I have no obligation whatsoever to make sure that you pass or make any particular grade at all.

Secondly, universities are ancient and tend to do things the old-fashioned way. In high school your education was basically a test-preparation service. Your teachers were not allowed to teach, but were required to focus on preparing you for those all-important standardized tests. Though it galls ideologues, we university professors still enjoy a large degree of academic freedom. That means that the content and format of your courses is still mostly under your professor's control, and the format will probably include a good bit of lecture, some discussion and little or no test preparation.
Lecture has come under attack recently. "Flipped learning" is the current buzz term among higher-education reformers. We old-fashioned chalk-and-talk professors are told that we need to stop being the "sage on the stage," but should become the "guide on the side," helping students develop their problem-solving skills. Lecture, we are told, is an ineffective strategy for reaching today's young people, whose attention span is measured in nanoseconds. We should not foolishly expect them to listen to us, but instead cater to their conditioned craving for constant stimulation.
Hogwash. You need to learn to listen. The kind of listening you need to learn is not passive absorption, like watching TV; it is critical listening. Critical listening means that are not just hearing but thinking about what you are hearing. Critical listening questions and evaluates what is being said and seeks key concepts and unifying themes. Your high school curriculum would have served you better had it focused more on developing your listening skills rather than drilling you on test-taking.
Finally, when you go to a university, you are in a sense going to another country, one with a different culture and different values. I have come to realize that the biggest gap between you and me is a cultural difference. I have absorbed deeply the norms and values of an ancient academic culture and they are now a part of me. You, on the other hand, come to my classes fresh from a culture with different values, one that finds academic ways strange and hard to understand.
Take the issue of documentation. For an academic, there is something sacred about a citation. The proper citation of a source is a small tribute to the hard work, diligence, intelligence and integrity of someone dedicated enough to make a contribution to knowledge. For you, citations and bibliographies are pointless hoops to jump through and you often treat these requirements carelessly. Further, our differences on the issue of giving or taking proper credit accounts for the fact that you so seldom take plagiarism as seriously as I do.
If you want to know the biggest difference between you and your professor, it is probably this: You see university as a place where you get a credential. For your professor, a university is not primarily about credentialing. Your professor still harbors the traditional view that universities are about education. If your aim is to get a credential, then for you courses will be obstacles in your path. For your professor, a course is an opportunity for you to make your world richer and yourself stronger.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A TED speaker coach shares 11 tips for right before you go on stage

Gina Barnett advises a speaker during TED2014. Below, her best last-minute public speaking tips. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED
Gina Barnett advises a speaker during TED2014. Below, her best last-minute public speaking tips. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED
The weekend before a TED conference, each speaker rehearses their talk in the TED theater. It’s a chance for the speakers to get to know the space, for our curators to give last-minute suggestions on talk content, and for our speaker coaches to give advice to help each speaker feel their absolute best the day of their talk. During this time, we overheard speaker coaches Gina Barnett, Michael Weitz and Abigail Tenenbaum give a few extraordinarily helpful tips that we’d never heard before.
We asked Gina Barnett, longtime TED speaker coach and author of the upcoming book Play the Part: Master Body Signals to Connect and Communicate for Business Success (to be released in June), to share some specifics:
  1. Start drinking water 15 minutes before you start talking. If you tend to get dry mouth — that scratchy feeling where it’s hard to swallow — start drinking water 15 minutes before you go onstage. Why? Because the microphone will pick up that sticky, clicky sound. “When you close your mouth, don’t let your tongue hit the roof of your mouth,” Barnett offers as a pro tip to avoid popping audio. “Imagine a half a plum on your tongue, which will keep a vacuum from forming.” .
  2. Psych yourself up, not out. Barnett warns that negative self-talk can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So don’t stand backstage thinking, “What if I mess up?” Think more like an athlete before a big game, she says. Psych yourself up with phrases like, “I’m so excited!” “It’ll be great!” “I can’t wait to share this idea!” Basically, whatever key phrase makes you feel happy. “Even just thinking the word ‘YES!’ over and over — feel how the thought enters your body and boosts your confidence,” she says. .
  3. Use your body’s nervous energy for good. Don’t try to contain all your nervous energy. Let it move through you and energize you for your talk. Do isometrics while you waiting backstage if it helps. Shake your hands out. Barnett remembers one TED speaker who found a private corner backstage to put on headphones and dance — and that speaker walked onstage feeling like a rockstar. And, if nothing else, always remember TED star Amy Cuddy and how to power pose. .
  4. Focus on your breath when you feel the adrenaline. What should you do if you feel the panic of nerves? “Breeeeeathe,” says Barnett, extending the sound. “Weʼre often not aware of how shallow our breath becomes when weʼre nervous or stressed.” The exercise Barnett recommends: “Take three or four conscious, evenly-paced, smooth inhalations and exhalations. Let the belly go and let the breath go all the way down into your abdomen. This can center your energy and focus your thoughts.” .
  5. Beware of repetitive motion. On stage, people often deal with adrenaline by unconsciously swaying or shifting their weight from foot to foot. This is not good. “Repetitive movements are distracting and set up a lullaby pattern in the audience’s brain,” says Barnett. The best way to make sure you aren’t doing this? Rehearse in front of people, who can point it out to you. And also rehearse out loud in front of a mirror to self-diagnose. .
  6. Think about how to use movement wisely. “You can walk,” says Barnett, “but not pace. You can step forward and or back, but not rock.” These are just as bad as swaying — they create that lull. Barnett has a great tip for how to make sure that you move in a way that adds to your talk rather than detracts from it. “Practice moving to make a new point,” she says. “Try coming closer to the audience when the content of your talk calls for it.” One technique she likes for this — rehearse while standing on newspapers spread out on the floor. You’ll be able to hear your movement as the paper crunches so you can really move “with intention and purpose.” .
  7. Use your tone to strengthen your words. Merge your tone with the topic of your speech, says Barnett. Don’t deliver great news in a monotone voice or serious news too excitedly, as disjunctions like that will distract the audience. Barnett recommends going through your script and tagging what each piece of news means. By doing that, you can focus on how your tone can strengthen the message, rather than undermine what you are trying to get across. .
  8. Give people a chance to adjust to your accent. Everyone has an accent — at least, when someone else is listening. Luckily, TED has a global audience and is very comfortable with hearing different varieties of speech. That said, speakers can make their accents more accessible to listeners all over the world. Barnett’s advice: keep your opening sentences slow and over-enunciated, so the audience can adapt to the way you speak. “Our ears are trained to adjust to accents,” says Barnett. .
  9. Focus on something outside of yourself. Barnett has a favorite exercise for someone who is just about to go onstage: she calls it “focusing out.” She explains: “Pick anything — like the color green — and look all around you to see where you spot it in the room. Or pick an object to observe. Notice what shoes people are wearing, or whoʼs wearing a watch. Or try paying attention to how light reflects off surfaces.” Doing something like this will shift the focus from what’s going on in your body and mind to something outside. It can definitely help you relax. .
  10. Remember that the audience likes you. As Barnett says, “The TED audience — as big, scary and remote as they may seem — is totally on your side. They want you to have a good time up there, they want to hear your ideas, even if they don’t agree with them, and they want you to succeed.” Enough said.
  11. And finally, no matter how well you prepare — be okay with the unexpected. You may forget a word; someone may drop something backstage; there might be a technical difficulty. Take a moment, breathe deeply and just roll with it. As one TED speaker laughed today as her slides spiraled out of order in rehearsal: “It’s just about having fun, right?”

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Maslow's Needs and more fom NPR's TED Radio Hour

Maslow's Human Needs  Humans need food, sleep, safety, love, purpose. Psychologist Abraham Maslow ordered our needs into a hierarchy. This week, TED speakers explore that spectrum of need, from primal to profound.

i Bigstock

Maslow's Human Needs

Humans need food, sleep, safety, love, purpose. Psychologist Abraham Maslow ordered our needs into a hierarchy. This week, TED speakers explore that spectrum of need, from primal to profound.