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Tips For Adulthood: Seven Secrets To Giving A Good Talk

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. I’m getting ready to teach another journalism workshop next week. When you teach, it’s...

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I’m getting ready to teach another journalism workshop next week. When you teach, it’s tempting to try and cram every last bit of information you know on a given topic into your lecture (plus some extra for good measure).

Even though – as I’ve noted before, less really is more when it comes to teaching–  part of my own creative process requires me to sift through the 6,000 pieces of information I’ve amassed for a given talk before painstakingly reducing them to the optimal set of bullet points. It’s just the way I work.

Which is why it was so enormously helpful to me that Colleen Wainwright’s monthly newsletter landed in my inbox today just as I was sitting down to write my first lecture. If you don’t know Colleen, she pens the fabulous Communicatrix blog which I link to quite regularly on RealDelia and is one of my absolute faves.

In her newsletter, Colleen offers tips on how to improve your communication skills (written/oral/whatever) and I can’t recommend it highly enough. (Bonus – It’s free!) This month’s topic was nominally about how to prepare a talk when you have very little time. But if you read through her suggestions, they’re really all about how to give a good talk regardless of how much time you have to prepare it.

So this week’s tips list is going to be cribbed from Colleen. Instead of offering my own tips for giving a good talk, I’m going to link to Colleen’s list, because I found it so inspiring and so *exactly* what I needed to hear this morning as I put the proverbial rubber to the road.

There are lots of gems in here, but the most valuable one for me was #7 – which is that when you invariably hit that “Oh God! What have I done? How can I possibly pull this off?” moment in the midst of your preparation, you need to remember that this isn’t about you, it’s about whoever is coming to listen to you speak. It’s about asking yourself ” What can I do for these people? How can I help them out? How can I make them feel?” And if you reorient your talk around that idea, everything else will flow.

So without further ado, let me turn you over to Colleen and her seven secrets to giving a good talk.

(And yes, I’m cheating. But I prefer to think of it as a serendipitous guest blog post by one of the best self-development gurus out there.)

We will resume our normal tips list next week.



Image: 50/365 – School by foreverdigital via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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  1. daryl boylan June 10, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    Your blog-friend is right on — 1 other useful point. Be very aware of audience reaction & play off it — the more they become involved, the better for you.

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