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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

I’ve watched a lot of you on video, both seated and on a stage. Three things pop out at me. First, you use a lot of odd public-speaking gestures that don’t quite line up with or exactly seem to go with the point you are making, rather like Spaulding Gray in David Byrne’s True Stories. As with Gray, however, the effect of all the hands raised up or fingers pointing into palms or making circular motions at random moments is rather mesmerizing and makes me pay more attention. Second, your speaking style is a bit stilted. Yet you make up for it brilliantly through a rich vocabulary, a careful erudition, and through conveying a sense of the overarching structure of your remarks, no matter how long they are. As Byrne said once in a song lyric, I want to talk like I read. And you do. Lastly, you tend to repeat yourself, even from one talk to another, rather like Dexter Gordon or Thelonious Monk returning to a favoured riff or quote. The effect serves to make what you say more memorable and conveys a vision that connects all your speeches and writings. A lot of effective public intellectuals do this, from Noam Chomsky to Jordan Peterson. If you’ve heard them a few times, you get their overall vision. As a communicator, you are in good company. Ever thought about running for office? haha

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Love it, Ted! I do jazz history presentations, and I learned long ago that the audience doesn’t come for the slides, but for me. They want warm blood, and humor, and life. I’ve been told over and again, “Your enthusiasm is contagious.” Recently one of them told me, “I never liked jazz until today.”

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Professor Irwin Corey would usually start a speech with "Furthermore..." It got your attention.

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He would know. He was the World's Foremost Authority. I was in the house band at the Hungry Eye in San Fran. when he worked there. I almost wet my pants laughing at the things he said and did.

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As an audio guy, I’d ask speakers to be mindful of communicating with the sound person running front of house. Lavaliers have a bad tendency to feed back and going into the audience / in front of the speakers makes it almost guaranteed to happen. Handheld mics are better, but the same rules apply.

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Aug 11, 2022·edited Aug 11, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

This is the best advice list on public speaking I have ever read. Im a former long time music radio host and concert M.C and have taught many of them too. I'm thrilled to read this! And say with great enthusiasm that everything on your list rings true. Also -- First I am so glad you left out the old war horse speaking rule: "talk as if you are speaking to one person" which is a sort of crutch that never turns into training wheels so to speak. After all "you are NOT" talking to your lover, best friend or grandma. One size does not fit all! Second - You can paint a better picture with a few well chosen words than a deck of 20 slides will ever paint, Why? Because you've painted the image in the audience's minds where they are indelible and will not be forgotten. And finally, I loved that you say that the audience wants you to be human, connect in a feedback loop that can only be descibed as "be here now" ---so true! Not everybody can be funny. But if you can forget yourself and be "with" your audience in the moment, even when something goes wrong they are there with you, understand you and will love the connection you make. I only wish teachers taught classrooms from this perspective. Thanks for this great post. Good show!

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

I like your ten advice tips. I often found in my experience that editing was crucial…too short is not as bad as too long. Also, a good talk has three basic parts: 1. Tell them what you are going to tell them; 2. Tell them; and 3. Tell them what you told them.

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founding

When I went back after university to teach at my former boarding school (at which I first met you, Ted), I found myself composing the first draft of a recommendation for one of my advisees, which the school would send with his college applications. He was a day student, and I did not have much contact with him so I conducted an interview.

I learned that he was quite an accomplished pianist and had won several Santa Barbara competitions. When I asked if he planned to continue in that pursuit in his college years, he told me he had taken up guitar instead. I asked why, and he replied that it was a lot easier to carry around than a piano. I took that not only as a good chuckle, but an indication of the resourcefulness and practicality of this student, so I included it in the draft. In a faculty review of the recommendation (in a room full of many who had been teachers you and I had in common a scant six years earlier), I was met with scowls and disdain at my audacity to include something so undignified as joke in such a solemn statement.

They chose to excise the line, but I also knew a few people who were in college admissions (including a very prominent Dean of Admissions, Fred Hargadon). They all concurred with me that including the anecdote would have been fine, if not an advantage. Those who have had to slog through stacks of applications during the admissions period know the soporific effects caused by the self-serving and often sanctimonious droning which is common in many apps. Such a giggle might stir someone from an otherwise blurry-eyed night, and discern that student from the crowd.

All of which is a long winded way of agreeing whole-heartedly with rule number five!

Additionally (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) -- before the litany of complaints begins regarding your use of the word 'podium' as opposed to 'lectern' in rule 1 - let me point out that rule 2 includes going into the audience -- off the raised platform (which IS a podium) and so your choice of words does apply.

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Aug 11, 2022·edited Aug 11, 2022Author

Lex, I always defer to you when it comes to words and etymologies. I still recall your extraordinary daily performances in Mr. Woodworth's Latin class, where you were on top of every phrase and idiom, while I was struggling just to sing the words to "Gaudeamus Igitur."

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founding

And my senior year proved to be the final lap for the study of Latin at Cate. That particular year, Stan Woodworth had been named interim headmaster (following Fred Clark's sudden dismissal).

Stan conducted class that year in the headmaster's office, which, ironically, would be the the very place a few years later in which the aforementioned tale of my draft's peer review occurred. Studying Latin in that setting was much more fun.

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Thank you for acknowledging the worth of professional wrestlers!

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“note that if you buy a book of the 100 greatest speeches of all time, you will discover that none of them were accompanied by a slide presentation.” Haha—great!

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Ah, this is wonderful! My earliest training in public speaking was in high school as a member of The Future Farmers of America. There were various speech contests. And our agriculture teacher/coach/mentor was adamant about staying away from the podium. He was so passionate about it that it made us kids passionately anti-podium, as well. We (the kids, not our teach) invented a reminder to yell at one another, “Stop f**king the podium!” To this day, four decades later, I find myself thinking that when I see a poor public speaker.

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Now I could ramble on and on, but damn, Ted, what a great story!

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

I wish I had your rules while in grad school.

Thanks Ted!

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Great advice. Could help many of us who struggle with such endeavours

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Great perspective. I have a project coming up where this type of advice will get me through.

Thanks,

John Patterson

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I did a lot of theater when I was young, and spent later years lecturing to undergrads about theoretical computer science. (Yeah, I know that's kind of a WAT).

I endorse all of these rules. I never actually invaded space, but I would threaten it, by moving closer or further away. Math like things don't mix well with too much emotion, after all.

Later on, I gave a few technical talks, and I used slides, but never handed them out. I did not use a lot of slides, but relied on reveals on a "single" slide more. And I relied on my own movement and voice to capture and direct attention.

In theater, the audience's attention is always bouncing from one actor to another, that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing, it keeps them fresher. So the slides are another performer in your show. You hand attention to them, and they hand attention back to you. (You do it by leading with posture and gaze. The slides do it by mostly being boring and just sitting there doing nothing.)

I grew up in a large extended family that loved humor and jokes. I started telling jokes to them at maybe age 10. It's good. It works for me. But if you can't make your friends laugh at a joke, don't try it in a speech.

One bit of advice I recall is for a more formal speech (such as the one I gave at my very small high schools graduation) was write it down, then throw it away or don't look at it. Memorized lines can seem spontaneous, that's what actors do. They ad-lib, too. But it isn't important whether you have it memorized exactly. Mostly I just used an outline, or lecture notes (some details have to be presented in a specific order - it's math, after all).

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Aug 11, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

My Dad, in his seemingly infinite wisdom, explained how to give a speech when I took a speech class in eighth grade. He said I needed to know everything I could possibly know about the subject, and things will go smoothly... because you don't need notes, just bullet points that way. He was correct, and that advice has served me well for almost five decades. I think Ted's advice will be added should I need to speak in front of people again; working remotely tends to make that unlikely.

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