Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

11/20/2005

Moebius Stripper’s Guide to Public Speaking

File under: Sound And Fury, Welcome To The Occupation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 11:02 am.

Actually, there’s only one point, and it is this: An essay and a speech are different media. If you’re going to drag several dozen people to a different city to hear your talk, rather than just giving them essays to read, you need to justify the time and expense involved. When your presentation consists of you just reading an essay you wrote, your message is not best delivered as a speech. It is not even best delivered as a speech if:

  • It is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation that consists entirely of excerpts from the very paper you are reading.

  • You periodically glance up at your audience for a tenth of a second at a time, to make it look like you’re giving a speech rather than reading from a paper.

  • You write faux spontaneity directly into your essay. This includes, but it not limited to:

    • Jokes of any type.
    • On the spot “observations” such as “You all look very excited to be here.” When you can’t even look up at your audience when you say that line, it loses a shred of credibility.
    • The line “This award comes as a complete surprise to me, so I didn’t prepare a speech.” Dude, you’re not fooling anyone: you walked up to the podium with a goddamn folder, for crying out loud, which you proceeded to open and then read from FOR TEN MINUTES. You even read that line from the folder.
  • Its title is Effective Teaching: Nurturing Active Learners. Tell me, do you think that you are underlining or undermining your message when you deliver your findings by monotonously reading a paper at your audience for two straight hours without interacting with them? Me, I’m gonna have to go with undermining.

(In other, unrelated news, the business conference was superfantastic and not painful at all! But it’s good to be back at home so that I can blog about things that have nothing to do with the conference and were not in any way inspired by it.)