We’ve all tried explaining something that we’re clueless about to someone. Often it’s very clear what’s happening and we lack believability. Often you aren’t clueless about something you haven’t done. You can actually know a ton about it–but it can appear that you’re in the clueless category. Having directly done something when trying to convince others to do it adds an absurd amount of credibility and allows you to be far more of an authority..
Although I hate to admit it, the Write a Book in a Day event that Zack and I did this past weekend had far less planned out than a 10 hour event probably should have. However, our two participants were very excited and already trusted us a decent amount due to either attending or hearing of past events. This allows us to have a less polished and structured approach and their trusting of the process allows them to still have a great time even if it wasn’t seamless or perfect.
Have you ever tried to eat better without tracking what better meant? I have many times, and I normally seem to regress back to previous habits. If I do make some change that stays for a medium length of time it’s usually slight. I know not everyone is into data, but taking data about anything you want to change is not only a great way to track progress, but to accurately figure out what the problem is. Back to food, having a vague sense of needing to eat better is completely different then knowing a breakdown of how many calories you ate each day as well as the distribution of food groups.
In an older and more formal style of presenting, all of the information coming out of your mouth is also in writing on the slides. Sometimes this lingers, particularly in the technical corners of academia. This has been a struggle for me because in lab presentations the professors often don’t actually listen to what you say, and instead try to read the text. Then, any clarifications made through your words that’s not on the slides is lost and the presentation may be deemed incomplete or unclear.
Stop saying um so much. There’s a few ways to get around this, but my favorite is to just talk slower. So many people talk very fast and have a fairly high percentage of filler words so the sentence takes nearly the same time. Talking slower sounds a bit more intentional, controlled, and emphatic. Add in some pauses for emphasis.
Adding an activity to what would otherwise be a lecture sometimes feels like a stretch. In Workshop Open Mic, one of our participants was very confused as to how they might add an activity to a 15 minute workshop about the history of military submarines. At first I almost agreed with him–it felt contrived and awkward forcing an activity in there. When we demo’d the workshops, his was a ton of fun as he had us building small models of and guessing the shape of the first submarine and why it failed so many times. This was a great way to solidify the points and add so much engagement to an otherwise absurdly boring subject.
While deciding upon whether a specific pre-workshop activity was appropriate, I went down the list of all the potential sounds I was prepared to make for this sound-driven activity. Despite animal sounds being an absolutely minuscule percentage of all possible sounds, they made up about 40% of what I thought of at the time. I suspect that I was subconsciously limiting myself for no good reason.