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On this day..

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2 Responses to links for 2008-05-24

  1. Grant Mudge says:

    Dear Wes,

    Enjoyed your speech–as a fellow Educator who also serves as Artistic Director of a Shakespeare theatre company, I follow as many people talking about creativity as I can. Would $.02 from a public speaking teacher be helpful? Don’t worry, you did great. Your construct, freeing from the ‘podium-tether,’ is terrific. We can all improve though, and I hope you’ll find this (admittedly unsolicited!) feedback helpful. (BTW, I love “shift happens,” and show it to all my students. You condensed that really well. Also, love the T-bird image, “200 feet off the deck.” Fantastic!)

    I particularly love ‘don’t be afraid to fail.’ Theatre training is about risking failure, risking mistakes and risking looking foolish. It’s a terrific point.

    1. You use vocalized pauses at transitions. “Kay?” and “Uh” are the most frequent. (Note, interestingly, you don’t seem to use “Um.”) These have the cumulative effect of conveying that you’re uncertain of your speech’s worth. Of course that’s not the case, but the effect is there. Recommendation: practice those transitions. Blast confidence there, from one topic to the next. Do it just with tone, as you did on “and so our company’s in the middle of a revolution..” It’s a transition tone on the words themselves—specifically, as you speak the text of your next point, a change in pitch and tone. If you feel the audience is not with you, ask a direct question. Avoid the “Kay?” Speaking of which:

    2. Your rehtorical questions (cell phone, keys, $100 laptop, etc.) are fun, however they sound a bit pedantic, and they trail off too far. Recommendation: Either adopt fully the “topic reveal” moment, (i.e., “audience, you don’t know where I’m going but it’ll be worth getting there.”) or immediately find an element of humor or reflection to make the question more personal. Your stories of real people were great—missing among them are more personal anecdotes from yourself. Personal connection. (Like “I”m talking to you,” at the end of your speech.

    3. Humor is lacking. I’m sure you’ve seen this, but let me suggest Kenneth Robinson (author of “Epiphanies”) as an example. (www.sirkenrobinson.com) He has planned a laugh into the text of his speech about 2-3 *per minute.* He also has great emotional connect-points w/audience. Check out his video from the TED & PLAY conferences. (2006 again–we were really discovering something in that year, weren’t we?)

    4. Lastly, is it odd that the Education director for the #1 Wireless provider in the country, (with 70 million subscribers), delivers a speech whose primary metaphor is freeing from the ‘tether’ of institutional learning to be speaking with a long microphone cable locking him to a sound system like a leash?

    You can’t be “tethered” by what the venue tells you. Figure out a way to free your hands and go wireless.

    Unsolicited, hope it’s helpful.

    Grant Mudge
    Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School
    and Richmond Shakespeare
    Richmond, VA

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Grant: Thanks SO much for this feedback! I sincerely appreciate it. Yes, more humor laced in regularly in the speech would be good and is really a necessity for a presentation like this… I need to work on that “Kay?” and “Uh” habit for transitions also… I’ve noticed this before recently listening to recordings of myself. I’ll put that on the top of my “fix it” list for presentations. The irony of being “wired” for a speech with a theme (which honestly was not planned in advance) about being “untethered” was with me as well… If they’d had a wireless mic to use it would have been much better to use one for sure! The student who was running the video camera I tapped into wasn’t expecting me to wander around from the podium so much… She did a pretty good job following me, but watching this I wondered if maybe my movement distracted more than added to my message?

    How wonderful to be able to receive feedback like this from you…. A huge benefit of being able to record and share presentations like this! Thanks so much for taking the time to share such thoughtful and helpful suggestions.

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