Presentations (and Life and Creativity)

It’s time I put these links up and let you see some very (in my opinion) thoughtful and delightful lectures – and on topics that are very relevant to our lives today.

The first has been around for quite a while (a week or so) – and it is quite possible you know of it already. This is a lecture in a series that was once called the Last Lecture Series (but is now called Journeys), and was given at Carnegie-Mellon University. While the series was renamed, the concept remains the same – and in this specific lecture by Dr. Randy Pausch, it was no hypothetical lecture – it was very likely his last lecture. The lecture was not just poignant, but excellent in delivery, presentation, and in content.

Do yourself a favor – listen to Randy Pausch’s lecture. Listen to the entire thing. The entire thing.

You won’t regret it – and you may find things to use in your work – and your life – and your presentations. Listen to what he says – and watch how he uses the slides. Watch how he handles “The Elephant in the Room.”

The second lecturer, Tony Buzan, is a lecturer and researcher on the mind and on creativity and learning. He speaks earnestly and deeply about the importance of creativity in the young student, attempting to encourage the audience of teachers to develop creativity in their students. Listen, too, to what he says – and how he says it. He doesn’t have the flair of Steven Jobs or the high impact delivery of Randy Pausch, but he does it well.

No ums, ahhs, or ya’know from these speakers.

I have taken to watching presentations of late, looking for and watching for quality speakers. These two educators are, while very different, with different styles and different messages, are nonetheless quality speakers.

Want to learn more? Join with the local Toastmasters.

Tips on Improving Your Public Speaking

Every system administrator should hone their public speaking skills for those times when you have to present your projects to the higher ups or train the staff on the new software.

Today, there are a variety of excellent sources of how to improve your public speaking – several from Guy Kawasaki. Guy has some tips that he received from his buddy Doug Lawrence. One he titled “Speaking as a Performing Art“, and a week later “Bite Your Tongue: Eight More Ways to Improve Your Presentations“.

Some tips that stood out to me (not in any particular order) are:

Don’t overwhelm the audience. Be entertaining but use moments of silence, soft speech, and slow cadence.

Skip the tea. Tea is an astringent and will close your voice down.

Use your eyes all the time. Hand gestures, pacing around the platform can all be useful tools in presentation, but the eyes…ah, the eyes have it!

Move away from center to make your point. When you come to a place in your presentation where you really want people’s attention, move to the left or right of your primary speaking position.

If those 15+8 tips from Guy Kawasaki weren’t enough, from Ian’s Messy Desk, Ian McKenzie has 10 ways to improve your public speaking.

As always, the ultimate place to practice public speaking is with your local Toastmasters organization. Why not join today?