Public Speaking (Intermediate)

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In this episode, Jill and Steve talk about public speaking.

Steve: Hi, Jill.

Jill: Hi, again.

Steve: You know, I want to talk a little bit about public speaking.

I mentioned this on my blog but last night I was at a dinner.

It was the annual meeting of the Japan-Canada Chamber of Commerce and I didn’t realize this but we had our meeting from 6 to 7.

The Chairman of the Chamber had arranged for the Consul General, the Japanese Consul General, to come and speak at 7 o’clock to the members and then at 7:30 the barbeque was going to begin on the garden terrace of a very nice hotel.

Sounds like a nice evening?

Jill: Sure does.

Steve: Alright.

Our Chairman managed to keep the Consul General waiting for half an hour which to me is unbelievable; unbelievable that you would invite the Consul or anyone…invite them to speak to your group and keep them waiting while you dealt with internal matters. It’s just not done.

I don’t care if it’s your general meeting or a meeting where you are having coffee at home with your friends you just don’t invite someone and keep them waiting.

Jill: No.

Steve: Common courtesy.

Jill: Right.

Steve: That’s an expression.

Jill: Common courtesy, yes.

Steve: Common courtesy. You can also talk about common sense.

Jill: Which a lot of people don’t have.

Steve: So, we’re now a half hour late. At this point, I’m hungry. Okay?

It’s 7:30 and suddenly I’m told we have the Consul General here to talk to us.

I had invited my wife and another couple to the barbeque because this was open to other people so now they have to wait for the Consul General to give his speech.

So the Consul General then came and spoke in Japanese, which is fine, with English slides and he spoke for 45 minutes.

So, what I’m leading to is I came across on the Internet a blog post, which is also in YouTube, by a person called Guy Kawasaki.

Have you heard of Guy Kawasaki?

Jill: No, no I haven’t.

Steve: Guy Kawasaki is very famous.

He writes books on how to make money and how to be successful and how to do everything you ever wanted to do.

Jill: I don’t read those kind of books.

Steve: Okay.

No, I don’t either but I found this and he gave a…in fact, I saw this YouTube and what he said basically was that if you are ever giving a presentation you have the 10-20-30 rule.

Ten is the maximum number of PowerPoint slides.

No more than 10; very, very good suggestion.

The 20 refers to 20 minutes.

Never speak longer than for 20 minutes and the 30 refers to the 30 point, you know, fonts – font points – whatever; make it big.

Two advantages: 1) there’s less for people to read and 2) they can read it.

Jill: They can see it.

Steve: So as I sat there listening to this Consul General drone on about things that were of no interest to anyone I just kept on saying to myself 10-20-30.

So, that’s my first comment.

What is your reaction to all of that?

Jill: I don’t know what I would have done.

I would have been starving and you probably didn’t eat until 9 o’clock.

Steve: 8:30.

8:30; the sun had gone down.

We were going to have a nice sunset barbeque and we ended up with a barbeque in the dark.

Jill: See, I wouldn’t be too anxious to go back to another one of those meetings.

Steve: So, I think the thing about public speaking is…a couple of things that sort of stuck with me there: one is the need to simplify and so 20 minutes is max.

Unless you’re a member of the communist party of some country where you can talk for six hours 20 minutes is max.

The second thing I noticed was in that YouTube of Guy Kawasaki and others that I’ve seen on the Internet I find that I only remember what they said at the beginning.

Have you had that experience?

Jill: Yeah.

I mean I even think back to university courses where the teachers are up there lecturing and your attention span only lasts so long.

That’s why a lot of the classes were 50 minute classes which is still a long time but then you get into the two hour classes and sure you get a five minute break or something but most people I think are thinking about other things.

Steve: You know, I think too if you are in class you know you have to learn about what the professor is talking about because you have to write an exam.

Jill: Except for you also know that with a lot of professors they are just basically verbatim repeating what’s in your textbook so you know you can just go read your textbook and find out all the same information.

Steve: But it made me think, you know.

I sat there listening to the Consul General for 45 minutes.

I mean, I was a prisoner, right?

I couldn’t leave.

He had me.

We’re captive.

I don’t have to listen.

I probably could close my eyes but that would be impolite so I’m stuck.

But if I go on the Internet and I’ve now got this Google Reader set up so I’m getting these feeds from different blogs and podcast and whatever…say I’m reading something or I can look at a YouTube like Guy Kawasaki or Seth Golden who is another one of these gurus of marketing or anybody who has anything to say — Steve Kaufmann talking about language learning – it doesn’t matter, if I don’t like him or her she’s gone; she’s gone.

I am not a prisoner of that person.

That person has to try to capture my attention early,

Jill: …right away;

Steve: probably has to say it fairly soon because after three minutes — even if she’s good — I’m gone, probably.

You know, what else is there out there?

I’m not going to spend my whole afternoon listening to one person.

So, that’s a totally different discipline and it enables you to…like I can now with Google Reader I can get feeds from people that I think have something to say whether it be in writing or a video.

They may not have something useful to say everyday and the day they are not interesting I just shut them off and I go to someone else.

That’s an awfully good discipline.

The public speaker has an audience.

The audience is not going to go away; however, the audience can turn their mind off.

I can check my BlackBerry.

I can start doodling about new ideas for The Linguist so I can make Mark’s life more difficult.

So, I think it is very…I just came away from that…first of all, Guy Kawasaki’s idea stuck in my mind: max 20 minutes; max 10 slides; maximum.

When I say max it’s maximum 10 slides; maximum 20 minutes; large font; a few points on the PowerPoint.

Don’t write a book on the PowerPoint.

People can’t read it and they start losing it.

So those are some simple ideas.

So, I think, you know, if we’re in a sales presentation or any other sort of presentation I think the idea of having a few simple ideas that are delivered early and that you keep it short I think these are good ideas.

Now, let me ask you, were you required at university to make speeches or presentations?

Jill: Yeah, I was.

I think mostly in…I’m just trying to remember now…in my French classes for sure.

In all the French literature classes there was always at least one presentation per class per semester.

Steve: What would your presentation be on?

Jill: You know, I can’t even really remember.

Some of them were group present projects; presentations.

Others were things, you know, something I had to prepare on my own and I honestly…obviously it didn’t stick with me very long but I can’t even really remember what sorts of things I talked about.

I wasn’t really that interested.

So, I did have to do them.

I had to do them for my psychology courses as well which was more interesting to me because you’ve got theories you can talk about and, you know, you learn about different things.

So, those ones I actually enjoyed them.

I mean in one of my psychology courses we had a choice between writing a paper…which I hate; I hate writing…so, we could write a paper or we could do an oral presentation.

And I think out of the however many people were in my course, myself and maybe two other people, chose to do the presentation because most people are afraid of public speaking.

And I thought are you kidding me.

All I have to do is go up and stand up there for ten minutes and…sure you have to prepare, you have to think, you have to know what you are going to say but I don’t know, whatever…I was up there for maybe 10 minutes maybe 15 minutes as opposed to having to write a 10 or 15 page essay and I thought that was just the greatest thing.

I was so happy to have that option.

After having done so many presentations and in French which is so much harder than doing it in my native language that was just a piece of cake for me.

And I think that we were graded easier too because there were only a few of us that were brave enough to do this.

So, I never really had a problem with public speaking but I haven’t done it now for a long time so I think to do it now would probably cause me a little bit more anxiety.

Steve: Well that’s interesting. Why?

Because maybe we’ll have to get you to do some presentations on The Linguist.

Why would you have greater anxiety now than you had as a student?

Jill: Because I’m out of practice.

I’m not used to speaking to groups of people anymore.

So for a period of time there, for several years, I had to do it quite often; every year.

I haven’t had to do it for quite a few years now so I’m not so comfortable anymore.

Steve: Okay.

But, again, as you say it’s probably just a matter of getting used to it like so many things and maybe when you do you’ll be guided by the principles of Guy Kawasaki.

And, you know…well, I’ve said before that I don’t necessarily believe in all these 10 best ways to do this and 8 ways to be happy and so forth but there is a lot of good information on the Internet.

You have to sort through it but there are some people with some very useful advice and it’s free.

You don’t have to buy a book; it’s free.

And I think if I wanted to look up public speaking or presentations I could probably find a lot of free and very useful information by people who have other motives like Guy Kawasaki.

He likes to promote his blog and his podcast.

I don’t fully understand the business model but he sells books and he’s a public speaker and whatever.

It doesn’t matter but as part of that he offers a lot of information free.

We at LingQ also off a lot of ideas, information, content and a whole bunch of stuff free as part of our whole business model because in the long run we would like more people to find out about us; to come and see for themselves and hopefully sign up and study with us.


Well, that was just a brief chat about public speaking.

Again, given that people only remember the first little bit I’m not sure what people will take from this discussion but there you go.

Thanks, Jill.

Jill: Thanks.

See you soon.

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