There was another speaker who was much better than me.
He had all of us roaring with laughter. I seemed awkward and halting by comparison. Afterward I put my talk online like I usually do. This confuses entertainment with expression. There are different tricks to use in each form, but an essay can make you laugh, or make you angry, or make you hit the Facebook like button, despite not saying much, or anything at all. But this is a failing of all mediums, including writing. A few years later I heard a talk by someone who was not merely a better speaker than me, but a famous speaker.
On Writing vs. Speaking
Boy was he good. These are a handful of great thinkers who used speaking as a primary medium of expression. I have to stop here to acknowledge that the history of thinking was spoken. The Ancient Greeks, where many of our big ideas still come from, talked. Talking and thinking have a much older relationship than writing and thinking. Many ideas at many startups are discovered, shared and developed through spoken words. Life is mostly spoken, not written.
Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking
This is where Graham, whose work I admire, makes a big mistake. Why then does he feel qualified to give advice on how to do it well? The majority of speakers fail at this, focusing on what they themselves wish to speak about, or what their slides will look like, rather than their audience. Speaking, like writing, is an ego trap. What stories did they come to hear? If you understand why your audience showed up at all, and deliver on it, you will keep their attention.
A speaker who studies the audience and puts together content that addresses their interests will always do well.
Before I give a talk I can usually be found sitting in a corner somewhere with a copy printed out on paper, trying to rehearse it in my head. But I always end up spending most of the time rewriting it instead. I would never do this. I stay up late the night before, if needed, to finish preparing. This comfort allows me to be fully present with an audience and not worried about my knowledge of my own material. This is also how I ad-lib or change directions based on a live audience.
I do agree with Graham in some ways. But unlike Graham, I love both forms. I know I become a better writer every time I speak, and become a better speaker every time I write. Related : An open letter to speakers , which gives specific practical advice on speaking.
Speech and Essay Outlines [Free Examples]
Great advice, Scott. I take your advice in the book to heart and practice extensively during the week before one of my talks—even if I know the material well. Loved this post Scott.
Two different skills that mastering can have two different affects on the people around you. I saw Mr. Part of my problem is that I think in pictures, rather than words. I also believe audiences are becoming more sophisticated and more demanding of speakers. Well, not all speakers. You need to own the domain; know your content so well that you can converse with the audience — joyfully weaving in bits of story and oft-recited content that it feels extemporaneous — even though you have poured hours into crafting it just for them.
I do like to know the first minute or two of my opening. And I do like to write down all say slide transitions in advance, but mostly to make sure the presentation flows. The thing I find MOST fascinating about speaking is just how different my practices are than my actual presentation. If you know the material well, it is just remarkably different. Original Title.
Essays, Speeches & Public Letters by William Faulkner
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- Selecting Your Topic.
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Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 07, Nick marked it as to-read. Faulkner's speech upon accepting 's Nobel Prize for Literature: "Ladies and gentlemen, "I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work - a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before.
So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate wi Faulkner's speech upon accepting 's Nobel Prize for Literature: "Ladies and gentlemen, "I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work - a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin.
But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion.
His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
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