Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Thinking vs Writing vs Talking: keynote edition 

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Dominique Joseph is a gem. She shared this post with me and something totally clicked in my head. The gist of what Will Myddelton is writing is that when we transfer our thoughts into speech for others to hear/discuss, the thoughts are transformed and often clarified. And he says from talking to writing it becomes even more clarified. 

It gave me an epiphany. About myself and something I have been stuck on. But all the epiphanies first 

  1. I usually go straight from thinking to writing, but my writing is mostly stream of consciousness, so it’s really closer to talking! 
  2. I definitely think better after discussing things and that’s why social media matters to me and Virtually Connecting. Without these, I don’t have enough sounding boards for my crazy thoughts
  3. When we talk about something we are going to write it is sometimes a tough transition because it looks different when you write it
  4. When we write about something we are going to talk about we may be losing parts of the animation potential it has.

And the two big epiphanies

  1. For my OER17 keynote i have been mainly writing my ideas but I will be speaking them at the conference. I have mostly taken feedback on parts of it via Twitter and Slack by sharing ideas as writing. Surprisingly, i feel better about the keynote each time I talk about it with someone who isn’t in open education. The latter was an idea Christian Friedrich suggested in a recent hangout. But I realized I had done it once and it helped me, so after Christian suggested it, I did it again and it helped me again. 
  2. There’s a different piece I am trying to work on which is writing but which I talked about a lot with my co-author.  for some reason, writing it is harder. But i get it. It’s harder coz it’s not talking. It seems obvious but it isn’t. 

So back to the #oer17 keynote (which is still open – see why here), some ideas for getting myself better prepared for it

  • Record my own voice practising. Can help also with timing and such
  • Practice the whole thing or parts of it f2f w ppl at work
  • Practice parts or whole w ppl online on a hangout. Maybe record the hangout also…

Of all these, i will probably just so the top one because i don’t actually like over-choreographing or practising things and am likely to change it up a vit last minute anyway, so…

Well but actually Teresa Mackinnon is doing a hangout w me ahead of OER17 as part of openedsig (i think! For Open Education Week) so that might give me a sounding board for some things, too. Reminds me of Jim Groom once saying he liked doing VC sessions before his actual session onsite as it helps him try ideas out. Or something. 

The other thing i Realized is that no matter how much I reduce the interactivity in the keynote, I have already imagined it as conversational/dialogical. So I don’t know yet what it will be like, exactly. But I have a feeling about how I want it to feel like…if that makes sense…

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for your post and the article you responded to. Simple truths are so powerful! Sometimes I think I’m better at articulating my thoughts in writing but I guess in that case I would be in control of the content and structure of what I’m saying. So I’d miss out on so many things if I’d spoken to people because that conversation might redefine or go into so many different directions. It makes sense. I remember as a high school student thinking I’d covered an issue in writing only to read others’ pieces and realise I’d missed so many aspects – which is why the conversation would be so useful before the piece is written.

    • I generally feel smarter as a writer than a speaker. Being a remote PhD student meant that I spent v little time TALKING about academic stuff but much more time writing. While my day job involves me talking a lot, it’s usually at a more “lay” level to academics who aren’t necessarily social scientists. I think I still speak much less academically than most academics

  2. I feel like presentations are performances of writing – so I’m performing what I have written. For me that takes a lot of energy, but it is also usually pretty rewarding.

    • Not mine. I’m too spontaneous in my presentation. I mean my writing is pretty spontaneous but once it’s written, speaking it would no longer be spontaneous, right? It’s also that I am imagining a very conversational keynote so again, writing it for brainstorming is giving me mental blocks

  3. I don’t see a singular “write” way to prepare a talk. My preference for both listening and delivering one is to be conversational; my mind starts wandering when I hear someone read prepared remarks to me. Why would I could to great lengths, travel to be in a room for some to orate what I could read myself? Especially when its monotonic.

    But that’s not 100% true– Audrey Watters prepares her talks meticulously written first (which means she has those great summaries if you are not there). And I am more than happy for Gardner Campbell to read a quote from the slide (a thing that usually drives me batty) because of his great oratory skill, it is more than saying the words, be breathes life into them.

    I have never written out a talk. But it’s not just winged. I work a lot out as outline, sketches. I go through it all the time in my head. I know the main points I want to hit, and if its anything I focus on it’s the first and last bits; if I can feel confident in the opening, get over being nervous, and know where I am headed, then the middle can flow.

    Two years ago June (my last keynote, so my advice as a keynoter highly suspect), about 1/3 the way in, I noticed that darn Apple beachball spinning on my laptop. Then the video I wanted to show would not load. The phenomena of “podium time” was there, the distortion of time that makes every second of things awry feel like hours creeping. I just had to say, “sorry my laptop crashed, I need to restart” and was already thinking ahead if I had to do the talk (which was based on a lot of visuals) without the slides. I kept talking, and John, the host who had brought me in, pitched in with a joke.

    The thing is you cannot fold, the show must go on. I got more compliments after about how people said I was not flustered by the technology failing. They seemed more comfortable with me being imperfect. I wondered if I could have my laptop crash in every talk. My hunch is people prefer seeing when your humanity shows, while our sense of worth forces us to try to be perfect? I always aim for the former.

    In my first years of going to ed-tech conference I found most annoying when presenters were there to share a project or a technology, they would spend 90% of their time with background info on text slides, and try to squeeze the demo in the last minutes. The demo was the thing I came from! I started talking about my law of “Start with the &#^* Demo!” It was why nearly all my storytelling sessions started with a round of pechaflickr http://pechaflickr.net because it got the audience doing something, it shifts the energy of the room.

    And learning more about the structure, the arc of stories, I realized that many speakers start by telling you the end of the story. They leave out the element of surprise, of overcoming obstacles, of the plot twist.

    Lastly, as my comment is approaching a dump of a blog post inside yours, “Presentation Skills Considered Harmful” by Kathy Sierra really change my approach to planning talks, moving me out of the idea that it’s about me

    http://seriouspony.com/blog/2013/10/4/presentation-skills-considered-harmful

    So 90 slides not necessarily bad (JUST DON’T READ THEM! ha ha ha)

    • V useful, Alan. I remember that imperfect talk w laptop crashing. U had a very funny word for it, this dealing w imperfection but i forget the word you made up.
      I’m a very spontaneous presenter but i don’t know if i can read quotes like Gardner would 😉

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