Recovery from an argument – how to be a better speaker

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Few lecturers and speakers are trained how to share material. Lessons are not learned automatically and lack of style can be irritating to an audience

Pepys Diary Sunday 20 November 1664

They gone, in the evening comes Mr. Andrews and sings with us, and he gone, where Sir J. Minnes and he and I to talk about our letter to my Lord Treasurer, where his folly and simple confidence so great in a report so ridiculous that he hath drawn up to present to my Lord, nothing of it being true, that I was ashamed, and did roundly and in many words for an houre together talk boldly to him, which pleased Sir W. Batten and my Lady, but I was in the right, and was the willinger to do so before them, that they might see that I am somebody, and shall serve him so in his way another time. So home vexed at this night’s passage, for I had been very hot with him, so to supper and to bed, out of order with this night’s vexation.

I could write about how to recover after an argument but there is no magic bullet except time, and forgiving the person concerned. Prevention is better than cure.

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I’ve been to many talks in speeches in my time. The talk was about the connection between touch and sound with children and discussing at which age the senses are coordinated. It was given cheerfully enough but I found that I was not becoming engaged and I’ve pondered why this was the case.
First of all I think the speaker should introduce themselves if they have not been introduced by the speaker. We all need to know something about the background of the person and how they came to be interested in the particular topic, in this case psychology.

Most of us have tired and busy minds from the day and need time to refocus on the topic – perhaps for 5 min or so – then we are ready to absorb new material. In this case the speaker launched straight in to her topic and I wish she had told us what she was going to talk about before telling us about it. Repetition does not insult the listeners indeed it is respectful.

Unfortunately, she spoke with a very thick Italian accent and I had to spend half my concentration figuring out what she said, and the other half on its meaning. As a result I only absorbed about 25% of her material. I am too long in the tooth to be satisfied with just an impression; I want to go away with something concrete, something to chew on. In this case this did not happen. Researchers have a special protocol which they cheerfully referred to in PowerPoint slides by means of grass and numbers and so on but unless I understand exactly why she is doing the experiments the results are somewhat lost on me. Maybe I’m a bit sick in this respect. (for my non-English readers, thick・means a bit intellectually dull).

After the prescribed 50 min of lecture she did receive quite a number of questions which is always a good sign for a speaker and answered them almost before the words were out of the mouth of the questioner. This was a scientific subject given to a scientific audience so maybe I am not as clued up as I should be on this particular topic so I will give it 7/10. Why on earth she had to get someone to change the slides I have no idea because there’s a little gizmo which you hold in your hand which changes the slides remotely. I get the impression that some people have been using the same set of slides or PowerPoint for years and do not update.

We returned home to find that Robert Mugabe of Uganda has finally resigned and that his dreadful wife will not succeed him. Let us hope we do not have one dictator replaced with another.

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In preparation for a visit from a friend who has lived in Singapore I’m looking at the situation of the churches there. It is quite common to have audiences of 2 or 3 thousand in a Sunday. The quality of the sermons and the attentiveness of the crowds puts us to shame and in way Singapore has an undeserved image of being a greedy and businesslike place but in parrallel, thousands of people crowd into the 305 Christian churches, yes you read that right, in a small city state of 6 million souls. More of that anon.

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