The seventh method

In the Fundamentals we mentioned the Curse of Knowledge, and six ways to overcome it. My personal favorite, though, isn’t on that list. It is: #7: Ask questions. Specifically, ask your audience to describe back to you what you just said. Ask them to describe your...

Reduce your ahh count

For you, as a listener, what’s easier to understand? “I… went… to… the… store…” …or… “Uhhh, I, uhhh… went, uhhh… to, uhhh… the, uhhh… store, uhhh.”? Which one was easier to understand? Probably the first one, right? Both of them took the same amount of time — the...

Stick to the delta

When you’re organizing your presentation, the Rule of Three is a good place to start. For example: We’re going to do A. We’re going to do B. We’re going to do C. The human brain loves things that are organized into threes. It tends to forget point #4, but it can...

How to make your audience feel like they’re in the right place

Remember the One Question, the one thing that’s on everyone’s mind. The one problem they’re trying to solve, the reason they asked you to speak. Then tell a story that basically goes, A. I had that question myself once, and B. here’s how I solved it, and C. now I’m...

What should I do with my hands?

When you’re on stage, what do you do with your hands? It’s one of the most common questions we get. Personally, I suspect you already know what to do with your hands, but the best answer is actually kind of zen, so we reserve it for more advanced courses. In the...

Chat with a couple audience members

Before your speech, meet some of the members of your audience. Talk to them, get to know them a little. It’ll make you a lot less nervous when you’re speaking, because you’ll be talking to friends, not a bunch of nameless, faceless strangers. How can you do this? At...

Video yourself

Have a friend video you while you’re speaking. And yes, watch it! I’ve never met a person who liked to watch himself speaking. Not once. But there’s something magic about it. Every person who ever watches himself on video decides to become a better speaker. It’s like...

The Curse of Knowledge

The “Curse of Knowledge” is the inability to clearly explain something to another person, because you know the subject so well. Not a clear explanation as defined by you. A clear explanation as defined by the other person. Why is it so hard to clearly explain...

Practice 25 times

When professional actors prepare for a role, they usually rehearse for hours, or days or weeks, learning how to make a particular facial tick appear at just the right time. When she was preparing for the movie Gravity, Sandra Bullock practiced one of the moves for...

The first three questions

Opening PowerPoint is one of the first things people do when preparing a presentation. However, it’s the wrong place to start. Opening PowerPoint first is like buying paint for the living room before you’ve even started building the house. Asking three particular...

SO Fundamentals index

There are 9 lessons in the SO Fundamentals course. They are: Lesson 1 :  The First Three Questions Lesson 2 :  Practice 25 Times Lesson 3 :  The Curse of Knowledge Lesson 4 :  Reduce Your Ahh Count Lesson 5 :  “B” is for Magic Lesson 6 :  Video Yourself...

How does this person think?

“How does this person think?” Maybe your audience members don’t know who you are. They might not even care about your subject. But they probably want to know how you think. It’s a natural human impulse: We want to know how other people solve problems, because maybe...