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Showing posts from May, 2017

Beware These Informative Speech Topics

I enjoy my job, generally speaking. Much of my time is spent listening to students speaking  about the things that matter to them. In all, I’ve sat through thousands of student speeches. If I’m lucky, the speeches are interesting and intriguing. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. I’ve noticed this particularly when it comes to informative speech topics. Too many informative speech topics are redundant, unspecified, insignificant, or irrelevant to most of the audience members. I have strong feelings about this as someone who’s had to listen to countless hours of these speeches. A poor informative speech topic wastes everybody’s time. I’ve singled out three in particular that keep coming up in my classes. Each of these demonstrate common pitfalls when it comes to selecting an informative speech topic. I’ll try to explain why each topic doesn’t work well in addition to providing some alternative suggestions. Here are my three least desirable informative speech

Winning a Political Argument

There is an old saying, “a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”. This statement contains great truth: people don’t easily change their minds. I can’t think of a single occasion that I changed somebody’s mind about something important. I also can't think of many times that I changed my mind after an argument. It could be that I am closed-minded and a bad arguer, except that this happens to everyone.  This stems from confirmation bias, which states that we are inclined to interpret information in a way that supports our beliefs. We have a bias towards things that confirm our worldview. How many arguments have you engaged in over politics, religion, family, or just about any subject. You can expect these conversations to have little effect on changing another person’s mind. Does this mean that debates, discussions, or arguments are pointless? That all depends… If you are only trying to change the other person's mind, then good luck with that. You w

Finding a Quiet Space

Reading and writing have become increasingly difficult in a world with fewer quiet spaces. Some people claim to enjoy working in an active and energetic environment like a coffee shop. Noise may help spark ideas for those individuals. But my view is that noise pollution is one of the biggest hurdles for most people trying to focus on any project. I have a lot of empathy for students who struggle with procrastination. How is anyone supposed to write a speech or study with so much noise going on around them? Most of the schools I teach at are in densely packed cities. I assume that most students also live in compact apartments or houses on busy streets that are full of noise at all hours of the day and night. I recall the hopelessness of trying to find somewhere quiet to read a complex and long article or to write a ten-page paper while I was in school. One of the best investments I ever made was a pair of industrial earmuffs from amazon (shown in picture). I acquired my

Why I Love TED Talks

Most of us have seen a TED talk at one time or another. You can find a virtually limitless supply of speakers addressing any topic you can think of in an engaging and insightful way. The theme of TED talks is “ideas worth spreading”. A speech should serve to provide a useful message to the audience. To become a strong speaker, you must have something of value to share with others. I see too many speeches addressing topics that aren’t worth discussing. Why bother? A speaker must address something that matters. That’s why I appreciate TED’s mode of operation. TED talks have generated hundreds of millions of views. They’re becoming a prominent force in educating the population on a variety of topics. Teachers are using TED talks in their classrooms (myself included). TED talks are bringing public speaking back into the limelight in a society that is increasingly digitized. I had the good fortune of attending a TEDx rehearsal session last month. The speakers were carefull