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Be Original Already


When I first started earnestly blogging this year, I created an elaborate two-part post based on a presentation I’d just watched.  The person who was doing the presentation is well known in her industry and for me, the blog post served as way to help me learn and reinforce the lessons I’d learned from her.  Take my word for it – the presenter gave great information and I wrote a brilliant accounting of her wisdom…

You have to take my word for it because of what happened next.

As I was finishing the post, I realized that much of what I was saying was her intellectual property.  While the information may be around in other forms, the way she packaged the information using trademarked acronyms and methodologies was thought up by her.  So I sent her a nice email, told her what I’d done to reinforce my learning, sent her a link to my posting – which by the way provide multiple links back to her website – and asked her if she minded me talking about her intellectual property.  I told her if she had a problem with the post, I’d be happy to take it down.

She had a problem with me using her intellectual property.  She asked me to take it down.  I did immediately.

I’d like to think that if I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t have asked her to take the post down.   The way I figure it, if people are spreading my ideas and pointing them back to my site, that’s total gravy.  But she didn’t see it that way.  But it’s a good lesson to learn not just in blog posts but also in presentations.

Original Stories

One mistake that presenters sometimes make, particularly when they’re new to public speaking, is to repeat stories that they’ve heard or read.   They do it (or maybe I should say I did it) mostly because the story is funny or it illustrates a point.

I suppose it’s OK to tell someone else’s story if you give credit to the person whose story it is.  But consider that the story isn’t yours.  You can’t tell it as well as the person who originally told the story.  It’s THEIR story.  So find your own stories.  Many things have happened to you in your life.  How can you make the same point but by using one of your stories?  Challenge yourself to come up with your own material.

How Do YOU See It

One of the things I noticed in the text we used at Kennesaw State when I taught public speaking was that there were endnotes throughout practically every paragraph.  I understand with an academic setting perhaps it’s important to stress the sources of information but you know, someone had to originally come up with that thesis or had the original idea like Aristotle or Monroe.  I wondered what the authors actually thought about public speaking.

If you’re giving a presentation where you are always crediting some authority on the information, then where do YOU come in?  When does the audience get to hear your original thoughts?

Give your opinions.  Talk with conviction about how you see the world.  You’ve had experience.  You have a mind.  Talk about where you stand.  Let your audience know what you think.  After all, you’re who they came to listen to.   So tell them what you believe.

 Write About It

When I first started blogging this year, I was bummed that this person who I wrote about asked me to take down my blog posts.  But she probably did me a favor.  It forced me to think about how I felt about presentations and how to be more effective in communicating a message to an audience.

If you’re not sure how you feel about the topic you’re presenting on, force yourself to write about it.  And find a way to hold yourself accountable.  I used a blog because it was a way to hold myself accountable.  If I don’t write regularly, my blog hits will fall. You don’t have to do a blog.  Maybe it’s an accountability partner or a writers group.  But force yourself to write down your thoughts and holding yourself accountable for doing it.

What Do You Think?

Do you disagree?  Do you think it’s important to you as a presenter to use other authorities to support your point?  Do you as an audience member need to have other validation?

Please add your comments below!