Tag Archives: Andrew Dlugan

Six Minutes is back: Three offerings from my favorite blog

Oh joy! My absolute favorite public speaking blog is back in full force. Over the past few weeks, Andrew Dlugan, curator of Six Minutes, has been blogging up a storm and providing readers with all new excellent articles, insights, and resources on all things public speaking nerd. I am busy grading 130 new assignments before my upcoming college visits trip with my mother and sister (eek! My sister is an adult!), but I wanted to share three of my favorite recent offerings from Six Minutes:

5 Ways you Can Make Money Speaking

This has been a topic at the forefront of my mind for a few months. As a teacher, I don’t expect to make the big bucks, and for me, teaching in a place that enriches my existing skill set and helps me make a different in others’ lives is really what motivates my creativity. However, I am also determined to return to school for my PhD or EdD without incurring any more student loan debt. So, I’ve been consulting with family and friends about monetizing Tweak Your Slides and offering my design and consulting services. Dlugan’s article is focused primarily on making money as a speaker, but his advice to explore the world of corporate training where “training professionals collectively earn the largest fraction of the speaking industry’s dollars (Source)” because of the length and frequency of sessions, is right in line with not only my existing skills but also can further grow my skills as educator and designer. Do you design or speak for money? Does Dlugan’s advice work in your case? What was your journey to monetized public speaking nerdness like?

Speech Transitions: Magical Words and Phrases

Transitions, those little bridges we remember are so important in writing (partly because written language gives us more verbal cues that something is ending and beginning–periods, paragraphs, indentations) but that we sometimes forget about in speech, are the subject of this article. Transitions are necessary but they are also rather magical. Without transitions, a speech can seem disjointed and disconnected; an audience in turn leaves the presentation unsure of how the individual pieces in the presentation lead to the whole “big idea.” In this article, Dlugan describes not only the uses of transitions (help create flow, show relationships between ideas, and help with comprehension) but also provides readers with a handy list of transitional phrases that communicate different relationships/serve different purposes.

How to Choose and Use Speech Props

The final article I’d like to share with readers today is about the somewhat forgotten yet remarkably effective presentation tool, the prop. Thousands of presentations are delivered each day, and chances are that only a small fraction of those move outside of the now standard and often dreaded expectation of PowerPoint. But, as Dlugan points out, using a prop well, as Bill Gates did in his 2009 TED talk, can completely change an audience’s perception of not only a speaker’s message but the speaker himself. In this article, Dlugan cite six reasons to consider the power of the prop in a presentation:

1. Props are concrete (this is so important in a speech, where the main mode of communication is verbal, which is by nature more abstract than visual.)

2. Props are unexpected (as Chip and Dan Heath explain, unexpectedness is one key mark of a truly sticky idea!)

3. Props are emotional (because they are visceral, they bring up all kinds of sensory associations untapped by a word or visual or bullet-riddled death machine).

4. Props are dramatic (Have you seen Bill Gates open up that jar of mosquitos? Jill Bolte Taylor interact with a real brain in her TED talk? People cannot help but physically react when a speech enters the realm of the tangible!)

5. Props require preparation (and a prepared presenter is a more effective, confident, and engaging presenter!)

6. Props are memorable (four years after a student persuaded us to do something about gang violence by sharing the story of her friend, who’d been killed in an initiation, what I remember most about that story is the way she held a single golf club–the same type of club her friend used to defend himself in the attack that killed him.)

Read the rest of the article here for more on how to choose a strong prop and harness the untapped power of unexpectedness!

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Six Minutes to the Rescue: Audience Analysis 101

Six Minutes Audience Analysis Post.001

For the past few weeks, I’ve been revamping my lectures in preparation for my first on campus class since November. In preparation for that, I blogged a bit about one of the areas of public speaking most often brushed over by presenters-audience analysis and audience segmentation. While students and presenters have a plethora of resources available to them, and we use Nancy Duarte’s Audience Needs Map in class as well as her audience questions in Resonate, it’s always wonderful to find succinct yet comprehensive resources that are full of practical tools and application. One of the best resources out there that fits these criteria is Six Minutes, curated, edited, and written by Andrew Dlugan. I have turned to Six Minutes for their “how to” guide on rhetoric in developing my presentations and in teaching my students how to develop theirs. Now, I can add his wonderfully practical series on audience analysis to the resources I provide to students and presenters.

Thoughtful audience analysis is one of the best habits you can develop as a speaker. It will help you understand your audience’s perspective and provide maximum value for them. If done well, your audience analysis will provide insights that will help you focus your message, select the most effective content and visuals, and tailor your delivery to suit this particular target audience. –Andrew Dlugan, Six Minutes

Dlugan begins his series with an introduction to audience analysis and follows it up with an article explaining how to conduct it. He then turns his focus to how one can use the data gathered in the audience analysis process to improve one’s speech. Through in-depth audience analysis, one can design an entire presentation that is goes beyond connection and actually reaches resonance. By creating a presentation for the audience (dress, presentation format, supporting points, vocabulary/language, etc.), speaker can move closer to true identification. As rhetorician Kenneth Burke asserted, when an audience can sense analogy or similarity with the audience, the audience is more likely to be persuaded by the speaker’s argument.

Dlugan’s latest offering in the series is an Audience Analysis Worksheet. I, like Dlugan, appreciate the worksheet, checklist, and storyboard template–anything that helps presenters delve further into those often ignored parts of our presentation. A worksheet can “help focus your energy and make a seemingly complex task simple to perform” (Dlugan 2013). So, in the case of audience analysis, which one can talk about ad nauseum but never actually practice or conduct, a worksheet can help turn a theoretical best practice of public speaking into an actionable task whose data is now easier to analyze and apply. I’ll be adding this eries to the list of resources I draw from in preparing lectures and can’t wait to engage in some audience analysis in class using Dlugan’s worksheet. Check out the entire series on audience analysis at Six Minutes!


On a side note: I’d like to thank Andrew for giving me the opportunity to guest write for Six Minutes in 2012. Andrew is a wonderful editor and pushed me to get out of my analytical zone when writing. Thanks Andrew and thanks Six Minutes!

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Don’t Worry, Be CRAPpy on Slideshare.net

In response to some requests as well as to provide an alternative, stand alone version of my recent Six Minutes article, I’ve uploaded a new deck to slideshare.net. Check it out below!


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Featured on Six Minutes: How to Create Pro Slides in Less Time


Today, my article “How to Create Pro Slides in Less time: Don’t Worry, Be CRAPpy” is featured on Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes. I was introduced to the concept of CRAP via Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen, and I am happy to share this useful tool for designing and revising slides with Six Minutes readers and beyond. Check out how you can use Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity to help you create great slides or revise your decks to awesomeness!

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Mediocrity’s worst enemy…

Is the superhuman (here I purposely do not use Nietzsche term superman). I began using the term superteacher after a decade of teaching showed me that there are two types of education professionals: those who teach because it is who they are and those who teach because they cannot find anything else “better” to do. To me, there is nothing besides teaching (well, I do have a cat, some plants, and an amazing ability to bake). I felt nothing but insecurity as a green teacher–I know now that I can teach anything, as long as I love teaching enough to devote only my best effort to it. I am a superteacher–apathy and ignorance are my sworn enemies, and selfhood, actualization, and pure thought are my allies.  I have met superteachers and superstudents, extraordinary people who stand out because they work, accept and tackle challenges, settle for only the absolute best, and never excuse failure.

My crusade against mediocrity, though, is nothing new. My mother taught me this word when I was in elementary school. She taught and teaches my siblings and I that hard work leads to excellence. I learned that Cs were far from “average” or acceptable. You might disagree, reader, that grades matter or that we can measure more than memorization and test taking skills via grades. To me though, each A or B was a testament to hard work, to never giving up even when the subject frustrated me or challenged me beyond what was practical. My mother carries this lesson on. She completely changed my mind about homeschooling. I marvel at my younger siblings, whose talents in academics, arts, and athletics far outshines my more cerebral approach to learning.

I share an idea the first day of class with my students. The idea is that an average presentation sucks and that most of us are painfully average presenters. Andrew Dlugan developed this idea in his Six Minutes post, “Average Speakers Suck. Don’t Be Average.” I really appreciate Dlugan’s rhetoric–he not only uses easily understandable metaphors (i.e. the average chocolate chip cookie and its connection to presenting), but integrates bell curves and concrete examples into his basic conclusion/big idea. Don’t be average–average sucks.

As I take a few months off from the classroom and I tackle new projects, I will remember this idea–be a superhuman. Don’t be average.

I will leave you with the visual resume of one of the most amazing women, students, professionals I have had the privilege to teach, Crysta Timmerman. Top that:

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Tweak of the day: Andrew Dlugan and SMN

Andrew Dlugan is the author of Six Minutes, one of my absolute must-read blogs on public speaking. One of my favorite posts by Dlugan is titled “Average Speakers Suck. Don’t be Average.” I dig this post because it employs one of Dlugan’s most powerful rhetorical tools, metaphor. Dlugan points out that unlike an average chocolate chip cookie, average height, and an average golfer, an average presentation sucks. In Dlugan’s bell curve of presentation skills, “The line between being an effective communicator and an ineffective communicator is not down the middle of the chart. It’s over to the right.” This average zone according to Dlugan, “is the Death by PowerPoint abyss. This is the 15 filler words per minute zone. This is the “What the heck is this speaker talking about?” zone.  In homage to Dlugan, I am sharing with you today’s image of the day, which comes from Flickr user, SMN. I’ve paired it with one of my favorite quotes from this excellent article.

Image: SMN via Flickr

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