5 Speaking Tips from Awesome University Professors

A class full of insolent, critical and raging hormones is probably the toughest audience one can face while seeking to convey information.

Different places, same story, the same tough audience.

We have all been on the other side (unless you’re thirteen and reading this): the English is bad, he looks too fat, he sounds drunk… Look he tripped on the trash can!

The judgements may never stop but there’s always something we can learn from our professors beyond the classroom.

Imagine teaching your class.

Creepy, right? Not the sort of thing you’d do for a living. It certainly is intimidating to speak to a group of people who are more than uninterested in what you have to say; they’re sure they have better things to do.

While I am by no means an authority on speaking or communication, the stuff below struck me when I was attending my math lecture this morning. Without further ado, here are the five things I learn from my uni professors:

  1. Awesome profs avoid bombing the young impressionable gum-chewing mindswith fancy jargon. They ease into technical terms, building on simple explanations and examples.

I, as a student face lots of new scientific terms everyday and if I were to read only the texts prescribed/recommended, I wouldn’t have as good a grasp on my concept as compared to a teacher bridging the gap between what I know and what I would like to know.

Yay!

 2. They are not concerned with impressing anyone—despite the flak or flattery they receive, the matter of their speech remains king. (… Aaand I just rephrased ‘Content is king’.)

They are only concerned with the higher purpose of educating you on a certain topic and well, at that. Focus on what you have to convey : )

[Most profs don’t bother, I admit. But for the ones who do, they make all the difference; hallelujah!]

 3. Even if it is a blackboard, visuals help your content.

Visuals are aids. Just like professors never read out from a book during lectures, it isn’t a good idea to drone away your speech notes and presentation slides, unless you’re competing with Jigglypuff.

I have slept through some really horrid cases of presentations gone wrong. There is very little that may change my opinion about them as speakers. #truestory, bro.

 4. Awesome teachers move about and use the space around them. Or it might just be the Stonehenge down at Wiltshire ya lookin’ at. When the person you’re listening to is moving about, there is naturally a greater deal of involvement and attention. Unless you have a thing for stones.

 5. They are open to questions and discussion on tangential topics. The purpose of dialogue or communication is to essentially inspire and initiate new ones that lead you to be better direction, or at least a less trodden one.

6. Awesome teachers love what they do. That one is a no-brainer, c’mon. They choose to impart knowledge for a living and deal with the million struggles that the field presents to them with a satin fuchsia bow.

So if you’re moping around advertising solar projects when it isn’t really your thing, you could consider giving it a chance (there’s a possibility that you may fall in love with it) or pick something you love. Simple. What you do or speak about doesn’t have to be a chore. (… when you think of it as an absolute pain in the neck, trust me, it shows when you talk.)

So give the fancy jargon a miss, focus on your content, use visual aids like they’re meant to be, move around, be open to discussion and love what you do.

What are some of the things you learn from people around you?

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14 thoughts on “5 Speaking Tips from Awesome University Professors

  1. artisticmilestone says:

    I admire what teachers do, especially those who teach raging-hormone-teenagers. I mean most of the time even their own parent cant control them. Teaching is one of those very intimidating career for me. Great post ! 🙂

  2. It’s a long time since I was at art college, where most of the best lecturers were quite eccentric. My favourite opened up our first lesson with the instruction to draw the most boring corner of the room, then settled down to read a book for most of the next couple of hours. He turned out to be the best drawing instructor I ever had.

      • I studied graphic design.

        In those days that included classes on life drawing, still-life, photography, typography, silk screen printing, illustration, calligraphy and a few other disciplines.

        The computer has changed all that. Though there are huge advantages, at the same time a lot of valuable skills are being lost. The same skills that have given the internet the striking visuals we all use on a daily basis, and take for granted much of the time.

        For example, the types we use are basically the same fonts designed for printing. The technical knowledge needed to design them requires a thorough knowledge of printing. All the spacing between lines and letters is still based on measurements worked out as the print industry evolved. So we’re talking about a few hundred years.

        If we lose the basic skills needed to play music, draw, paint and even write, we will lose the ability to use employ computers to their full potential.

        But you must know that from your own studies.

        • I agree.
          Technology, and particularly computing has transformed how art is processed by the masses. What most of us see is the sunny side. The concerns you have, and tons of people do (I’m glad): I think it is time we adopted a much more active stance and spell it out on a larger canvas.

          In several aspects of human activity, there are traits and skills we’re on the brink of losing if we continue with the (sometimes) maniacal tendency to automate everything. The patience, the tastes, the process itself… cannot be replaced.

          I am only eighteen, yet there are things I like to do with my hands. Like writing. And doodling. And even planning things out. And reading. To me, paper can never lose its appeal. We have a gazillion apps for everything but nay.

          There are some things that a computer can never replace; I hope people stumble upon that realization soon enough.
          PS. Typography, silk screen printing, photography… I’m jealous! 🙂

          • It often irks me to see people deescribing themselves as writers, artists, poets, musicians or whatever just because a computer makes their work look or sound better to their own ears and eyes. But no matter, a bad poem, video, song or story is still bad however you wrap it up.

            Nevertheless, my world has expanded immeasurably because of computer technology. A quick finger dance about my keyboard and I can reach people on another continent in another time zone, people like you.

            It’s good to see so many bloggers from different cultures and backgrounds sharing similar ideas and views on life. In a world where so many political and religious leaders seem to want to get us to focus on our differences it is refreshing to find we are really so alike. This gives me tremendous hope for the future.

            Living with an artist, I am surrounded by paper, canvases, pencils, brushes and the rest. I love going to art shops with her to buy materials, and I still write by hand for at least half an hour every day. You might like to look at Anji’s work: angelicawesterhoff.wordpress.com

            I’d love to know a little more about your world of robotics. Though I have no technical knowledge of the subject whatsoever, I am particularly fascinated by the idea of artificial intelligence. Sometimes, I think my own intelligence is artificial. Perhaps you could link me to a site showing me a little of what you’re involved in.

            • Anji’s work is surreal; I have no words for what she weaves in the name of art (stupendo-frickin’-tabulous may be close, though)

              Well, I am studying electronics and instrumentation. The electronics bit takes care of the machines and what lies inside- instrumentation means I study about measuring devices. We have courses on analog and digital circuitry where we design amplifiers and such for given specifications, along with electrical machines, math and programming… I’m in second year of my bachelors. In time, we shall study stuff like microprocessors.
              The best part is, peeking under a machine and being able to make sense of the what’s and the why’s spurs you on (:

  3. A very nice post that captures some basic, but fundamental skills which can benefit anyone presenting information to an audience. Well done. By the way, you gave six good tips, not five! 😉

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