Every lecture should make only one point - Deepstash

Every lecture should make only one point

Your one main point should be repeated over and over, like a theme with variations.

If we make one point well enough, people will understand and remember it. If we try to fit too much in, the audience will lose interest and go back to their thoughts before they were interrupted.

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Making people pay attention to your ideas

Mathematician and philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota specialized in functional analysis, probability theory, phenomenology, and combinatorics.

In 1996, he gave a talk, "Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught," which contains valuable practical advice for making people pay attention to your ideas.

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Introductions are providing prospective readers with a strong motivation to read your work.

Introductions are about:

  • explaining what a piece of work will be about,
  • what the purpose is,
  • and why someone should be interested in it.

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Mathematician Frederic Riesz published the same ideas multiple times, each time improving until he was ready to publish a final paper.

In our work, we don't need to have fresh ideas all of the time. We can build on an initial idea. Sometimes, we can do our best work through an iterative process. For example, a writer could start by sharing an idea as a tweet. If it gets a good response, the replies help them expand it into a blog post, then a talk, and eventually, a book.

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One minute overtime can destroy the best of lectures.

It's essential to respect the time and attention of others. Attention spans are limited. After a certain point, people stop taking in new information. Don't expect them to still hang on your lips after the required time. Instead, put in the extra work for brevity and clarity.

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Try to spot someone in the audience whose work you have some familiarity with. Then rearrange your presentation so as to mention some of that person's work. Everyone in the audience has come to listen to your lecture hoping of hearing their work mentioned.

Reciprocity is very persuasive. If you want people to pay attention to your work, always pay attention to theirs first. Show that you see them and appreciate them.

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Presentation matters. The way our work looks influences how people perceive it.

Take the time to clean your equivalent of a blackboard to signal that you care about what you're doing.

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There are two kinds of mistakes: One is fatal and can destroy a theory, but the other is small and won't completely ruin your work.

Building in a safety margin, such as more time or funding, can turn fatal mistakes into contingent ones.

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They use a few tricks over and over again. The smartest and most successful people are often only good at a few things - or just one thing. However, they maximize those strengths without getting distracted.

If you've hit diminishing returns with improvements, then experiment with things you already have an aptitude for but haven't made them your focus.

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Gian-Carlo Rota noted that many of the mathematicians he admired were known more for their work explaining and building upon existing ideas. Their extensive knowledge of their domain meant that they could expand further.

Never be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants.

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What we present should correspond to what we want an attentive listener to take down in his notebook.

We should make it simple for people to understand our ideas on the spot. We shouldn't expect them to revisit it later. Even if they do, we won't be there to answer questions or clear up any misunderstandings.

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If we have a conversation, read a book, or listen to a talk, we are very unlikely to remember much of it. Even if we enjoyed and valued it, only a small part will stay with us.

When you are communicating with people, try to give them something to take home. Choose a memorable line or idea, a visual image, or use humour.

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RELATED IDEAS

The importance of marking a book

Why is marking a book indispensable to reading it? 

First, it keeps you awake, not merely conscious, but wide awake. 

Second, reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.

Third, writing your reactions down helps you to remember the thoughts of the author.

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Making Bad Decisions: Being Intentionally Stupid

Our various cognitive biases make us behave irrationally, even though we believe we are acting logically. If we are tired, in a rush, or are distracted we tend to rush towards a bad decision. Other factors include working with an authority figure or in a group.

The rule to follow is to never make important decisions when one is emotionally weak, tired, distracted, or in a hurry.

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Don‘t always look at the brighter side!

We tend to measure performance by what happens when things are going well. Yet how people, organizations, companies, leaders, and other things do on their best day isn’t all that instructive. To find the truth, we need to look at what happens on the worst day.

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