On Fridays, we dip into the article archive and emerge with one of the most memorable articles. We’ll dust it off, shine a light on it, and consider it from a new perspective.

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In previous articles in this series, we learned how to plan and how to lead group discussions. In this article, we dig deeper into effectively managing different personalities that you will encounter as a discussion leader.

In an ideal world, everyone in your discussion group would actively participate, support the opinions of others, be respectful, and be a positive influence in all ways and at all times. The discussion would proceed swiftly and successfully towards achieving the objectives. Sadly, I have yet to lead a discussion group in such an ideal world.

In the real world, discussions can go awry in a thousand different ways. Often, the largest obstacles you will face come in the form of participants who exhibit traits of challenging personas. They may be doing so accidentally or they may be doing so deliberately; either way, you are responsible for managing these behaviors.

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On Fridays, we dip into the article archive and emerge with one of the most memorable articles. We’ll dust it off, shine a light on it, and consider it from a new perspective.

Today’s Flashback Article

This week, we’re headed back to June 2010, when we dissected Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 Rule, describing why the rule is both wonderful and terrible at the same time:

  • 10 slides are the optimal number to use for a presentation.
  • 20 minutes is the longest amount of time you should speak.
  • 30 point font is the smallest font size you should use on your slides.

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Let’s start with three truths about feedback:

  1. Most of the feedback you receive as a speaker is not very useful.
  2. Useful feedback is hard to find and uncomfortable to receive.
  3. To reach your potential as a speaker, you require substantial feedback.

These truths present a few conundrums:

  • If most feedback is useless, how and where do you find useful feedback?
  • If receiving feedback is uncomfortable, why would you want to seek it? How do you get in the right frame of mind to accept it?

In this article, we define useful feedback, describe how and where to collect it, and discuss how to adopt a mindset which embraces honest feedback.

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The first article in this series explained how to plan a group discussion.

In this article, we describe best practices when leading a group discussion.

There’s much more involved than simply getting people in a room, waving a magic wand, and declaring “Discuss now!” Your role as a discussion leader is complex and requires great mental dexterity and tact. How can you keep the discussion steadily flowing in a productive way at the right pace towards achieving your objectives?

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Six Minutes launched in 2007. We’ve published hundreds of articles from communication experts; tens of thousands of speakers around the world subscribe and follow via email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. But, most of our precious readers — that’s you — haven’t been around since the beginning.

So, today, we’re launching a new feature on Six Minutes. On Fridays, we’ll dip into the article archive and emerge with one of the most memorable articles. We’ll dust it off, shine a light on it, and consider it from a new perspective.

How long will we go? 10 weeks or 100 weeks? That depends on feedback from you. Please let us know if you find this useful.

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Discussion groups come in numerous forms, including:

  • committee discussions
  • internal corporate meetings
  • customer strategy sessions
  • industry or academic conference panels
  • brainstorming sessions
  • classroom discussions
  • book clubs

Discussion groups also range widely in terms of:

  • group size — 5, 50, or 500?
  • length — 20 minutes, 1 day, or several weeks?
  • setting — living room, classroom, boardroom, conference room, political chambers
  • consequences — discussion between friends versus international policy repercussions

Despite this diversity, all successful group discussions share one trait: a competent discussion leader. Leading a discussion is an essential skill for a well-rounded speaker.

In this article, we focus on how to plan a great group discussion.

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Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark will help you communicate better, whether writing speeches, reports, handouts, or articles.

As I breezed through Writing Tools, I confessed to my wife that I felt inspired to write. Thus, the book achieved the rare feat of delivering on the promise of the front cover review (from the Boston Globe): “Writers will be inspired to pick up their pens.”

This article is one of a series of public speaking book reviews from Six Minutes.

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Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.
— Immanuel Kant

There are many types of bad speakers, and this article is about two of them:

  1. Speakers who bury audiences in an avalanche of data without providing the significance.
  2. Speakers who discuss theories and ideals, completely detached from real-world practicalities.

Both of these speakers fail because they don’t understand the ladder of abstraction.

In this article, we define the ladder of abstraction, give several examples, and explore why it is important for all speakers. Then, we explore specific strategies that you can apply to improve the balance and understanding in your presentations.

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One of the most frequent questions I receive from Six Minutes readers breaks down to a very basic idea:  “How can I make money speaking?

For example, a recent question from Tanya M. asks:

A few years ago, I hated speaking in public. But I’ve been giving presentations quite a bit at work, and I’m getting compliments on my skills now. […] I’d like to know about ways that I can make money speaking in the future.

Can you help?

In this article, we examine 5 common ways that speakers make money. The good news is that Tanya — and you — can tap into any of them.

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The signature of a persuasive speech is a clear call-to-action.

Yet many speakers miss a fantastic opportunity with a call-to-action that is wishy-washy, hypothetical, or ill-constructed. Even worse, some speakers omit the call-to-action entirely.

A poor call-to-action undermines the effectiveness of your speech; a great call-to-action stirs your audience to act enthusiastically.

In this article, we reveal the qualities of a strong speech call-to-action which will lead your audience to act.

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