Language

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When the Resistance Comes Calling

The writer Stephen Pressfield has a great book called The War of Art. One concept he explores is what he calls “the Resistance.” This is an all-too-common phenomenon for anyone who is trying to make anything—the idea of making the thing is great, but sitting down and grinding it out seems impossible.  The Resistance makes …

Introversion Doesn’t Equal Shyness

I’ve noticed lately that it’s common for people to use the word “introverted” to mean “shy,” and “extroverted” to mean “friendly.” This was underscored in a recent conversation with a friend who said, “When I’m with people, I’m totally engaged. I’m tuned in. But I’m an introvert, so it drains me. I have to recharge …

But What Are They Listening For?

I was talking with a good friend recently who was dealing with a professional dispute. The issues at hand were complex, and she and I were discussing her next steps. She shared a draft of her notes with me, the thoughts she was marshaling for her next conversation with them. It included, in addition to …

Your Brain on Words

This quick video shows how different areas of the brain light up in response to hearing different kinds of words. Our brains sort words into categories, and words that have various meanings, (like “top”), light up our brains in several relevant areas simultaneously. It can be tempting to drop numbers and data on our audiences, …

What Do We Choose to Remember?

The most basic definition of a memorial is that it’s something that exists to remind us of a person or an event. Many of us have personal memorials—objects or photos or books or even places that we keep in our lives in order to help us think about people or times past.  These are some …

Copy That

I’ve been binge-watching “Below Deck,” the reality show that takes place on a chartered yacht. Viewers are treated to gorgeous sights of the Mediterranean where the boat cruises, fun scenes of guests on jet skis and water slides, and ongoing drama with the deckhands and stewards who crew the boat. In the midst of this …

Telling v. Living

Recently I got to watch a group of interesting, passionate women tell stories. One woman shared the story of when she started a golf tournament fundraiser for her local Make-A-Wish chapter.  The first section was very deliberately crafted—she used phrases like “And then I turned from my computer and let out a sigh of disappointment.” …

Idioms and Including

One reason I really love doing workshops with new groups is that I hear my own work in a new way, and I learn a lot. I had the honor of speaking to a large group of leaders in education last week. We talked about what situations are most challenging for them right now, how …

The Pitfalls of Letting Someone Else Create Your Presentation

What happens when someone else writes your speech? If you’re a world leader or a top executive with a team of professional speechwriters who know how to write in your voice, this probably works out pretty well for you. The speech goes through numerous drafts, and you’re very familiar with the content before you stand …

“The” Creepiest Word

You may know that I am a proud Shakespeare geek. I was the Education Director at the National Shakespeare Company for years, and almost nothing makes me happier than a well-acted, well-produced Shakespeare play. I’m also a big language nerd. Why do words work the way they do? How do they change over time and …

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