4 months ago
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How To Speak by Patrick Winston

#lectures #slides #oral exam #communication #Education
MIT How to Speak, IAP 2018
Instructor: Patrick Winston
View the complete course: https://ocw.mit.edu/how_to_speak
Patrick Winston's How to Speak talk has been an MIT tradition for over 40 years. Offered every January, the talk is intended to improve your speaking ability in critical situations by teaching you a few heuristic rules.
License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
More information at https://ocw.mit.edu/terms
More courses at https://ocw.mit.edu

#public speaking #teaching #job interviews #presentations

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For more on the life and work of Professor Winston (1943-2019), visit

by MIT OpenCourseWare 9 months ago

A summary of the whole talk. Save, read, use... Enjoy!

Someone should've done it, let me be your hero guys. I spent couple of hours doing it but believe it'll be usefull for many people out there!

1. Do not start a talk with a joke.
2. Promise - Tell them what they gonna learn at the end of your talk.
3. Cycle – make your idea repeated many times in order to be completely clear for everyone.
4. Make a “Fence” around your idea so that it can be distinguished from someone else’s idea.
5. Verbal punctuation – sum up information within your talk some times to make listeners get back on.
6. Ask a question - intriguing one

Place and Time

7. Best time for having a lecture is 11 am. (not too early and not after lunch)
8. The place should be well lit.
9. The place should be seen and checked before the lecture.
10. The place should not be full less than a half, it must be chosen according to the amount of listeners.

For teaching.
1. Board – it’s got graphics, speed, target. Watch your hands! Don’t hold them behind your back, it’s better to keep them straight and use for pointing at the board.
2. Props – use them in order to make your ideas visual.
Visual perception is the most effective way to interact with listeners.

For Job Talk. Exposing, Slides
3. Don’t put too many words on a slide. Slides should just reflect what you’re saying, not the other way around. Pictures attracts attention and people start to wait for your explanation – use that tip.
4. Make slide as easy as you can – no title, no distracting pictures, frames, points and so on.
5. Do not use laser pointer – due to that you lose eye contact with the audience. Instead you can make the arrows just upon a slide.


Show to your listeners your stuff is cool and interesting.
You have to be able to:
-show your vision of that problem
-show that you’ve done particular things (by steps)
All of that should be done real quick in no more than 5 min.
Persuade your listeners you’re not a rookie (Prof. Winston contrived to do that from the very first seconds of his talk)

Getting Famous
If you want to your ideas be remembered you’ve got to have "5 S"

- Symbols associate with your ideas (visual perception is the best way to attract attention)
- Slogan (describing your idea)
- Surprise (common fallacy that is no longer true, for instance, just after you’ve told about it)
- Salient Idea (not necessarily important but the one that sticks out)
- Story (how you did it, how it works…)

How to End

- Don’t put collaborators at the end, do that at the beginning.
- Question’s the worst way to end a talk.
- It’s good to end with a Contribution slide – to sum up everything you’ve told with your OWN decision.
- At the very end you could tell a joke since people then will leave the event feeling fun and thus keep a good memory of your talk.
- "Thank you (for listening)" isn’t good ending, it’s trite at least. You can end with a quote of a prominent person (my own knowledge), with a salute to people (how much you valued the time being here, the people over here..., “I’d like to get back, it was fun!”

That part actually I find the hardest one, since saying “Thanks” is a kind of a habit and it’s really difficult to make people clap if your talk wasn’t fascinating, so you’d better do this great and you won’t have to worry about how to end!

by ___GRIG ___ 9 months ago

"please put the laptop away"

me watching him on a laptop not knowing what i should do.

by hfweuiofnweuio 9 months ago

My takeaways:
RIP Professor Winston. I have learnt a lot today, thank you!
1. We humans only have one language processor, so focus
How to start a talk?
2. Don't start with a joke, start with a promise
Some techniques
3. Cycle on the topic to reinforce it
4. Build a fence around our ideas, so audiences don't confuse them with the ideas from others
5. Use verbal punctuation to help audiences re-focus
6. Ask questions to audiences
Time & place
7. 11am is a good time for the 1st lecture of the day
8. The place should have good lighting condition, should be cased and reasonably populated
Tools: boards, props and slides
9. Chalks and boards are good for informing and teaching, slides are good for exposing
10. Chalks and boards are good for showing graphics. You can control the speed of talk to help audiences absorb contents, and use your hand to point a target on board
11. Props are useful to help audiences think about abstract things
12. Boards and props are great because empathic mirroring , i.e. audiences can feel they are doing the writing and demonstration
13. Bad slides contain too many pages and too many words
14. Audiences can be tired to switch between slides and speaker if they far away from each other
15. How to create good slides: simplification. Audiences will pay less attention to the speaker if their slides contain too many words
16. Font size shouldn't be large enough for easy reading
17. Lazer pointer reduces the speakers' chance to engage (e.g. eye contact) with audiences , using sign-post in the slides instead
18. Examples: Bad slides vs good slides
More techniques
19. How to inspire your audiences? Show your passion for the topic
20. An example of making a promise and showing passion
21. How to teach people how to think , Provide them with:
- The stories that they need to know
- The questions that they need to ask about these stories
- The mechanism to analyse these stories
- The ways to put together stories
- The ways to evaluate reliable stories
Oral exams
22. People usually fail them because they fail to situate the context and fail to practice
23. Practice your talk with people who don't know you work
24. Job talks
Getting famous
25. Why should you care about getting famous , because we want our work to be recognised and we need good communication skills to do that
26. How to get your presentation ideas to be remembered , we need to have: symbol, slogan, surprise, salient (ideas) and (tell a) story
How to end a talk
27. Some examples on final slides , show what you have done (i.e. contributions) and give audiences the time to read them!
28. Final words :
- A joke, his colleagues always end a talk with a joke, so people think they have had fun all the time :)
- The phrase "thank you" is a weak move, "thank you for listening" is even worse, it suggests that people listen to your talk because their politeness
- Some great endings without saying "thank you"
- Salute the audiences
His final salute

by Lei Xun 4 months ago

"I always finish with a joke, and that way people think they've had fun the whole time!"

by Voice Lab 1 month ago

"they will hallucinate there's material in your presentation that isn't there"

by Voice Lab 1 month ago

title: "How to speak"
the guy in the video: *starts speaking*
me: damn, he's good

by Sophus VD 9 months ago

I've seen Word documents with less detail--and that needed way more...

by ZeHoSmusician 2 months ago

Prof Winston had a profound effect on my life. I was an Electrical Engineering major when I took Prof Winston's Introduction to AI class in the early 80s. I still remember the excitement I had in his class over almost 40 years later. That course led me to do my Master thesis using AI and EE together and then go on to get a Ph.D. in Computer Science with an emphasis in AI at CMU. That one course changed my trajectory in life. Thank you, Prof Winston, so sorry to see you go. To his family, he made a difference in mine and so many other's lives.

by Team MindShift 2 months ago

I remember, "words are powerful" He said it many times.

by bipul kalita 8 months ago

How to start a talk.

1. Never start with a joke, it always falls flat.
2. Start with an empowerment statement, i.e. what will the audience achieve after the talk.
3. Humans have only one language processor, so make sure they focus on what you're saying.

Sample Heuristics:

1. Cycle on the topic. Repeat what are talking about to reinforce it
2. Build a fence around your ideas, so audiences don't confuse them with the ideas from others. Tell them how your idea is different from others.
3. Use verbal punctuation to help audiences re-focus. State what you have covered so far and what is there to come.
4. Ask questions. Engage the audience with moderately difficult questions every now and then. But not very difficult ones.

The Tools

Time & place:

1. Choose an appropriate time for talks. 11 am is a good time for the 1st lecture of the day.
2. The place should be well lit.
3. Know the place before hand, it should be cased so that you can address challenges if any.
4. Make sure it's reasonably populated.

Boards & Props:

1. Chalks and boards are good for informing and teaching.
2. Boards are well paced medium, people can absorb content while you write or draw graphics.
6. Using Boards and props helps in empathetic mirroring i.e. audiences think they are doing the writing and drawing
3. You can used hands to draw attention.
4. Slides are good for exposing.
6. Don't use laser pointers as they reduce the speakers' chance to engage with audiences, use a sign-post instead.
7. Slides should have minimum amount of words. You do the talking and explanation of the points.
8. Font size should be large enough for easy reading.
5. Props are useful to help audiences visualize things.
9. Practice your talk with people who don't know your work so that they don't hallucinate whats not in the presentation.


1. Show your passion towards the subject
2. Promise a solution to a problem
3. Inspire by igniting passion
3. Teach people how to think by:
- Providing stories that they need to know
- Providing questions that they need to ask about these stories
- Providing mechanism to analyse these stories
- Providing ways to put together stories
- Providing ways to evaluate reliability of the stories


1. Job Talks:
Vision - Tell them about a problem they'd be interested in and provide your approach to the solution.
Achievement - Provide the steps you will take to solve the problem

2. Getting Famous:
Why? - Because you want your work to be recognized.
How? - Brand your work, have a slogan, have a salient idea and have a story to tell.

How to End a Talk

1. The last slide - It should enumerate what the audience have learnt or achieved after this talk, give them the time to read.
2. Final words:
- Never thank the audience.
- End with a call to action.
- Alright, you can tell a joke now, people will think they've had fun all the while.

by Farhan Mughal 3 months ago

Once upon a time, I stayed up late at the MIT lab. On 6am , I saw professor Winston came to the lab and start drawing on the board. I asked professor "Hi Prof Winston, why are you here so early?" 
However, he ignored me, and keep drawing on the board...
After an hour, he called my name. "Hey Ernie, what's up?"
I looked at him and asked "Hi Prof, is this the drawing for the course later on this morning? Why did you practice the subject if you taught it so many times?"
He looked at me and smiled "I'm like an athlete, got to rehearse and improve my performance before every game! I've done it for many decades, and this is my commitment for students! "
At that moment, I have no word to describe my feeling, but having tears in my eyes and deepest respect from my heart.
The man standing in front of me is the ford professor at MIT, he practiced before each course even he had taught it for over 30 years, he showed his commitment and dedication to his students not by his words, but his actions!
He is Prof Patrick Henry Winston, a great spirit who inspired thousands and thousands of brilliant minds.
Prof Winston, please rest in peace…
Thank you for teaching and mentoring... your commitment and dedication for students always live deeply in our heart!

by Ernie Ho 9 months ago

When he said "put your laptop away" I was going to do it

by Ahmed Eng 8 months ago

I made a presentation following this advice and my teacher had the NERVE to tell me I was too lazy

by Jake Holland 1 week ago

Was it just me, or would he have been better off saying a quick 'thank you' after he saluted the audience? It felt unnatural that he didn't

by Matthew Kershaw 2 days ago

In addition to the hands it’s also directly connected to a “hand shake” and once a legal “contract” of sorts

by Will H 8 months ago

reminded me of my stud high school teacher

by CyberNerd1000 5 months ago

It would've have been funny at the end. if he said "Thank You" and than walked out.

by LandofnoneArt 2 months ago

Mp3 Download

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