More than you know: the case for paragraphs

What’s the difference between bullet points and a speech composed of full sentences linked together in paragraphs?

It’s the difference between listening to music on your iPod or listening to a streaming service like Pandora.

Think about it: The music on your iPod, or your phone, or your wristwatch, or [insert name of gadget we have no idea we require until the moment it’s invented] is there because you put it there. You put it there because you like it. Those devices merely repeat what you already know.

Your ideas, only fresher

But go to Pandora and create a unique station based on the music you like. Say you create a Frank Sinatra station. They’ll play you lots of Sinatra, but they’ll also play you Harry Connick, Jr. and Josh Groban and even a smattering of newer artists you haven’t heard of yet. Maybe some indie musicians like my friend Dane Vannatter.

With Pandora, you’re still in your wheelhouse—it’s the music you love. But you get to hear it in a new way. You get new inputs.

That’s what a great speech can do that talking points can’t. Full sentences, paragraphs following paragraphs, can give you a new lens on your ideas. This keeps your thinking fresh. Your audience stays more engaged because you’re more engaged.

And if you’re even slightly nervous about speaking, you’ll never lose your train of thought with a fully scripted speech—it’s all there for you. Just add rehearsal(s) and go.


Public Speaking

A lovely walking path follows the curves of the harbor across the street from San Diego’s convention center.  The path offers something for just about everyone: art (an arresting silver sculpture), nature (a small dog park with the prettiest dog-level drinking fountain I’ve ever seen), a reflecting pool (surrounding yet more art).  But the most interesting feature to me were the square granite plaques spaced every few feet along the path, with quotations engraved on them.

Now, San Diego is not the only city to do this: The public spaces in Manhattan’s Battery Park City feature passages by Walt Whitman and Frank O’Hara, celebrating what one web site calls “the exhilarating spirit of New York City.”   But those passages are actually about New York City.  The quotations in San Diego’s park were not created for or about San Diego; the man who wrote the words never lived there.

From the written word to the art inspired by it, the entire park – its official name is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade – celebrates the spirit and the vision of this great leader.  And the fact that San Diego has placed this tribute in such a prominent location, across the street from its Convention Center, where tens of thousands of tourists encounter it every day, gives even casual visitors a real sense of the culture and priorities of this beautiful city.

I can’t wait to go back.