This week Seneca’s on the war path about oral. Communication, that is. Frustrated by Lucilius’s admiration for a gabbling philosopher, Seneca lays out how to speak well and speak effectively in public and to others. This rapidly brings up a bunch of issues we face every day: how do we convince other people? How can we speak with ease and style? And how can we discern and disarm the bullshitters out there?
This comes from Letter 40, thrillingly entitled ‘On the proper style for a philosopher’s discourse’, which, following Seneca’s own advice, we’ve decided to translate as: ‘speak proper, bruv’. (We also begin to seriously wonder whether Lucilius was just Seneca’s imaginary friend – was he just a teddy bear propped up in the corner with a pile of fancily-titled letters next to him?)
First off, Seneca urges to think about the value of real personal connection, especially in the form of personal letters written to those you care about. While we’re hyper connected in the modern world, the quality of that contact has diminished; brief yet constant text messages just don’t carry the same emotional weight and power of connection that you get from a handwritten letter (or at least a thoughtfully written email).
But aside form nurturing the relationships that mean the most to us, there’s also a strategic angle to play with here – keeping the warmth of personal contact going can come in handy when you actually need a hand from someone.
At its heart, this letter is about having something to say, rather than just saying something. And that touches on some quite primal fears for most people. Speaking in public is one of the greatest and most common fears out there, so we’ve got a few mental tips and tricks to more confidently get your thoughts across. And then to recognise when you’re in the unpleasant company of someone who just feels the need to make mouth noises, rather than actually have a conversation.
Timing is a powerful tool, but often we fear silence – the sound of embarrassment and desperately searching for something to say. But if we can work on cadence and confidence, silence can be a potent part of storytelling – not something to be feared and shied away from. On the flipside, Jon shares his continuing struggle to master the art waiting, rather than bringing up whatever anxieties or issues that’re on his mind right now…
This also brings us into the realm of bullshit artists, online marketers, and other hucksters who try to bamboozle and confuse you with fast-paced yet ultimately empty words. Tai Lopez, infamous internet marketer, is a prime example, and we challenge you to make any sense of his videos. They might be performance art, but they’re empty of value and meaning. So why do so many people still put their hands in their pockets and throw money at him?
This kind of thing runs rampant in the self-help world, but so much of that domain is taken up not by value and content, but by the stress relief you feel by ‘taking the step’ of putting money down to attend the seminar or buy the book. Sound familiar?
We’ve got a bunch of personal stories to share from our own highs and lows when it comes to public speaking, and in the process of thinking about it royally fuck ourselves over as we start to notice every ‘um’ and ‘ah’ in the podcast. If you feel like counting them up for us… please don’t.
- Improving the quality of your toilet time
- What would Dumbledore do?
- How not to use PowerPoint
- Self-help addiction
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