The difference between speaking and teaching — Seize the Room

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What is speaking?

If you “speak” for a 45 minute session at a conference, that usually implies that you’re up there, on the stage, running through your slides, talking to the audience, presenting material in a fairly straightforward way—usually, you’re telling them about things or showing them examples of work that you’ve done. That’s what I consider speaking. You or the conference organizer have decided that you have specific things to say, to speak about, to share. Speaking is all about you and the knowledge that you have that you’re giving to the audience.

But what would “teaching” entail? How would it be different?

What is teaching?

If you’re teaching, you’re thinking about the learner. Those people in the audience. You’re thinking about their state of mind. Their prior learning and knowledge. Their experiences. And you’re thinking about what they need—to go off and do their job better, to sell more, or to take action and change the world.

In that case you’ll create learning objectives (I like starting with these four questions — what do I want them to know and do, and what do I want them to feel and who do I want them to be?) . . . .


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