Back to Soft Skills

Krys Boyd, of Think on KERA in Dallas, interviewed Brent Iverson of UT Austin and John Sibert of UT Dallas on her program today. They are respected teachers at the University level, and are each contributors to the book The Little Orange Book: Short Lessons in Excellent Teaching (University of Texas Press). You can listen to the full interview here. Their expertise is in the sciences, but, notice this portion of the interview:  A caller called in to tell a story of a teacher from his college days — a teacher who failed in the human interaction department with his students. The two guests responded partly with these words:

How are my students perceiving me?
This applies to people… Not (just) professors, but people. How you interact with others, especially if you have some content models, impact their view of that content…

This goes back to a very basic concept of rhetorical effectiveness from Aristotle — the power of ethos. Ethos: the ethical appeal, the credibility of the speaker/messenger. And, at the heart of ethos is the notion that the teacher/speaker has the goodwill of the audience at heart.

This is from one of my earlier blog posts: Does Your Audience Find You Trustworthy? — 4 Components Of Ethos. From that blog post:

In one of the textbooks I use in my teaching, Public Speaking (8th Edition) by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn, and Randall Osborn, they describe four components of ethos.  These are terrific.  Here they are, from the book, with my own take sprinkled in:

  • integrity – be trustworthy (ethical; honest; dependable)

  • competence – develop genuine expertise; know your subject well (informed; intelligent; well-prepared)

  • dynamism – raise the energy in the room whenever you speak (confident; decisive; enthusiastic)

  • goodwill – have the best interests of your audience at heart.  Always mean them well, never mean them harm.

Or…  to put it all in simple terms:

  • you can trust me
  • because I have prepared well
  • and, I believe this deeply enough to get excited about it – and I work hard to stay current
  • and I share this with you to help you succeed in your own pursuits.

Enter every speaking assignment with these components of ethos at the front of your mind, and you will become known as trustworthy – a person of good character, speaking well.

Goodwill; effective interactions. It always comes back to the soft skills, doesn’t it?

Randy Mayeux
Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

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