Seth Lawrence

ChatGPT is gnarly. Creatives everywhere are: rejoicing, recoiling, cowering, and exalting. The program as an incredible milestone in tech with untapped consequences on the world economy. Entire industries from content creation to legal await the affects of the new technology on their livelihoods. Programs like these are getting much better, more each day. And with answers soon to be at our fingertips we will soon have a choice: do we let computers think for us?

I'd be lying if I haven't tried to get ChatGPT to churn out a finished product.

It is *so* easy. [Students at both Furman University and Northern Michigan University]( have already committed the sin of turning in AI generated work. Hell, I'd be lying if I haven't tried to get ChatGPT to churn out a finished product. Churning out well written, though uninspired, prose at massive volume, it can feel as though you're talking to an all knowing [singularity]( The thing about know-it-alls: they're often wrong.

... it provided five reference dating to the early 2000s. None of the provided paper titles existed, and all provided PubMed IDs (PMIDs) were of different unrelated papers.

Professors caught on to the infractions due to incorrect information. The AI has a tendency to assert falsehoods with incredible confidence (Business Insider). It's like any political news outlet far from center... that eagerly answers questions on complex medical topics. When researchers asked ChatGPT for references, the AI “provided five reference dating to the early 2000s. None of the provided paper titles existed, and all provided PubMed IDs (PMIDs) were of different unrelated papers” (Alkaissi). The AI produces responses with no intelligible trail to follow for fact-checking. This is a problem.

We solve it by sidestep. We can refrain from having it give us the “what,” and rely on it for giving clues to the “how.” After defining my thesis for this blog post, I created my outline using the bot. Because I roughly know how to structure a short essay, I can use ChatGPT as part of the creative process.

ChatGPT can provide the spark to the human engine

Think of ChatGPT as something that provides clarity. Don't think of ChatGPT or AI assist as something to do your job for you. Provide ChatGPT with your goals, and use it as a tool to give you a jump start. It is more important to get started than to be perfect, so feel free to use it for getting started. ChatGPT can provide the spark to the human engine. You.


Alkaissi H, McFarlane S I (February 19, 2023) Artificial Hallucinations in ChatGPT: Implications in Scientific Writing. Cureus 15(2): e35179. doi:10.7759/cureus.35179

Business Insider. “Professors Caught Students Cheating on College Essays With ChatGPT.” Business Insider, 26 Dec. 2022,

For the past few months, I've been coaching kids who have been playing Ultimate twice as long as I have. In this blog post, I'll be covering my (limited) experience as a coach. I'll go over basic structure of practices, my challenges, and my successes.

Humble Beginnings

I didn't expect I would become so involved as a coach. Having been captain last year, it was only natural that I try it out. When given the opportunity last October to begin coaching, I leapt at it. It didn't matter the pay, the time, or who I was working with. After a short trial run with a middle school camp, I jumped at the next opportunity: coaching a High School B-team. Now, I found myself working with premier club players and professionals. Jon Lee and Raphy Hayes, world's level players, were my guides.

If you want to master something, teach it. -Richard Feynman

While I wasn't given the creative freedom I once had as a captain, I found myself learning as I coached. I would listen to Jon and Raphy, having no idea what they were talking about, and turn around to teach the material. I took notes on what I learned. I answered questions I likely didn't have the right to answer. Everything Jon and Raphy said made sense, but I had never had the words or the opportunity to understand.

A Standard Formula

Coaching ultimate frisbee follows a pretty standard formula. You have them throw, warm up, and do a drill. Then you have them scrimmage in a game designed to test their new skill. You introduce a new skill, or revisit one, and do it again. Then, you run a standard scrimmage to end out.

I'm accustomed to college: expectations can be set high. Adults are making the choice to play, and they hold themselves to high standards. Middle school was a rout, expectations are completely pointless. At this age, getting them to play is the most important thing. Are they not crying? Awesome.

As the kids get older, they become more independent. They lead the warm-ups. They teach the newer kids the basics. It becomes easier to focus on the tactics. I like that part.


The goal of coaching younger kids is inspiring them to love the sport. It isn't improvement. As someone who fetishizes improvement, I found it difficult to refrain from criticizing. My job was to make sure everyone was having a good time first and develop their skills later. I suppose those become more synonymous with age.

My second challenge came in the form of deciding who would not make the team I was coaching. Coming from a DIII scho0l, that is unheard of. We accepted everyone, provided they came to practice. We would teach them anything, if they asked. Now, I had to play judge, jury, and executioner. For kids. I struggled with names, I struggled with feeling bad about turning away eager faces. I put more effort into rejection emails than any effort-minimizer would. I gave due consideration. If I had to turn away players, I would give them everything I could to keep them interested. Youtube videos, hand drawn drill diagrams, paragraphs. It was all a bit ridiculous, and the head administrator made fun of me for it. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

My last challenge, and one that I am still working on, is my own imposter syndrome. I watch the A-team from the sideline, and I worry: are my throws this good? Am I this quick? I'm 22, and I'm already afraid I am washed. I'd like to think this is a good thing: a little bit of fear keeps the gears turning. I'd like to label this fear as unfounded, that I can dumpster on these kids any time I chose to. But I have struggled with injury the last couple months and am recovering from a broken knee. It'll be a time before I am confident enough in my body to let loose. This is a fear that I will have to master, a fear that I will need to use as motivation. And I won't have any evidence that my efforts are working, for now.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain

I've made the practice squad of a professional team. I am still intimidated by high schoolers with double my experience. I choose to laugh at this, because it's funny.

Embracing the Small Wins

Coaching has given me the opportunity to gain confidence. My advice led to improvement. When I see one of my players put in place something I mentioned to great success, their success is mine as well. When they explain to another player what I explained to them, I've done my job. When they say “I don't know” to something we haven't yet explained, and they seek guidance, I have done my job well. Leadership is strange in that its results are like dominoes, rather than a scoreboard. I'm learning to enjoy that.

The culmination of our season was last weekend, at the Seven Hills Invite. My team, OYU B, was seeded the worst performing squad at the tournament. We were. But we improved. We scored more than the game before without fail, and we did so against better teams. A spectator labeled us as “disciplined” (and boy did that make my heart soar). We worked the disc up the field, stringing passes together like a work of art. Athleticism and power beat our squad of freshman and sophomores, not clean play. We could have set flat forces, or given away easier under cuts, and a whole host of other things. There's always more to do. I am proud of the work our squad put in, and I am impressed by how we tied together the quickest club season I have ever seen.

Wrap Up

Coaching is not something I expected to love so much, but it has become a highlight of my week. It's brought both my strengths and weaknesses to the forefront and has caused me to grow. All I can conclude is that I will keep doing it when I can.

Contribution in a tweet

In this blog post, I explore how the philosophy of Essentialism can help me prioritize my health and focus on small wins during my recovery from a broken knee. #essentialism #health #recovery

At the moment, I find myself stifled. Immobile. Bored, and unsatisfied.

I’ve been taken out of my passion and primary social outlet of Ultimate Frisbee with a broken knee. I struggle to stay focused on my job due to the loneliness of remote work. I feel insecure in living at home, while I sort out these aspects of career. And I simply feel like I am not doing enough.

I’ve rushed it, these last few days. After feeling marginally better physically, I’ve pushed myself too hard and have had the pleasure of a (hopefully) visiting numbness across my kneecap. Back to the bunker.

During this time of being forced to do less, how can I make it my own?

Essentialism offers not a solution, but a philosophy for these questions. In short, it goes as follows:

  1. Priority — What matters most?

  2. Identify obstacles — Which obstacle, if removed, would make the most obstacles disappear along with it?

  3. Small wins — create signs of visible progress, and use that progress to build momentum.

  4. Stay present — let go of worry by focusing on the task at hand

  5. Optimize your routine — free up your mental energy for what really matters

  6. Say no — value your time by its effect on your purpose

  7. Stay mindful — relate it all back to why you’re doing it in the first place.

My Application

What single thing matters most?

It is incredibly difficult to give a single answer to this question. In short: it is my health. My brain is gnawing at me for not choosing career, not choosing independence. In reality, my health is the biggest obstacle in the way of achieving those things, and so it is also my biggest priority.

What obstacles are standing in the way of my health?

To name a few: my need to socialize, my craving to exercise, my inconsistency in icing, elevating, and my hesitance to medicate, my personal space being perhaps ill-suited for work. Conveniently, I believe my priority obstacle is also first on this list. I find myself craving small talk, talking to people on the bus, or asking the receptionist how their day is going. Call me crazy, but I love it. Perhaps I'm an extrovert, though I am still in denial about it.

How can I make the small wins obvious?

I'm recovering from a broken knee, which means my shit is kinda fucked up. I'm at roughly a 90 degree comfortable bend at the moment (a little less), but all my strength still feels there. What I am most keen on is flexibility, so am I to take a protractor and measure where I am at throughout the day? One way to make that regular is by lifting my knee until gravity and my inflexibility match, preventing any further movement. I could tape a piece of paper to my wall, recording the height of my knee at the edge of discomfort.

How can I focus on the present?

I recently got let onto the idea of lovingkindness meditation, and so I could be incorporating that into my routine. Mantras such as “Can I be the best to my knee as possible?” and “Can I take the time to properly heal?” feel like good guiding questions to prioritize my rehabilitation.

How do I optimize my routines?

A good change in routine is a small one. One thing I can certainly do is be sure my favorite ice pack (what a concept) is in the freezer as I go to bed.

What do I say no to?

While it hurts, I must say no to playing frisbee. A single point is too much. I can toss, but I will not run. I'm also not dancing. That would suck.

How can I be mindful?

I like to journal. A reflective question at night and some affirmations in writing in the morning would do well to keep my mind on my recovery.

A Recipe

If you're feeling inspired, do as I did. Here are the questions you may ask yourself.

Essentialism: the worksheet

  1. What single thing matters most?
  2. What obstacles are standing in the way of my pursuit, and which obstacle is the most impactful?
  3. How can I make the small wins obvious?
  4. How can I stay present, letting go of worry?
  5. How can I optimize my routines to make my pursuit more effortless?
  6. What will I say 'no' to?
  7. How can I stay mindful of the choices I am making?

I find myself asking too many questions.

Optimize, explore, incorporate; if I were to add more words to this list, all would lose meaning.

This is the way of perfecting. A never ending recursion of new problems to solve. This is, in a strange way, helplessness.

As I write this, I find myself asking too many questions. I lose track of what is important. Simplicity of process is the answer, and it hurts.

Tools are beautiful. They let us accomplish wonderful things that we otherwise would never have even set our eyes on. They allow us to build, sculpt, imagine, and remember. They also allow us to become distracted.

Tools come with a promise: use me and do what you have to (easier)(better)(faster)(-er). They promise more for less. What they often fail to divulge is the energy and consistency required to see benefit. They fail to divulge the time commitment away from your work they consume.

I procrastinate by buying into these promises. The promises of technology, the promises of technopoly. I procrastinate by delegating responsibility of my dreams to the promises of tools.

The real question is this: how can I know what tool I need if I have not done the work?

In what world am I an expert on my own craft when I am yet to make it? Who am I to test the untested when I myself am untested? I frustrate myself with novelty, and all that I can do to fight against it is frustrate myself with outing it. I spoke of simplifying in my last post. I praise it again here.

I find myself asking too many questions, about what does not matter. I hope to reduce my ability to find these questions, rather than resist my urge to answer them. This way, I limit myself only to what I truly care about.

Rudders and Oars

I have done well to write consistently. Simply keeping up with posting on Mondays and Thursdays is plenty for me, as well as my own journal habit.

I fear I have not done my best in sharing openly. My first two blog posts were, dare I say, uninspired. While I won't wait for inspiration to strike, I do hope to choose topics that I care more about. Though this post is my oar, I hope to add real reflection and personal contextualization in my future posts. I have had a difficulty in writing about what is meaningful to me; whether that is because I don't know what to write or simply don't want to think on these things is up in the air (the air errs on the side of the latter). I suppose this will take time, as all things do.

Same as consistency, this promise to write a post biweekly has created accountability. I've had 3 instances in which I have been asked for my posts, and 3 instances in which I have failed to provide the link! While I am forgetful, and perhaps a tad absent minded, I have amended these and am proud to say I have kept to my schedule.

Am I teaching what I am learning? Perhaps. I felt pressured to learn, as might have been clear in my preliminary posts. Simply selecting a topic, a lecture to summarize or a point from a book I had yet to contextualize in the fashion I had hope, does not suffice in my eyes. How can I teach when I myself have not put in the time to create real learning?

My Quartet

Over the past two weeks I have done well to continue reading what I set out to. I, however, have struggled with consistency not of content, but of method.

Education and content is wonderful and lovely when it is routinely processed. Over the last two years, as I returned to learning from my COVID hiatus of platform fighters and personal dissatisfaction, I have consistently sought the perfect “personal knowledge management” software. I'll give you a quick hint: it doesn't exist. At this moment, I have devolved gratefully to a combination of handwritten notes and notepad, the default Windows .txt software.

This process of confronting my “intelligent” procrastination has been rewarding. I feel as though I have actually gotten some work done, in transcribing my thoughts to a single medium, and I am excited to share those thoughts when I am done.

I failed to mention the purpose of reading these books, but I feel as though I am narrowing in on it. I read these books at a time in which I was inspired, incredibly motivated, and surrounded by people who brought out the best in me. The also gave me the confidence to bring out the worst. Having recently – though I fear I am verging on the edge of being able to say that – graduated college, I find myself with a general degree with many soft skills, yet few hard skills. I hope to gain from my Quartet the tools and focus to truly develop a hard skill that I can bring to market: copy writing.

These books share many similarities, and weave common threads. I hope to expose these threads by producing an educated plan for developing this skill in myself over the next half year.

Focus, as a skill

Throughout my life, I have been blessed and cursed with obsession. I have breezed through the required and obsessed on fads ranging from Rubik's cubes to yo-yos, to chess and the like. I've however, found myself in a position where the required is not so easily coasted on: I am no longer assigned work in the traditional sense.

My situation is often one I am not proud of. Working a remote job part time, pursuing a professional Ultimate career, and living at home is a combination of existence that I was not prepared for. Plagued by injury, the solitude of remote work, and the typhoon of living with family amongst dynamics old and new alike, I've found myself craving distraction.

My primary distraction taken away by injury, the pleasure of self reflection and determination has come to me. While the prior sentence sounds to be coming from a place of confidence, it is more akin to personal assurance. It is the story I tell myself to move myself forward. The stories we tell ourselves end in the same way, funnily enough.

As I learn, or re-learn, to focus on crafting the story I choose for myself, I find myself looking to the small wins: I found myself reading nearly two entire books in the same number of days, all while reading a fantasy novel for pleasure. I've nearly all of my coaching obligations despite my injury. I've kept up with this blog.

I am in the process of focusing my life toward what I aim it to be. This is not confused with goal setting. I have no idea what it is I would like to be doing in years to come, I have no grandiose delusions (anymore) of my placement in the world (perhaps optimistic, feel free to knock me down a peg or two when you feel the whim). I only know how I feel about my day to day.

I would like to write thoughtfully. I would like to read interesting material. I would like to play ultimate at an increasingly high level. I would like to be honest.

Trying too hard is exactly that

Flow is real, and flow is honesty at work. I don't need to be anywhere right now, only engaged in the now. If I find myself straining, I will trust that it is not the fault of my motivation or my desire, only the fault of the systems I employ. Curious tinkering, and playful reflection are the name of the game. I only wish to keep playing.

My previous posts were trying to hard. Too hard to be valuable, and too hard to show completeness. Nothing I do is complete. Done is better than perfect, and waiting for perfect gets old, quickly.

Who is this for?

At first I was undecided. The authors of blogs I admired, or rather a couple of the authors I am reading, seem to sell as they write while selling what they write. I don't mean to do that. My first two, proper articles were examples of that, selling some idea that wasn't even mine to sell. My third was fun. I loved that. Why? Because it was a topic that I sought to understand, and so my sharing was inspired. I am no longer undecided. You might even say I am decided... and you might even say that was nowhere near as clever as I thought it might be.

This blog is for me. It is to put into the world evidence of my own progress. It is my scorecard, in a sense. I have first say and final say of what goes here... that does not mean, however, that I am doing this alone.

If any of my writing inspires you to share something you feel will make my life more interesting, please do. I'll respond if it is something that I wish to pick your brain about some more. “Ctrl + F” email on the home page for my contact.

Why? Because this is a grammatically correct sentence:

“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

Yep. You read that right. I was once confused by this too, just two days ago. You see, this is an Ultimate frisbee chant.

Confusing? Check. Fun to say? Check. An inside joke that barely makes sense to anyone who isn't in on it?


If you're like me, you're re-reading this chant over and over. I'm someone who likes to understand what I'm told. I don't like to be out of the loop.

And I am stubborn. So now I'm writing a blog post about it.

If you'd like to puzzle this out on your own, be my guest. It's thirty minutes well spent. Come back and see if we’re on the same page when you’re satisfied with your attempt.

Let’s Break it down

In order to understand why this is a complete sentence, we have to understand what a complete sentence is made up of.

  1. The Subject The performer.

  2. The Predicate The action being performed.

  3. The Object The recipient of the action.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. [The quick brown fox](subject) [jumps over](predicate) [the lazy dog](object).

I ate a sandwich. [I](subject) [ate](predicate) [a sandwich](object).

Luckily for us, “Buffalo” can mean

  1. A noun (bison)

  2. A proper noun (Buffalo, NY)


  1. A verb (to intimidate, bully, or harass) – betcha didn't know that one. I didn't.

Build it up

If we're going by sentence form, we can start simple:

[Buffalo](subject) [buffalo](predicate) [buffalo](object)

In other words, bison bully bison. Great. We're almost halfway there.

Which parts can we extend using our limited (singular) vocabulary, and which can we not?

Well, we can extend a subject by describing it. “A fox” can become “A brown fox” can become “A quick brown fox.”

Our fox could even hail from the great city of Buffalo, NY, making it a “A quick brown *Buffalo* fox.” By this logic, our buffalo could become “Buffalo buffalo.”

We can also extend a verb, using adverbs, but not with “buffalo.” A shame, but we will live.

Using our new buffalo from Buffalo, we can extend both our subject and object. [Buffalo buffalo] [buffalo] [Buffalo buffalo] .

At an impasse

How do we extend this further? Just as we described our buffalo further, let's try to describe our “Buffalo buffalo” further.

Let's take this sentence for example:

Pat paints on canvas.

What if I want to talk specifically about the canvas in this sentence? I would not just say “canvas,” but rather I would say

“Canvas that Pat paints”

We can describe objects by the events they have experienced. We can even get rid of “that” with it still making sense.

“Canvas Pat paints”

Using this formula, what would a buffalo that is intimidated by other buffalo be called?


They would be “buffalo (that) buffalo buffalo!” And buffalo from Buffalo that are targeted by buffalo from Buffalo?


They would be “[Buffalo buffalo] [Buffalo buffalo] buffalo!” That's five “buffalo” in a single subject of a sentence!

Last steps

Now that we have a new subject, let's insert it into our old phrase. [(Buffalo buffalo) (Buffalo buffalo) buffalo] buffalo [Buffalo buffalo].

And we're done. That's eight buffalo in a single, grammatically correct sentence.

And I am off to bed, having fulfilled my deadline. Enjoy your newfound grammatical toy.


ChatGPT 5 Sentence Summary: The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results. Warren Buffet applies this idea to investing, only choosing to invest in the 20% of opportunities he deems “great” while leaving the 80% of merely “good” investments. Joseph Juran, a quality control specialist, adapted the principle to quality control finding that solving just a few problems could greatly increase quality. In order to apply the principle to personal goals, one can ask for feedback from teammates or coaches, as they are the customers with expectations for your performance. By analyzing feedback data, one can determine which areas to focus on for improvement, as well as which areas to focus on when performance is needed, leading to the biggest impact possible. Ultimately, recruiting the community in one's endeavor can provide valuable insight and perspective.


By the end of this article, you’ll have a rule of thumb to help guide you in how you spend your time.


Have you ever felt like what you’re doing isn’t having the impact you would like? Or found yourself spread thin from too many possible ventures?

The simple fact is that most of what we do, and where we spend our time, doesn’t amount to much. According to Vilfredo Pareto (a name to envy), 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results.

Warren Buffet uses this idea, opting only to invest in the 20% of opportunities he sees as “great” while leaving behind the 80% of merely “good” investments. This is the positive application of the Pareto Principle.

Joseph Juran, a quality control specialist at Western Electric, adapted the idea: solving just a few problems could greatly increase quality. By making extensive use of employee surveys, Juran isolated the most impactful shortcomings of his company’s manufacturing process and sought to eliminate them. This methodology was so successful that, later in his career, Juran was instrumental in the association of “Made in Japan” and quality. This is the negative application of the Pareto Principle.

Achieving Ultimate Quality

Consider an Ultimate Frisbee player who doesn’t know what they should be working on to bring their game to the next level.

At the moment, they are training an equal amount of time in the following five categories:

  1. Aerial Ability (vertical), through targeted weightlifting and direct practice

  2. Agility, through plyometrics

  3. Speed, through targeted weightlifting and track workouts

  4. Positional Awareness, by watching film

  5. Focused Throwing

After a few weeks of data collection (dedication!) asking teammates and coaches for negative feedback, our player is confronted with the following data:

A quick look at this graph shows that spending the same amount of time on track workouts and vertical training is a waste. It also shows that those areas with little negative feedback are likely areas in which our player excels. In game-time situations, it may be best to stick to what you're good at.

It may be tempting to say that filling out weaknesses is a waste of time: sports require specialized skill sets, and you should work on your strengths while delegating your weaknesses. This is the beauty of direct feedback. Your teammates and your coaches are your customers. When giving you feedback, they are already taking into account their expectations for you.

While this (short) article has mostly devolved into a fan-gasm for taking personal statistics on the things you care about, the point is clear. In order to make the biggest impact possible, you need to recruit your community in your endeavor. Just like in Ultimate, it is rare that you have the best perspective. Ask the sideline, and listen.

By reading this article, you will be exposed to better speaking heuristics. These simple suggestions and tools are a a condensation of Patrick Winston’s “How to Speak” lecture, a remarkably witty meta-lecture on how to give better presentations.

Starting with how to start, we will move onto some tips for delivery, setting the time and place, an overview of the tools you will use, and finishing strong.

“Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.” – Dionysius Of Halicarnassus

Silence is a commodity, nowadays. Given that everyone is being bombarded with noise, how do we go about not intruding upon our listeners? The answer lies in honesty.

Clearly state what you will give to your audience (in exchange for their attention). Now that they understand what it is they are to look out for, all that is left is delivery.

It’s not DiGiorno


How do you go about delivering your message while staying connected to your audience?

Firstly, repeat yourself. By cycling around your topic, returning to various points along the way, you give the audience the opportunity to make multiple points of connection.

Secondly, build a fence around your idea; understanding what you’re not saying can help contextualize what you are saying. (Courtesy of Professor Winston) The concept of an arch only makes sense when you understand that a building consisting of two pillars, without a connection on top, is not an arch. It’s through the comparison of two things that we can classify both.

The third method for retaining your audience’s understanding is by re-grounding them in the purpose of what is being said. See what I did there?

Lastly, encouraging active participation from your audience can do wonders in improving retention and investment. Ask them a question, and guide them through the answer. Positivity is crucial here, you want to encourage participation, not stifle it.

Set the scene

The preconditions (time and place) of your speech can be easy to overlook.

Alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic (woo!)

Put simply, choose a time for your talk that sets them up to be able to pay attention.

Consider a sport psychology talk given to a university Ultimate Frisbee team (shoehorned that in, didn’t I). When would be the ideal time to schedule on a Saturday, when they have a 9-11AM practice? 1. 8:00 AM 2. 11:30 AM 3. 1:00 PM

Option 3 reigns supreme. Put yourself in the shoes of a player: You’re already expected to be waking up at 8:30 AM on a Saturday as a college student, you’ll be stinky afterward, and you’ve likely skipped breakfast. Everyone will benefit from those players having lunch and taking a shower...

As an organizer, you have to think about the habits of your audience when scheduling. You want them to show up, after all.

Choose the right venue

What is the worst possible venue for a speech you could think of?

Odds are, it commits one of these three faults: 1. It’s not well lit. While your slides my shine brightly,

“It’s impossible to see through closed eyelids.” – Professor Winston

  1. It’s inaccessible. Both you and your audience benefit from having easy access to the space, without confusing directions and obstacles. The speaker benefits even more, as you want to case the space before hand, as to not be surprised during your talk.

  2. It’s improperly sized. Your room should be at least half full, while still allowing your audience a comfortable viewing experience.

Tools of the trade

What is your intention in your talk?

People learn slowly, so be slow

If it is to teach, use a whiteboard or chalk. Writing on a board allows your audience to follow along, encourages them to actively take notes, and it give you, the presenter, something to do with your hands besides awkward flailing/shoving them in your pockets.

Your slides suck. So do mine.

If it to introduce ideas, slides are good. However, most presentations are horrendous. A general rule of thumb from professor Winston:

“You have too many slides, and those slides have too many words”

Isn’t it awesome, that this is somehow always true? It’s like magic.

When using your now reduced slides, do not use a pointing device. Turning your back on your audience is a surefire way to disconnect. If you’re turning to your slides to read from them, you 1. probably have too many words on your slides 2. don’t know your material well enough

Here’s how you should use the yardstick your professor has been hitting the board or projector screen with

Yardstick destruction

For a more detailed account of making better slides, watch this excerpt from Winston’s talk.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Use props. By creating a dynamic physical or visual representation of your idea, you give the audience the opportunity to guess for themselves what will happen. In a way, a prop is performative question to the audience.

Thaw your sponges before trying to use them

If you are hoping to inform your audience, you best be sure they are ready to absorb the information you are presenting them with.

Luckily, the first step to doing this is the empowerment promise mentioned earlier in this post. After this, it’s your responsibility to inspire your audience’s curiousity.


When asked what inspired them students mentioned their teachers believing in them, professors mentioned someone shedding new light on a subject, but everyone mentioned the speaker’s passion for the subject.

Hopefully you’re passionate about what it is you would like to present, because it’s difficult to fake. If you’re looking for passion in your work, ask yourself “what do I find cool about this project?” and present that. At the end of the day, we’re just here to do cool stuff.

How to finish

Don’t: say thank you. You don’t need to tell your audience they stayed to be polite. Some of them already know that.

Telling a joke is a good option, as it may fool your audience into believing they had fun the whole time!

If you’re in US politics, you can end with “God bless you, and Bless America.”

The best way is to conclude with your contribution.

A Recap

This article has provided tips for giving better presentations by summarizing the “How to Speak” lecture by Patrick Winston. Hopefully, it has taken you less time to read than it would have taken you to watch the lecture. Still, if you want to learn the material, I suggest you watch.

Sailing Away

What you will gain from this: hopefully, something that inspires you and a laugh.

As the title suggests, this is my first blog post. As with starting anything, I believe it is important to set some intentions, and some planning. I hope you like boats.

My Rudders 🛞

The intentions that will guide me through this process.

  1. To write consistently
  2. To share openly
  3. To create accountability
  4. To teach what I am learning (selfishly)

I believe these rudders are a good start; goals and intentions mean little to nothing if not followed up by process oriented thinking. So, what will be driving me forward? If rudders are what steer me, these are my oars!

My Oars 🚣

To write consistently

This is priority number one. As I've read from folks like James Clear, Scott Young, and (insert third author to satisfy the rule of three) directly practicing what it is you would like to gain skill in is key to, well, developing that skill. My posts may be garbage, but it'll be like putting on make-up: my writing is for me, not you.

I'll be setting a deadline for two posts a week: Mondays and Thursdays. Today is neither of those days, meaning I'll be getting extra practice.

To share openly

One of the most daunting things about writing is that others will read it. Worst of all, I may read it. By sharing what I write, I hope to be allaying what anxiety I have about my writing being perceived. Heck, even writing this section is a testament to this rudder.

One way to be open and honest is to share personal reflection. As such, I will dedicate a biweekly blog post to my success with these very goals.

To create accountability

While my intentions with this may be good, I will not trust myself to be the sole arbiter of my own success. Luckily, I have friends who will likely drudge through whatever bog I put out.

Duncan, Nick, (and now!) Avi, Please hold me accountable to this. Perhaps this means I have to send you a draft the evening before my post is due, or we meet weekly to discuss yours and my goals, or something along those lines. Anyhow, I already mentioned to you both that I wanted to spend this year developing my skill as a writer.

To teach what I am learning

You may be wondering why I wrote “...(selfishly)” in my outlining above. The simple answer is that teaching is, in my experience, the best test of one's knowledge possible. And, in my opinion, if you want to truly learn what it is I am writing about I am not going to be the best source.

The Feynman Method

In the near future, you can expect posts on a collection of my favorite books: Ultralearning, Deep Work, Essentialism, and Atomic Habits. Additionally, you may see some writing on ultimate frisbee, knowledge management, and (is this joke funny a second time?).

Thank you for reading

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns please reach out to me by email at caedensethln[at]gmail[dot]com. Cal Newport may scoff at this invitation, and you may learn about why if you keep reading.

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