Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Speaking at a college. Any advice?

DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
This up coming Wednesday, I'll be speaking to a Humanities class at a university. The teacher is an acquaintance of mine who goes to the same UU church I go to and has asked me to speak about my Buddhist, as well as Hindu, practice.

Any advice on the matter? I've spoken in front of crowds before (including college students), but never as a guest speaker. And, considering the school is in South Carolina, and it is a class on religion, I'm expecting there to be some awkwardness from at least one student. The teacher has told me that there are a few students who try to evangelize him every semester.

What are some subjects/topics that you feel are best left unsaid? What should the general feel/subject of the discussion to be?
EvenThird

Comments

  • I think you should write down some of the things that help in your life as you understand and then hunt for where you heard that thing. Maybe three main areas and cover those.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    The first time I ever had to give a speech was at an Honor Society induction ceremony. I had founded our branch. After it was over I asked an administrator to critique my performance. She said what I took to be the best speaking advice I ever got -- keep it personal. She said that as I spoke I seemed to alternate back and forth between things that were philosophical and things that were personal. She said I would begin to lose the audience with the philosophical points, but that when I was talking about my own personal experiences I had them "in the palm of my hand".

    So if it were me, I would probably tell them about the first Buddhist temple I visited in Thailand...what I saw...and what questions arose in my mind. Then I would probably tell them about the time, 2 weeks later, when a Buddhist Thai family took me to a temple and showed me what they did and how at a Buddhist temple. And from there, how did I learn more and some other personal anecdotes.

    Of course, it will make a big difference if the professor has already discussed Buddhism 101, or whether you will be their first interaction.
    EvenThirdJeffrey
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    @DaftChris - I would ask your acquaintance what he expects you to touch on in your talk. Perhaps they've discussed certain themes in the course so far that would pertain to your visit. Maybe try to relate your Buddhist/Hindu experience to those themes.

    Vastmind
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    I would also remember to add in, at some point, that if anyone is interested, to not take only your word for it.
    You speak from a personal PoV. Everything you have said is true, honest, from the heart, sincere and meaningful - but that it's something YOU alone have come to hold precious, as a calling, for yourself. Each interested individual should seek further information and different PoV's as answers to any queries, for themselves, and discern - again, for themselves - what they perceive to be logical, well-grounded and applicable.
    If something has struck a chord, you're very happy. But further insight is for them to discover, through enquiry and research.....
    Invincible_summerVastmind
  • "I will prepare and someday my chance will come", as Abe Lincoln said!

    Since your friend mentioned "awkwardness" from the audience, be ready with a smile, disarming question or comment. Above all don't let them ruffle you. Maybe open to comments at the end? Good luck!
    vinlyn
  • Is anyone going to video this talk? I'd love to see.
    Anyway, let us know how it goes.
    Break a Leg! :D
  • Speak about how buddhism helps you in everyday life, what does it mean to you?
  • Begin in silence for a moment or two. Look them in the eye. If they ask questions to which you don't know the answer or want to defer, ask them to give you their email address at the end of your talk and the get back to them. Do not, under any circumstances, give a Powerpoint show and keep making eye contact. The earlier you can get them to laugh the better - as used to find in sermons too. If possible, walk among them rather than stand a few feet above criticism.

    There's lots more but I hope that helps.
    MaryAnneJeffreyInvincible_summer
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    @Simonthepilgrim - I would argue that Powerpoint can be used effectively. It's just that most people use it as a presentation crutch.
    Vastmind
  • "There's nothing I can tell you about Buddhism that you can't find easier with a quick google on the internet, if you're really interested. Let me tell you what you can't learn on the internet. I'll tell you about my personal journey and what being a Buddhist means to me."

  • sovasova delocalized fractyllic harmonizing great lakes Veteran
    Well, if it's like a college talk, usually you'll introduce something new to most people, expound on a few points, and then discuss it with people. It might be good to start your discussion with what the time of Shakyamuni was like - very much like it is now - people looking for answers to deep questions.. The pursuit of understanding.

    You know, rouse their curiosity in the many various approaches of understanding in history. You can talk about how people became experts in meditative states and used these levels of stillness and deep awareness to investigate and pose questions about the cosmos..

    So rather than telling people something they don't know, appeal to their deeper curiosities.

    If presses, you could explain why you found other traditions inadequate for your personal seeking, but I think there really is a lot of overlap with many traditions, just that the wording is different. So, you may mention that some things you guys discuss might point to same or similar states, just with different labels. I think that's a good place to start "the finger that points at the moon is not the moon"

    Other ideas that might be of benefit to your preparations and discussion..

    There is a natural way the world works, whether we are aware of it or not..

    You can skillfully start the talk on a positive note by asking people to remember a time when they were kind or honest or generous when the opposite would have been easy. Or ask them to let a beautiful memory come to mind. If you can inspire one person you can call it a success
    Jeffrey
  • @Simonthepilgrim - I would argue that Powerpoint can be used effectively. It's just that most people use it as a presentation crutch.

    I agree. The point is to use it to illustrate. It does not replace the personal touch: do not turn your back on the audience.

    I would add that if you are going to give hand-outs, do it AT THE END when you have finished the talk and any Q&A.

  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    I know the school's not in Greenville. Right?

    Columbia should be fine.
  • DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
    Nirvana said:

    I know the school's not in Greenville. Right?

    Columbia should be fine.

    The school is in Aiken.

    USCA.

  • DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
    Well, I had my speech today and...it went well, but damn this class was just dead. The teacher had to practically coax his students to ask questions or participate in discussion.
  • That's disheartening, but...it is South Carolina after all :-) I'm from that part of the country so I can get away with saying that.
  • DaftChris said:

    This up coming Wednesday, I'll be speaking to a Humanities class at a university. The teacher is an acquaintance of mine who goes to the same UU church I go to and has asked me to speak about my Buddhist, as well as Hindu, practice.

    Any advice on the matter? I've spoken in front of crowds before (including college students), but never as a guest speaker. And, considering the school is in South Carolina, and it is a class on religion, I'm expecting there to be some awkwardness from at least one student. The teacher has told me that there are a few students who try to evangelize him every semester.

    What are some subjects/topics that you feel are best left unsaid? What should the general feel/subject of the discussion to be?

    Just talk about your personal experience.
Sign In or Register to comment.