Here are notes on the MIT lecture How to Speak by Patrick Winston:

How to Speak

How to Start

Start with an empowerment promise.


Cycle on the subject.

Build a fence around an idea. This helps distinguish your idea.

Use verbal punctuation.
People occasionally fog out. Provide landmarks for them to get back on track.

Ask a question.
You can wait for 7 seconds for an answer. Choose your question carefully. Not too obvious, not too hard.

Time and Place

Around 11am: people are awake, before the meal.

Place: well-lit, audience should not fall asleep.

Case the place before.


Slides: for exposing knowledge

Always: too many slides, too many words.

Blackboard & chalk: for informing, teaching, lecturing.


  • has a graphic quality
  • speed: The speed in which you write down things corresponds to the speed on which the audience can grasp your ideas
  • target: speaker has something to do with their hands

Props are important for mirror neurons: audience is more engaged because they feel like writing on the board or using the prop.

How to Improve Slides

  • do not read
  • be in the image
  • keep images simple
  • eliminate clutter

Force the audience to listen to you instead of reading the slides.

Avoid the laser pointer crime: you need to point to the slides and lose contact to the audience.

How to Inspire

Exhibit passion.

How to Teach People How to Think

Provide people with

  • the stories they need to know
  • questions they need to ask about those stories
  • mechanisms for analyzing
  • ways of putting stories together
  • ways of evaluating how reliable a story is

How to Persuade

Job Talks

You have 5 minutes to show that

  • you have vision
  • done something

Vision relates to a problem that somebody cares about. You offer something new in your approach.

List the steps to solve the problem you presented - you don’t have to have completed all steps.

Enumerate your contributions to establish that you’ve done something.

Get Recognition

Why should you care?
You never get used to being ignored.


You need a

  • symbol for your work
  • slogan
  • surprise
  • salient idea
  • story

How to Stop

Final Slide


  • thank collaborators (put it on the first slide)
  • questions?
  • more details see link
  • “the end”
  • conclusions



Final Words

“Thank you” is a weak move.

You can tell a joke.

Salute the audience.