In the sixth Carnegie session, we focused on two things: giving clear instructions and thinking on our feet. For the first exercise, we each demonstrated and explained some procedure for performing some task. The focus was on providing clear instructions followable by a person unfamiliar with the task. We learned about painting, hair braiding, valve reading, and several other tasks. We learned the importance of using small words and avoiding jargon.
The second exercise was on thinking on our feet. We took turns responding to ordinary questions like, “What’s your favorite childhood memory?” or “What was your first car?” or “What was your first pet?” We learned that we don’t have to respond to a question instantly; it’s ok to pause and think. Silence is an attention grabber, so if you pause, it prompts the other person to perk up and listen. Also, it’s ok to say, “Let me think about that.” It communicates to your audience that you’re about to give a reasoned, well-considered response. Your credibility immediately climbs, and you’ll likely give a better answer, too.