A Kick in the Head with an Icy Boot

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A distant relative once told me her granny's favorite expression was, "Smarten up or you'll get a kick in the head with an icy boot". I suspect that the expression has its origin in our shared heritage of ancestral loggers.

While out on the wet coast on my speaking tour I received just that icy boot to the head as a comment on an evaluation form. Here's what the anonymous person wrote.


"Please repeat questions posed by members of the audience"

I've been teaching adults since I became one, and I know better. I should have done better. There are two excellant reasons for repeating the questions:
First, as my audience member reminded me, because "many speak so quietly that even those with good hearing cannot hear the question".

The Second Reason is this: the teacher/lecturer/instructor needs to repeat the question, or paraphrase the question so that the speaker and learner know they are dealing with the same issue. We have all seen on TV politicians who are asked one question and answer a different one. Who wants that when you are learning genealogy?

I am embarrassed to say I earned the icy boot in the head. May I remember next time.

There is another reason for doing a bit of reflective listening, the momentary stalling tactic to make certain you understand, may give you time to think of a better response. Shooting from the lip can get you into trouble. Think before speaking. If you are a bit dense like me, stall by repeating the question first. What do you think?

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2 responses to “A Kick in the Head with an Icy Boot

  1. As a genealogy educator with hearing loss, and a mother of two teens also with hearing loss, I try to be sensitive to others who may also struggle to hear during my classes. Good speaking requires many skills, including diction and elocution. It used to be that a speech class was required in all high-school classes, but unfortunately, that is no longer so. I am appalled, not so much by the teenagers who mumble (that is to be expected, no?), as by the middle-aged people who do not enunciate (“teeth-talking”), speak in monotone, or talk to others while walking off…this is an age group that I would expect to know better. I try my best not to engage in any of these behaviors as a rule in my everyday life, but am especially cognizant of it while speaking before a group, and am always appreciative of others who do so as well.

  2. The suggestion about repeating the question and the reasons given are excellent–applicable in any public speaking situation and certainly in the genealogy field! Thanks for bringing up the subject as a great reminder to us all.

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