Monday, January 23, 2017

Beyond SUS

Many sabha-ologist have asked what comes after SUS. This is an excellent question since it implies a truth that many sabha-ologist have not really contemplated. SUS is just the starting point. (Gasp!) One of the next step in crafting a great talk is to refine what we are going to say and how we are going to say it. This will require deliberate practice which is a fancy way of saying giving lots of talks and getting lots of feedback (a sabha-ologists version of a good time). There are many excellent speakers who after their SUS write down each word they are going to say line by line to hone their presentation. Evan Puschak (the Nerdwriter) has an excellent example of crafting a message (hat tip Jarvikbhai) by deconstructing a Louis C K joke.
You know, more than anything else I think I’m obsessed with articulation, with the magic of putting things just the right way. There are 207 words in this joke and not a single one is wasted. They’re used either in meaning or in rhythm to contribute to the overall effect, an effect that lets us see the world from a different angle, and more importantly, makes us laugh.

It is this idea of articulation that SUS attempts quantify. SUS is just one of many methods to do this. We don't need SUS to make a great talk, but we need something. Using SUS is infinitely better than using nothing at all. After SUS we need to sharpen the saw. One method is to wordsmith in the manner that Louis CK does with his material - looking at every word we are about to say and evaluating if there is a more concise and impactful way of articulating our thoughts. Put another way: is there a better way to say our story to convey our simple message. We may not be able to script every word, but let's start next week by looking at one story.

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