Mic Check Vol. 14: Are you smart or fake smart?
An easy test from a fan favorite super genius.
I've been thinking a lot this week about something a friend said after we endured a particularly confusing presentation together: smart people make complex ideas seem simple. People who don't really know their stuff make simple ideas complex.
(Upon further Googling to be sure I wasn't ripping off a well-known quote and attributing it to an anonymous friend, I learned that it was Albert Einstein, in fact, who said, "smart people simplify things." We can unanimously agree that he fits squarely in the "smart" category, I hope.)
Whoever coined the concept, I'm a believer. It gives a name to the great effort we put into talking circles around each other in college seminars, trying to disguise our failure to read the text with behind an illusion of complexity.
It also perfectly captures what separates great presentations from fine ones.
Presenting, after all, is about teaching. The goal of an expert presenter is to make a concept so easy to grasp that the listener does so subconsciously, and creating the means for that effortless osmosis is an art.
It turns out that ol' Al also said, "If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself." I've surprised myself with how many times this week my answer to that prompt has been "not yet"—and how much pulling on that thread has improved my communication.
What are the questions you ask yourself to determine if your presentation passes the bar?
📚 Open tabs
What team Rhetoric is reading during those awkwardly-timed few minutes between Zooms.
Speaking of making complex ideas appear simple: I come back to Zack Kanter's "What is Amazon" blog post often. The magnitude of change both Amazon and Walmart created in retail cannot be overstated, and this deep dive (sorry, it's not a quick read) is well worth your time.
Ever wondered what the most successful (or the most doomed) startups have in common? Julian Shapiro really delivers in this guide to understanding market pull.
If you haven't taken a course on Maven yet, I highly recommend checking it out: Maven has collections for founders, leaders, marketers, investors, and folks just looking to take their career to the next level. The fall releases look top-notch.
✨ New ways to present better
Here's what's going on at Rhetoric this week:
Long awaited! You can now add limited members to your workspace, who can add presentations into the workspace, but cannot see anyone else’s presentation. This is great news for venture funds who want to collect founder pitches on Rhetoric.
Have a feature idea you want to see in Rhetoric? Add it to our public roadmap!