Knowledge

Knowledge

The trilobite and its compound eye. (A) Holotype. (B) Head region of A. (C) Fields of view. (D) Abraded part of the right eye. Arrowheads indicate the ommatidial columns. (E) Lateral view of the right eye. (F) Schematic drawing of E. (G) Two visual units (big arrows in D). (H) Schematic drawing of G. (Scale bars: A–C, 1 cm; D, 1 mm; E and F, 2 mm; and G, 200 μm.) Photo: National Academy of Sciences

Scientists discover the world’s oldest eye in a fossil found in Estonia

Scientists have discovered the world’s oldest eye in a 530-million-year-old fossil that was found in Estonia.

The fossil in question belongs to a creature known as a trilobite (schmidtiellus reetae) that lived in the Palaezoic era 541 to 251 million years ago, according to a science blog, IFLScience.com.

The discovery was made by an international team of researchers, who published their findings in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The discovered eye has some differences from modern eyes, but for the most part, it looks similar, suggesting these organs haven’t changed all that much in over 500 million years, the science blog said.

Similar to a modern bee

“This may be the earliest example of an eye that it is possible to find,” professor Brigitte Schoenemann of the University of Cologne, Germany, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Older specimens in sediment layers below this fossil contain only traces of the original animals, which were too soft to be fossilised and have disintegrated over time.”

Internal structures of the functional visual unit. (A) Ommatidium. Note the cellular elements (relicts of receptor cells) arranged radially around the central core (relict of the rhabdom). (B) Ommatidium positioned in a basket. Note the cellular elements (relicts of receptor cells) arranged radially around the central core (relict of the rhabdom). (C) General aspect of B for interpretation in D. (E) General aspect of A for interpretation in F. (G) Cross-section of the ommatidium of the extant crustacean Dulichia porrecta (Bate, 1857) (87) (Crustacea, Amphipoda) (88). (H) Schematic drawing of the elements of a typical sensory system in the aquatic compound eye in G. (I) Schematic drawing of a longitudinal section of an ommatidium. (J) Schematic drawing of the visual unit of S. reetae. b, basket; cc, crystalline cone; L, lens; om, ommatidium; p, pigment screen; r, rhabdom; sc, sensory (receptor) cells. (Scale bars: A, B, E, F, and J, 200 μm; C and D, 100 μm; and G, 1 μm.) Photo by the National Academy of Sciences

The right eye of the fossil was partly worn away, which allowed the researchers to see inside it and examine its structure and function. It was found to be a primitive form of a compound eye, made of about 100 tiny visual cells called ommatidia, similar to a modern bee, according to the science blog.

This eye of the schmidtiellus reetae also did not have a lens, perhaps because the species it belonged to did not have the parts of the shell needed for lens formation, IFLScience.com said.

How animals saw millions of years ago

The scientists also concluded that the trilobite had poor vision compared with the animals today; however, it would have been able to spot predators and obstacles.

“This exceptional fossil shows us how early animals saw the world around them hundreds of millions of years ago,” professor Euan Clarkson from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, one of the study’s co-authors, said in the statement.

The study was co-authored by the aforementioned Clarkson and Schoenemann, and an Estonian scientist, Helje Pärnaste.
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Cover: The trilobite and its compound eye. (A) Holotype. (B) Head region of A. (C) Fields of view. (D) Abraded part of the right eye. Arrowheads indicate the ommatidial columns. (E) Lateral view of the right eye. (F) Schematic drawing of E. (G) Two visual units (big arrows in D). (H) Schematic drawing of G. (Scale bars: A–C, 1 cm; D, 1 mm; E and F, 2 mm; and G, 200 μm.) Photo by the National Academy of Sciences

Seven Estonian scientists among the world’s most impactful researchers

According to the ranking compiled by Clarivate Analytics, a US-based company that owns and operates a collection of subscription-based services focused on scientific and academic research, seven Estonian scientists are among the world’s highly cited researchers.

The list, released on 15 November, identifies the most frequently cited researchers as determined by the extent to which their papers have supported, influenced, inspired and challenged other researchers around the globe. It identifies authors who have consistently won peer approval from international researchers in the form of high citation counts.

Among the most impactful researchers are Estonian scientists Tõnu Esko, Andres Metspalu and Markus Perola (originally from Finland) in the molecular biology and genetics category, Urmas Koljalg and Leho Tedersoo in the plant and animal science, and Martin Zobel in environment/ecology – all from the University of Tartu – and Ülo Niinemets from the Estonian University of Life Sciences, in the plant and animal science category.

In the ranking the scientists’ influence is assessed on the basis of how many research papers has the author consistently published and how much have the articles been cited. The more researchers use the author’s work and results in their own research, the more influential the author is.

The ranking includes a total of 3,300 scientists from 900 different institutions. The US fields the highest number of authors, at just over 1,650, while the UK is second with almost 350 entries. However, according to Clarivate Analytics, China is gaining fast. Already in the third place, the country had the highest increase of any nation, jumping to 237 authors.

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Cover: Plant scientist Leho Tedersoo (photo by Jassu Hertsmann/EPL).

The dark side of smart devices

Smart devices simplify our lives and provide us with data really quickly – all the while taking over our mind for exchange; Jaan Aru, a researcher at the University of Tartu, offers a solution.

Have you ever tried to eat ten ice creams in a row? Too much of a good thing can make you sick. Excessive amount of vitamins creates an adverse reaction in the body. Too much sun is bad for your skin. If you eat too many strawberries, it’s bad for your stomach. It’s exactly the same with smart devices. They simplify our lives and provide us with data really quickly – all the while taking over our mind for exchange.

So, what’s the problem? Well, our brains like new input. Novelty is an important learning signal for the brain, because when an organism faces something the brain couldn’t foresee (something new), it’s time to update the brain’s model of the world. The brain has a trick to make sure learning new stuff works efficiently: novel input automatically leads to a pleasure sensation. This pleasure signal enhances learning and hence ensures that the novel aspect of the world is memorised. Smart devices offer plenty of novelty so they bring lots of pleasure, too. Each move of thumb on the smart device brings new input to the screen and hence causes small pleasure signals in your brain. The trouble is that in the brain pleasure always brings the risk of addiction.

Are you addicted to your smart device? All addictions share the symptom that the object of addiction (be it heroin, gambling or smart devices) hijacks attention. So if you are in a forest in spring, or enjoying the beach, or at an important meeting or just having a fun night out, or driving the car on a busy street and you desperately feel the need to check your smart phone, you are one of us – a “smart junkie”.

Being addicted to a smart device does not seem too bad: after all, one could be addicted to worse things. Right? I am not sure. Smart device addiction has at least three serious problems:

  • people are not aware of it – everyone knows that alcohol or drugs or gambling might be addictive, but smart devices are up to now seen only in positive light (yes, that’s a key reason why I am writing this: so you, my dear reader, would become aware of the problem);
  • smart-device addicts can also be dangerous: for example, many experiments with driving simulators have shown that people reading an e-mail or a text message while driving have more (simulated) accidents. Do you believe the experiments or want to give it a try yourself?
  • kids get addicted to smart-devices – we wouldn’t even think of giving cigarettes or alcohol or drugs to our kids, but we equip them with tablets and smartphones. That’s a problem. Compared with our “old” brains, our children’s brains are much more plastic, thus much more receptive to both good and bad things packed in with smart devices. An early exposure to smart devices turns children into really dexterous users, meanwhile causing deficits in some other things that kids are supposed to become most proficient in: comprehending others and linguistic development. Both of these uniquely human features need communication and direct contact with other human beings. When you hand your child a tablet, so you could sit undisturbed, engaged with your own smart device, you’re harming your brain, but you are also messing with your kid’s brain development at a critical moment.

Simple tricks to get a hold of the problem

Don’t be too upset: I know many smart people who have this addiction, I once was a smart junkie too. At one point, I understood that I couldn’t think as sharply anymore and my attention span had decreased. Again and again my attention moved to my new smart phone: has anyone sent me an email or texted me? My phone ruled my attention, while I needed to focus on my work. The object of addiction – the smart phone – dominated my mind and my world.

This is not a story of a miraculous cure – in the case of addiction, there is nothing like that. But I’ll give you a few simple tricks that helped me to get a hold of the problem.

  • Put your smart device into your bag when at work or school. Disable the notifications that make sound. Concentrate on your work for 25 minutes, then you can watch and hug your tablet as a reward for five minutes.
  • See whether you can increase the absence from your smart phone from 25 minutes to two hours to a full day? Your brain will thank you.
  • Don’t use a smart device while driving: experiments show that it increases the chances of a traffic accident, so it would be just plainly stupid.
  • Make up some simple rules for restricting the use of smart devices at home. For example: nobody uses a smart device while eating. Make it easier to resist the temptation: nobody brings a smart device to the table.
  • Your child should receive the first smart device as late as possible. Yes, it’s easier to let the device raise them, but the brain of a small child needs input that comes from the parents.
  • Do not let your child go to bed with a smart device. Children have an even harder time to put away the gadget than us, so it would keep them engaged, reducing their sleep time. But sleep is crucial for our brains, while Facebook is not. So do the smart choice for your kids and for yourself.

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The English version was originally published by the University of Tartu blog. The cover image is illustrative.

The Hult Prize to include Estonia for the first time

The Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for social good, is for the first time also represented in Estonia.

Estonia is known worldwide for its robust technology and a growing startup ecosystem. The entrepreneurial talent pool here is immense, which gives rise to the levels of creativity and innovation in this country. After more than eight years of successful operations worldwide, in more than 100 countries and 1,000 universities, including the Ivy Leagues in America, the Hult Prize Foundation is bringing its impact engine to Estonia.

Established in 2010 by the Swedish businessman, Bertil Hult, and partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative, the annual, year-long competition crowd-sources ideas from MBA and college students, after challenging them to solve a pressing social issue. The general idea is to unlock the desire of young people to change the world through business and look for that disruptive idea that has the potential to create impact globally. In nearly a decade, the movement has mobilised more than one million young people for the cause – prompting the Time magazine to feature it among the “Top 5 ideas changing the world”.

By setting its base in the Estonian Business School (EBS) – a top tier business school in Estonia – the Hult Prize Foundation plans to expand further to different universities and campuses in the country by next year to foster the growth of startups.

A prize worth US$1,000,000

The competition at EBS is the quarterfinal round of the annual US$1,000,000 Hult Prize challenge. It gives the winning team the chance to bypass the general application round, and fast-track into one of the 15 regional rounds. One startup will be chosen from EBS to not only represent the university itself, but also the entire country at one of the regional rounds. Regional semi-final rounds of the competition will be held in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai, Toronto, Mexico City, Quito, Bogota, Melbourne, Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo, Tunisia, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on 09-11 and 16-18 March in 2018.

The top regional winners will be invited to an eight-week summer accelerator in the Hult castle in the UK, which will give them access to the top tier founders, executives and investors in the region and conduct market research in the different regions. Six startups will be chosen from this round to present their idea at the United Nations HQ in New York City in September 2018 in front of the global leaders such as the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, who announces the Hult Prize global winner each year. The general idea is to unlock the desire of young people to change the world through business and look for that disruptive idea that has the potential to create impact globally.

This year’s challenge is “Harnessing the power of energy”. The Hult Prize states that entrepreneurs who have an idea that is related to any one of the following sectors: connectivity, mobility, health, water, education and agriculture are eligible to apply for this year’s competition. Previously, the prize has been won by teams all around the world, so your team could win the Hult Prize 2017 – let’s show the world what Estonia has to offer!

Students in Estonia, who have a startup idea and a team of three-to-four members, can register on the Hult Prize website to take part in the competition and have the opportunity to win a prize worth US$1,000,000 in seed capital. The deadline to apply is 17 November 2017.

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Cover: Bill Clinton (the image is illustrative).

University of Tartu’s computer science gets international recognition

The University of Tartu is one of the two Central and Eastern European universities to enter the Times Higher Education Rankings in computer science, having been ranked among the top 250 universities in the world.

The British journal, the Times Higher Education, has compiled rankings that are considered the most reputable and influential in the world since 2004. In the computer science rankings, the first 200 are ranked individually and the rest are grouped in bands of 50. The University of Tartu was placed in the 201–250 range in the latest rankings.

In the current rankings, computer science is the University of Tartu’s highest-ranked specialisation. To compile the table, the Times Higher Education employs 13 performance indicators, which describe learning environment, research influence, volume of research, academic reputation, income, innovation and international outlook.

While the University of Tartu has been among the top 500 universities in the overall rankings for several years already, its computer science reached the subject ranking for the first time, being one of the two EU Central and Eastern European universities beside Warsaw University to have made it to the table. The top three in the rankings are Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from the US and the University of Oxford from the United Kingdom.

The high level of computer science at the University of Tartu has also gained attention elsewhere in Europe. In October, the head of its Institute of Computer Science, professor Jaak Vilo, was elected the board member of Informatics Europe, the association of institutes of computer science and IT faculties of European universities.

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Cover: University of Tartu’s main building in Tartu.

Eastern Europeans want to retire earlier than Western Europeans

The retirement age could be raised in all European Union member states, but Eastern and Western Europeans are not on the same page on this – as Estonian sociologist Ave Roots has found out.

The European Union would like to reach the point where three-quarters of all people of working age are employed by 2020. Achieving this goal would require, among other things, raising the retirement age in all member states. But are people who are approaching old age satisfied with the retirement age that has been set by the state, or would they like to begin enjoying their retirement under a palm tree at an earlier age?

In order to find out, the Estonian sociologist, Ave Roots, in cooperation with her Aalborg University (Denmark) colleague, Wouter De Tavernier, studied the 2010 European Social Survey data set. They checked the positions of EU residents in relation to retirement and their sample included 4,500 working people between the ages of 50 and 69.

The scientists discovered that a difference of opinion exists in Eastern and Western Europe regarding retirement. In Eastern Europe, people would like to retire 27 months sooner than Western Europeans. In both regions, women prefer to retire earlier than their male colleagues, but the difference is greater in the Eastern part, where women would like to retire, on average, two years earlier than men. In Western Europe, the fairer sex would like to enjoy the fruits of their pension six months sooner than the men of their region. “This may be a consequence of the fact that in Eastern European countries the official retirement age is dependent on gender,” Roots and Tavernier said.

In Eastern Europe, satisfaction with work is associated with income and also how important a person considers work to be; while in Western Europe, satisfaction with work is associated with greater well-being.

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This is a slightly edited version of an article published in the Research in Estonia portal. A longer study, “When Do People Want to Retire? The Preferred Retirement Age Gap between Eastern and Western Europe Explained”, by Ave Roots and Wouter De Tavernier, was published in the journal Studies of Transition States and Societies. Cover: Spa treatment in Estonia (the image is illustrative/courtesy of EAS).

University of Tartu is among the world’s 200 for citation impact

Estonia’s University of Tartu stands out when it comes to research quality, the publisher of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings said in its latest report.

Times Higher Education (THE), the UK-based higher education magazine, said in its World University Rankings 2018 survey that “in Eastern Europe, Estonia’s University of Tartu stands out when it comes to research quality”. The publication ranked the University of Tartu in the 301-350 band overall – same as in the 2017 report – but 168th for its citation impact. The University of Tartu “has increased both its research output and its research income”, according to THE.

The respected magazine quoted the university’s rector, Volli Kalm, who said that “reforms in Estonia in the 1990s led to the creation of a national science foundation and research council. This resulted in a change of research culture as academics had to sharpen up and compete for funding, and Tartu is now reaping the rewards.”

“The [funding] evaluation is based on publications and citations statistics, so for a quarter of a century academics have lived in a very competitive environment,” Kalm told Times Higher Education.

Estonian universities enjoy freedom

Kalm added that universities in Estonia are also more autonomous than some institutions in other European countries, pointing out that institutions have full control over their properties and complete discretion over their funding, for instance. “State regulations are rather minimal. That enabled us to establish a university development fund, which is used mainly for interdisciplinary projects or to hire new people from abroad.”

THE also cited a study of higher education autonomy in 29 European countries, which found that Estonian universities enjoyed the most freedom when it came to independence around staffing –recruitment, salaries, dismissal and promotion of staff – and academic freedom, ie admission procedures, degree programmes and quality assurance.

Founded in 1632 by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolph, the University of Tartu is the oldest and largest university in Estonia both in terms of numbers of staff and students, and the volume of its teaching, research and development activities.

The best universities in the world, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018, are the University of Oxford (UK), the University of Cambridge (UK), the California Institute of Technology (USA), Stanford University (USA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA).

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Cover: University of Tartu Physics Building.

A new English-language school opens in Tallinn

The new International School of Tallinn with close to 20 pupils from more than ten different countries starting their studies in the first year opened in the Estonian capital on 4 September.

There are two composite classes in the first year with pupils coming from a variety of countries including Estonia, South Korea, Denmark, USA, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and others.

The school, located at the Ülemiste City campus and meant for the children of expats in Estonia, will be providing education in English and based on the globally recognised International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.

The International School of Tallinn has specially invited experienced teachers from the US and the Philippines to start teaching in Estonia.

The aim of the International School of Tallinn is to provide education from primary classes until the end of upper secondary school. The new educational institution has placed a lot of emphasis on multidisciplinary integration, developing general competencies, problem solving skills and creative and science-based teaching.

The school was founded by Mainor, a private company that started as a small but influential consultancy even before Estonia regained independence in 1991, and later developed into a substantial conglomerate with almost 20 subsidiaries and interests in education, metal and wood industry, energetics and real estate. The company is also the developer behind the Ülemiste City, a modern district in the immediate vicinity of Tallinn Airport.

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Cover: A child at the International School of Tallinn (courtesy of the school.)

Estonian scientist discovers a link between education and heart disease

A team of researchers, led by an Estonian scientist, has discovered that staying in education causes less heart disease.

Taavi Tillmann from the University College London worked with a team of international researchers to make this discovery, providing the strongest evidence to date that increasing the number of years people spend in the education system may lower their risk of developing coronary heart disease by a substantial amount.

“Many studies have found that people who spend more time in education have a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease. However, this association may be due to confounding from other factors, such as diet or physical activity. To date, it has been unclear if spending more time in education has any causal impact on heart disease – in other words, whether increasing education might prevent it” the researchers said in a statement.

To better understand the nature of this association the researchers set out to test whether education is a causal factor for the development of coronary heart disease. They analysed 162 genetic variants already shown to be linked with years of schooling from 543,733 men and women, predominantly of European origin, using a technique called “mendelian randomisation”.

“Using genetic information in this way avoids some of the problems that afflict observational studies, making the results less prone to confounding from other factors, and therefore more likely to be reliable in understanding cause and effect,” the researchers said, adding that they found that how genetic randomisation with more education was associated with a lower subsequent risk of coronary heart disease.

New angle in the fight against eradicating heart disease

Nevertheless, the scientists say it is not fully understood how genetic variants cause changes to the length of time spent in education, and this could have introduced bias. “However, key strengths include the large sample size, use of genetic randomisation to minimise confounding from other factors, and results in line with those from other studies.”

“It now looks like low education could be just as important in causing heart disease as things like blood pressure and cholesterol,” Tillmann said. “For over fifty years, doctors and public health experts have made huge progress in getting people to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol. This has prevented millions of heart attacks. Our study opens up a completely new angle in the fight against eradicating heart disease: that we should think about also helping people stay in school for longer.”

The results of the study are also published in the British Medical Journal. Tillmann told Estonian World that according to his knowledge, this might be the first time an Estonian scientist was a lead author of a study published in a top medical journal.

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Listening like a speaker – speaking with meaning at conferences

Gleb Maltsev, a speaker, coach, entrepreneur and a co-founder of Fundwise, believes speakers and conference-goers can be givers rather than takers. Here’s his seven-point guide to speaking with meaning at conferences.

Conferences are boring. Not the Elon Musk kind of boring. The kind that makes you, the attendee, want to saddle a Falcon 9 rocket home to binge on the latest seasons of American Gods, Billions and Silicon Valley. That, or you could get your fix of the blue and white Facebook feed that shaves off fifty minutes of your life every day and makes a fresh data pie out of it.

Or, you could open your inbox to make sure that those two-hour-old unanswered emails remain that way, but hey, you got to feel productive. Pretty much anything other than listening to that 20-45 minute disaster one calls a keynote or its slow cousin –  the panel.

Meanwhile on the other end of the hall…

Whether a seasoned speaker with garlands of conference tags, or someone who’s just making their bones onstage, you’re likely nervous – if not downright petrified –  to have to stare back at that pool of fickle, judging eyes. You know the minutes matter because what you have to say might actually be heard. It might actually make a difference. But the eyes of the screen-struck audience don’t know it yet – and that brings us to the moneyball question.

How do you get people to pay and maintain attention, when they’ve got so little of it left?

Whose job is it anyway? Is it the organizers’, the speakers’ or is it the attendees’? Perhaps it’s the calling of the branded company puppy that will get people to linger in between talks? Woof as a Service –  deborifyng events, one furball at a time.

The short answer is an oxymoron as there are no short answers. Yes, it’ll require more of you than the seven minutes it takes to read this, which is why each title is a link to a book or an article. Think of the sections as individual training regimens for any given day. It’s a hard week, yet worth the grind. Do it.

  1. It takes Extreme Ownership. Ownership of the fact that people would rather browse, swipe and scroll instead of listening to you is because you haven’t given them a good enough reason. It’s your responsibility to get those eyes away from the screens and onto you. The worst excuses are “those who need to understand will understand”, “If I had more time…” and, my personal favourite, “I’m sorry, I didn’t…”. These and others are easy and even seductive, but they’ve got no place in the vocabulary of a speaker. Least of all one who cares.

2. Ego is the Enemy. A bigger event does not equate with a better one. Your self-worth isn’t tied to the name of your company or to the adulation of the crowd listening to you. You’re owed nothing – unless you’re a bank. Your talk isn’t about you, it’s about them – the audience and what meaning you can give them in the few minutes you have. Ask yourself what Colonel John Richard Boyd did: “To be somebody or to do something…Which way will you go?”

3. Empathy through The Gift of Therapy. As a psychiatrist with over 50 years in practice, Irvin D Yalom has written the best non-leadership book on leadership that I’ve ever read. He showed me that the speaker’s role is to be a humble guide, an example of a human work-in-progress, to ask and listen, to lead their listeners to insight with vulnerability, but to simultaneously be their fellow traveller.

4. TED Talks, bullshit walks. Consult your speech coach before using any ideas discussed within the book. Excessive reliance on it may cause over-simplification, waves of pretentiousness, elitism, intermittent clichés, utopian thinking and repeated bouts of infotainment.

5. Think, Fast and Slow. Kahneman’s old news. So are fallacies, those pesky errors in judgment, and our predictable irrationality of behaviour. Yet, the metaphor of the emotional brain that cares about the “why?”, and the logical brain of the “how?” and “what?” is apt. More than apt, it’s prescriptive to any speaker who’s seeking to inspire, to inform, or to persuade an audience.

6. Tell True Stories. Countless food-and-truth-starved writers, from Kurt Vonnegut to Nancy Duarte, have waxed lyrical about story arcs, their beautiful shapes and why we should use them. Now, they’ve been boiled down to six core narratives, using machine learning and sentiment analysis. Spoiler alert: Vonnegut wasn’t far off and neither would you be by learning how to write a short story. As a rule, get someone to listen to it before, preferably pay an editor to trim the fluff and help you clarify your message.

7. It takes Grit, Drive, and Deliberate Practice. Whatever you call it – it’s work. The kind that demands feedback, is conscious and uncomfortable. There are no quick “hacks”, unless you’re fine with being one. Thirty to ninety hours, that’s how much time you need to book in your calendar before a speaking engagement. And the true paradox of “the shorter the talk, the longer it takes to prepare it” is valid. Every time.

You’ve read the points, but whether you’re going to act on them will hinge on your ability to make them your own. It’s much like with TED talks, keynotes or pitches – whether an audience does something after hearing them depends on how well they’ll remember it. What you can do is use the mind palace technique of the ancient Greeks and Romans to memorise the seven points you’ve read just now.

Imagine Jocko, a grizzled Navy Seal wrestling with his own ego on the therapeutic couch of the venerable Irvin D Yalom, before walking onto a red TED stage. He then tells a story about a “Man in a Hole” to a tortoise and a hare, our slow and faster minds. He wants them to remember that it takes grit, drive and deliberate practice to survive and thrive on stage.

I’d like to give you a tool – a storytelling litmus test of sorts, a question to be asked of yourself at the beginning, the middle and the end of a story.

What will they remember?

It’s the kind of question that holds you accountable, no matter speaker or attendee. Have you told a story that was worth paying attention to long enough for anyone to remember it? Try asking someone who you’ve told it to. Can they recall enough to share it forward a week, a month or a year from now? Just ask, and listen. No rationalising. That’s your impact.

And so, in the last minute of this piece, I invite you to go back to a memory. A memory from an event or conference, a story that left a mark with you or your business. Who did you talk or listen to? What made them tick? Why did they do what they do? Above all, why did you remember them? Please share that story as a response below. I’d like to hear it.

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Cover image by Gleb Maltsev.

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