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8 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parent

8 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parent

    Photo credit: Rosie O'Beirne (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    We spend so much of our lives with our parents and yet most of it is devoted to routine and commonplace things.

    But we rarely discuss the profound.

    Time is short and unfortunately we are all getting older. There may never be a better time than now to have a meaningful conversation with your parent or parents.

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    You sometimes hear people say that they regret missed opportunities while their parents were alive and that there were things they wish they had spoken about. Make sure that you seize the chance while you can.

    Here are some good questions to ask your parent or parents:

    1. Can you tell me a story about your parents or grandparents?

    Family history is much more than a family tree and a photo album. It is also a collection of stories which become your family folklore. Be sure to have some stories about your ancestors that you can pass on to your descendants.

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    2. Can you tell me a story about when you were a child?

    Stories about their adventures, hopes, fears and relationships with friends and parents can be fascinating and revealing. Why not record them on video?

    3. Can you tell me a story about me as a child?

    Your parents will remember funny or embarrassing things about you as a little child. These will be handy when one day your child asks you question 2 above.

    4. What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with me?

    Your parents have a lifetime of experience and there are still things that you can learn from them. They may share something philosophical, funny or silly. Whatever it is it can pass into the family sayings and mythology.

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    5. What thing in your life made you the happiest or the proudest?

    Let’s talk about the good things in their lives; their achievements, joys and moments of pride. You may yourself feature there.

    6. What is your biggest regret? What would you have done differently?

    Perhaps this is a sad area that you would rather not explore but sometimes the answer can be revealing and explain things about your parents that you did not realise or understand.

    7. What event had the biggest impact on you?

    Perhaps it was something to do with a war or a disaster. What was it that made a big impression?  See if you can learn exactly how they felt and reacted at the time. It might put something you had only ever read about into the personal context of your parent.

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    8. What plans should we make for the future?

    Many people feel uncomfortable talking about future plans that include what happens after their parents pass. But these are important issues and it is better to broach them. Where will they live if they can no longer manage where they are? Is there a will? What do they want to do with the heirlooms? What sort of funeral would they want?

    The next time your see your aging parents don’t just talk about minor domestic matters. Try raising some of the big questions above and then listen carefully to their answers. You may be surprised at what you learn.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

    You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

    1. Connecting them with each other

    Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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    It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

    2. Connect with their emotions

    Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

    For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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    3. Keep going back to the beginning

    Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

    On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

    4. Link to your audience’s motivation

    After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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    Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

    5. Entertain them

    While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

    Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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    6. Appeal to loyalty

    Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

    In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

    7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

    Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

    Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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