Rules of the Road

Elaine Cogan’s main goal in How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone About (Almost) Anything YCT group coveris to help high school and college students, as well as young professionals and those who have been in the workforce for a while, organize and give great oral presentations.

This first chapter gives an overview on how to speak to any kind of group. Only four pages long, it gives specific rules and advice on how to prepare the best possible oral presentation. Her first piece of advice, which is the most important, is how to develop confidence before the presentation even begins.

Get your copy right here!

Practical Advice on Good Speaking from Elaine Cogan and How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone

We’ve said that one of the benefits of How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone About (Almost) Anything: Public Speaking for Non-Public Speakers is the very practical, down-to-earth advice that she imparts –advice that’s equally good for experienced speakers and newcomers.  Here’s a taste from a chapter titled “Antidotes for Wobbly Knees and Sweaty Palms:”

Remove any coins or keys from your pockets before you speak so you are not tempted to jingle or play with them. Likewise, unless you are using them for emphasis, avoid having a pen or pencil nearby lest you tap and distract the audience. If there is no speaker’s stand, have a table close on which to put your speech so that you can slide each page to one side unobtrusively.

Although you should have sent the host your current biographical sketch, bring along another in the likelihood t he or she has neglected to take it to the event and was planning to “wing it.” In either case, by making sure the introductory remarks say just what you want said to this particular audience, you start off on the proper note.

After you are introduced, take as much time as you need to arrange yourself and your speech comfortably at the podium. Smile in a friendly way and look around slowly at the audience. It may seem like an interminable time before all those faces come into focus, but it will most likely be only a scant second or two. Be confident you are in charge and they have nowhere to go.

Learn more and get your copy of How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone About (Almost) Anything for print, Kindle app or e-reader right here

Elaine Cogan’s How To Talk Wins Powerful Endorsement

Elaine Cogan’s new book, How to Talk To (Almost) Anyone About (Almost) Anything: Public Speaking for the Non-Public Speaker won a great endorsement recently from someone who should know — Debra Dunn, President of Synergy Resources Group.  Here’s what Debra had to say:


“If you’re professional who is tasked with making persuasive public presentations, then this book is a must have,” offered Debra Dunn, “With concise instructions and clear guidance, it showcases the breadth of Elaine’s knowledge and experience that she has gained since starting her consulting firm in the 1970s.”


Thanks to Debra for her support!  Get your copy of How To Talk to (Almost) Anyone in print, Kindle or e-reader.  YCT group cover

Just a few of the testimonials for How to Talk To (Almost) Anyone

When you get your copy of Elaine Cogan’s new book, How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone About (Almost) Anything: Public Speaking for the Non-Public Speaker, you’ll read some amazing endorsements on the back — not surprising given the legions of high-profile professionals that Elaine has taught, coached, interviewed and collaborated with over her decades of experience.

Here’s just a few:

I have been fortunate to know Elaine for nearly four decades and have always appreciated her sage counsel on how best to communicate clearly to a wide variety of people. Simply put, Elaine is a wizard when it comes to the magic of public speaking.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon



Novice or experienced speakers: we all benefit from Elaine’s succinct and valuable advice.  She’s an expert in the craft of communications.

Henry “Chip” Lazenby Jr.  Attorney, JD, MBA


For years, thousands of citizen and professional planners reading the Planning Commissioners Journal valued Elaine Cogan’s tips on how to most effectively communicate with a variety of audiences.  In How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone about (Almost) Anything, you’ll have Elaine at your side as a practical, resourceful, and reassuring guide to mastering the art of public speaking.

Wayne Senville, Editor, Planning Commissioners Journal

Get your copy of How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone About (Almost) Anything for print, Kindle app or e-reader! 


Learn to Manage the Axe-Grinders in Your Public Meetings

This post is especially relevant to two groups of you readers:

  1. People who will be at the American Planning Association Conference in Phoenix this week, and
  2. People who don’t like ugly and unproductive public meetings.

We realize that there’s probably more of you in that second category than the first. Read on for more!

Della Rucker will be presenting a Deep Dive workshop on Tuesday morning, April 5, called

Manage the Ax-Grinders: Do Better Public Participation

 This is an expanded version of a training that that draws from her years of experience running high-tension public meetings.  It’s based on a chapter in the Wise Fool book, Crowdsourcing Wisdom: A Guide to Doing Public Meetings that Actually Make Your Community Better (and won’t make people wish they hadn’t come).book cover
Here’s what Della will be doing:

This Deep Dive will cover two related topics: how to manage public meetings to defuse confrontation and enable fair participation, and how to re-organize the public participation process, when feasible, to avoid problems and create a better experience in the first place.

Both sections of the workshop will use a combination of discussion, role-playing, and analysis to highlight how different meeting management strategies change the behavior and experience of participants.  

The session will be at 9:30 and last until about noon.  Check the conference agenda for location.

If you’re not going to be there, but you think this might be useful for your organization, staff, members, or others, send Della a message at  You will never dread a public meeting quite so much ever again!

What is Wise Fool Press?

Leading or supporting deep, meaningful change in your community… well, it’s damned hard work.  Old answers don’t work, new answers are still fuzzy, colleagues and residents don’t get it, and bosses can be… well, you know.

After  years of  dinking around the edges, we know it’s time to marshal the forces to make the changes our communities need.  But to do that, we need three things:

  • Toolkits to help us do the day-to-day things better;

  • Understanding of the Trends to see where the future might be leading us,

  • and perhaps most importantly, Wisdom and bravery to undertake that hard work — and the encouragement of knowing that we are not alone.

The Wise Fool Press is designed to give you those three types of fuels — quickly, efficiently, and through the platforms that makes the best sense for you.  We bring you deep thoughts and practical tools to help you navigate, and to help your community ride the waves of change. We don’t believe in magic bullets, and we don’t believe in selling snake oil.  What  we do believe is that we need to figure out better solutions.  And that we’re  in this together.


What’s with the penguin?

You know, to be accurate, it’s a Fat Penguin Floating Majestically Over Toledo.

This little gem, drawn by illustrator Barry Gott, showed up in an early edition of the Wise Fool newsletter.  And I can’t think of a better symbol:

The Impossible becomes Possible.  It’s not necessarily graceful, and it might look downright goofy, but the Impossible becomes Possible.

And as the Wise Fool name implies, a little awareness of our own silliness probably isn’t a bad thing either.

You can check out Barry’s commercial illustration at, and his line of charming city drawings at