How smart is your dog?


My dog has been my best audience for all the presentations I have had to prepare over the last two years. One of my big surprises when I started graduate school was how often I would be presenting to my peers.

There are many ways that people practice public speaking, and while I am very comfortable speaking to a group of kids in the classroom, speaking to a group of adults can be a little nerve wracking. I don't do well talking to a mirror because I can't help but notice a new grey hair, and I find that totally distracting! I like to imagine my younger self is giving this talk, as that gives me more confidence, so the mirror is definitely out.  I have found, however, that my dog is a very willing audience.

My dog has learned the following over the last 2 years:

  • He knows how to make a website.
  • He can define the role of a system librarian.
  • He knows all about the value of a good survey instrument to assess patron needs.
  • He knows how databases work.
  • He has listened to many proposals for new programs.
  • He has heard the justification of a collections budget.
  • He has taken a user instruction class or two.
  • He can participate in a good reference interview.
  • More than once, he has unintentionally participated in website videos using Jing and Voicethread (Just when you thought it was perfect, a dog can be heard...)
  • He also knows more about Boolean operators and federated searches than is probably appropriate for a dog.

I recently took a webinar from the Public Library Association on presentation skills. It had some great tips for what makes a good presentation because whether we like it or not, we will be presenting our ideas to colleagues, trustees, students, administrators, and other stakeholders in our libraries.  The webinar was very valuable.   My dog liked it too.


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