I was typing up some excerpts from William Carus Wilson's A Child's First Tales this afternoon, and his prose began to slowly worm its way into my once-innocent mind. Given that "listening to bad conference papers and equally bad comments" is its own genre in the academic complaint literature, I began to wonder if, perhaps, his approach was suitable for delivering admonitions on this all-important matter. Difficulty level: words of one syllable only, wherever possible, and never more than two. ("Oh! it is a sad sight" is one of WCW's favorite turns of phrase.)
TALE 1. THE BAD SPEAKER.
You will cry when you hear this tale! Sit down in this chair, and look at the front of the room. There you see a Bad Speaker. Oh! it is a sad sight! The Bad Speaker was very lazy. This is what happens to lazy Speakers! First, they wrote their paper on a plane. Could you write a paper on a plane? The plane bumped, and whooshed, and zoomed! The Speaker was sick, but still wrote. Was the paper good? What do you think? Their best friend asked, "Did you practice your paper?" The Speaker laughed! "Why would I do that?" Their best friend warned them, but the Speaker went out to party. The day of the paper, they were tired and sad, but they still had to speak. They did not have a paper copy, so had to read off a screen, but their head ached so. You could not speak that way! Why do speakers do this? They spoke, but their slides were bad and their paper was dull. People snoozed. Then the paper went on for too long. The Chair got mad! Oh! can you see the mad Chair in your mind! How they scowl! Are you scared? Not the Speaker! They kept on. At last, the Speaker stopped. They looked up, and saw that there was no-one else in the room. They were sad, and their best friend laughed at them. Then they went home. Do you think the Speaker will mend their ways? I do not.
TALE 2. BAD COMMENTS.
I told you about Bad Speakers. But others can be bad, too. This will be hard to hear, so you must sit still and not cry too hard. People say bad things to Speakers, even to good ones. It is true! There are people who talk too much. If only they knew to keep still! Then, others would not roll their eyes so hard. Some pretend to say nice things, when they want to talk about themselves. This is called "ego." It is rude! You do not want to be rude. Some are mean to Speakers. See how one Speaker looks sad, and how this one looks mad! Oh! children, do not be mean. When you speak, you want people to say good things to you, and help you think. If you are mean, people will talk about you on Twitter, and then you will be sad too. But if you are good, and say things that give Speakers new strong thoughts, then you will be liked.