Inspiring a Presentation

Posted on October 24, 2012 by


Before I get started, I just want to let people know that I’m typing one-handed with my dominant hand in a sling (so non-dominant hand is doing the work…). So please don’t start flaming if there are a couple of typos. I do try to proofread what I’m typing, but something may get through.

We recently listened to Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted talk (you can watch it here) in Age of Ex. The topic wasn’t really related to our current project; rather, we were asked to listen to his talk and observe on how he presents. And yes, his British accent is oddly appealing to most Americans. But his accent is not the only reason people are drawn to listening to him. Rather, it is the way Sir Ken “tells” stories; be it his own or someone else’s, you will find that he will make that story interesting with some subtle humor thrown in or perhaps a little mockery of someone in the story. For example, his words that “professors view their bodies as transportation for their brains” or something of the like will always stick with me. Out of context this probably seems a bit weird; even imagining it in a Morgan Freeman’s voice doesn’t quite seem right. After all, aren’t professors those people who are highly respected in our society? We shouldn’t make fun of them… right? It is at this point that I strongly encourage you guys to actually listen to Sir Ken. If you don’t have 20 minutes right now, do so later in the day. Again, link here.

So what makes Sir Ken such a good presenter? I can only offer what I think to be true, and you may disagree with me. That’s alright. It adds to a healthy discussion.

I think Sir Ken does a great job of captivating his audience. His pose (to the left) that he assumes during the entire presentation is a bit unorthodox. Typically, people who think of a great speaker think of someone who moves his or her hands around. Not so with Sir Ken – that left arm sits in pretty much the same position for 20 minutes. His speaking, though, is what really keeps people interested. I will admit, that accent does help. But I think the succinct manner in which he essentially tells the audience what he thinks is wrong in the first 5 or so minutes, but then actually elaborates on why the education system is wrong is key. Those first 5 minutes lets us know what he wants to argue to us. There is none of that long windup and then finally the moral of the story after 20 minutes. Second is that he tells stories. The 15 minutes after the brief summary, or abstract if you will, are the truly entertaining part. He makes his point through tales that are interesting – I actually want to hear all of it because the story is kind of funny (but not overly so) yet still serious enough to his point across.

In watching a 20 minute video, I think that I have learned a lot about how to get people interested in my presentation: i.e., no death by powerpoint. Hopefully this will allow me (and maybe even you!) to be more successful in the future. Who knows, maybe either you or I will be giving a talk like that someday.


“Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on” TED: Ideas worth spreading. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <;.

Along with the images whose links are shown under them.

Posted in: Presentation