From last night’s standup gig:
My new sounds:
I decided to watch and review “The Apple” after it was mentioned as an episode chock-full of red shirt deaths on a super-fun episode of All Things Trek featuring the creators of The Red Shirt Diaries.
“The Apple” does not have a complicated plot, so I won’t spend a lot of time on that. Basically:
- Away team beams down to Eden-esque planet, and makes sure you know how Eden-esque it is. Chekov is excited to spend time with his gf, Yeoman Martha Landon
- Four redshirts die after being attacked by trick flowers and comically exploding rocks.
- Away team meets “primitive” people festooned in plastic but non-attacking flowers and redface makeup, finds they are worshipping papier mache high school art project monster named Vaal
- Away team finds Vaal is a computer that is keeping the people on the planet immortal but also forbidding them from love/sex
- Away team + Enterprise kill Vaal because Kirk thinks people should not live in ignorance, despite Spock’s concerns about the Prime Directive
- Kirk and McCoy joke that Spock kinda looks like Satan.
- The End
Some parts of “The Apple” work better than others. Let’s start with the others.
Awesome: “Really? I mean, as a union activist, I’m all for giving people the right to refuse unsafe work, but it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense in Starfleet.”
Inspiring speeches don’t just persuade people of a point of view; they urge the audience to action, and show them how that action will produce meaningful progress toward a better world.
Here’s an example. After I tweeted this column by the Vancouver Sun’s Daphne Bramham (“We need citizens, not just taxpayers and bookkeepers“), Ryan Merkley pointed me to this 2011 TEDx talk by former Toronto mayor David Miller.
Miller makes a compelling case for reclaiming the language of “citizen” over “taxpayer”, and he could have ended there — as a lot of TEDx talks do.
But then he asks his audience to do something: to challenge every media reference to “taxpayers” with a letter or email. He sets out a theory of change: that once enough people do that, reporters and commentators — and eventually politicians — will begin changing their language as well. And that, in turn, will help to shift the political discussion so that it focuses less on keeping taxes low, and more on the common good.
He isn’t asking his audience to take to the streets, or fundamentally alter their lives. But he isn’t just asking them to take a purely symbolic step, either. By seamlessly connecting his call to action to his argument, through a clear and coherent theory of change, Miller leaves his audience inspired and ready to do something they believe will improve their community.
Which is a pretty big part of citizenship.
Below, some very sound advice on how to keep your next speech from being derailed by a tech trainwreck.
My take? People want to hear your message. Not the piddly in-the-moment travails and frustrations that won’t amount to anything in half an hour, but your message.
You can do everything right: rehearse the presentation with the setup, have a local backup ready to run if the Internet connection didn’t work, and so on. But for whatever reason, sometimes the AV system will have none of it.
The real solution to technical glitches like this, which still happen all too often, isn’t technical. It’s much more fundamental: being prepared to abandon the technological side of the presentation, and fall back to the thing that really matters — your story, told clearly and well.
Originally posted on Key Messenger:
Recently I attended a luncheon speech by a senior executive from one of the world’s leading technology firms. I even sat next to be guest speaker. During lunch, his colleague indicated that the presentation had technological issues: the file wouldn’t speak to the laptop, which was angry at the projector from a different generation (my paraphrasing).
“Oh well”, said the speaker. Someone had to figure this out.
Being a communications trainer, I mentioned that slides and video, while wonderful, were not essential for a great talk. I joked that Martin Luther King never used PowerPoint; I had seen Margaret Thatcher in Parliament and she hadn’t relied on slides…
By the middle of the main course, the guest speaker turned to me:
“Wouldn’t it be funny if the guy from a major tech company couldn’t get the audio-visual to work?”
I said don’t worry you’ll be fine. Tell us a good…
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Filed under: Uncategorized
If we tell them the truth, tell them that truth with a story, and tell that story with pictures, our presentations will be extraordinary.
I’m a fan of Dan Roam’s. He delivered a fantastic presentation to the Nonprofit Technology Conference a few years ago (you can see my sketchnotes here). And his books The Back of the Napkin, Unfolding the Napkin and Blah Blah Blah are terrific guides to using simple pictures to do a dramatically better job of thinking and communicating.
Now his latest, Show and Tell, focuses specifically on presentations. For folks who are sick of stock-photo-laden PowerPoint decks and dense, meandering gabfests, this could be a life-saver. I can’t wait to read it.
Filed under: Presentation Design
I’ve been watching The Amazing Race reruns with the kids. I’m proud of the way they’re able to spot the often-patronizing (and that’s being charitable) attitude the show takes to the countries and cultures it encounters. It’s the ultimate whirlwind, see-the-sites, reduce-a-nation-to-a-simple-caricature vacation.
But I also enjoy the shit out of it, partly as I imagine myself conquering the challenges that trigger my own phobias (heights heights heights heights heights oh god the heights) and partly because of the chance to see people react to heavy pressure.
It isn’t the casual, tossed-off cruelty of, say, American Idol judges sneering at some poor shmuck with a dream that exceeds her or his talents. It’s character revealed under pressure, Robert McKee-style… and often revealed not just to the viewers, but to the players themselves. Moments of self-revelation are surprisingly rare in American TV, and I’ve been surprised at how many I’ve seen in TAR.
The invaluable Ian Griffin reports on a fantastic discovery by a Portland State University archivist:
a box of reel-to-reel recordings of campus speeches by figures such as LSD advocate Timothy Leary, Robert F. Kennedy speaking a few short weeks before his assassination, Nobel prize-winner Linus Pauling speaking on the effects of radioactive fallout a few months before the Cuban Missile crisis, and poet Allan Ginsberg.
And PSU has obligingly digitized them and posted them online. (I resent this just a little bit, because it costs me an excuse to go to Portland. Breakfast at Tasty n Sons, a day of listening to great speeches and an evening at Powell’s, anyone..?)
As exciting as it can be to read a great speech, they’re intended to be heard — making this find a thrilling one for speechwriters.