Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

The Power of Words

If you have ever debated with someone who disputed the importance of choosing the right words in a speech, presentation or pep talk, show him/her this video by Purplefeather. It definitely demonstrates the power of words.

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Why Some Presentations Really Connect With You

Why Some Presentations Really Connect With You

July 9, 2009

If you ever wondered why some presentations and keynote speakers really connect with you, it’s often because they use the power of storytelling and great images (rather than bulletpoints) that help their audiences to visualize their message.

In this fascinating Ted Talk recently posted online, information designer Tom Wujec discusses why animation, graphics and illustrations are powerful ways to create meaning for audiences emotionally.

One of the key points that drives home Tom’s message is in a slide shown half way through the talk about the fact that we make meaning by seeing. If you consider that for the next time you prepare a slide deck, remember Tom’s three points:

1. Use images to help clarify what we are trying to communicate.
2. Make the images interactive so we engage more fully
3. Augment your memory by creating a visual persistence

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4 Conferences to See Great Speeches in 2009

December 29, 2008

1. In February, the annual TED Conference turns a quarter of a century old, and will be celebrating its 25th in its new digs in Long Beach, Calif. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) has apparently outgrown the Monterey Convention Center – even though the conference remains by invitation-only, and the world’s mover’s and shakers hope each year they get an invite. This year’s conference will be held Feb. 3-7. Many of its best speeches can be found at

TED’s mission is “to spread ideas that change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world.” Those who are asked to speak are challenged to give “the talk of his/her life” in 18 minutes.

In past posts, I’ve written about some that I have found most fascinating, such as those by storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy, former eBay president Jeff Skoll and Comedian Julia Sweeney. But it’s hard to keep up, because the conference organizers pull from their archives and post (not so) new ones online nearly every week. Well, they speeches are new to the public anyway.

2. Ignite Portland: If you had five minutes on stage, what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically rotated after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers. Ignite Portland 5 will be held on Feb. 19, 2009.

3. In August, ten Toastmaster International contestants from different parts of the world will compete for the title of World Champion of Public Speaking after surviving a six-month long process of six elimination rounds. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has grown to become a world leader in helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit organization has nearly 235,000 members in 11,700 local clubs in 92 countries, offering a proven way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills on a monthly, bi-monthly or evenly weekly basis.

This year’s four-day convention will be held from Aug. 12-15, in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

4. In October, Pop!Tech brings together 500 visionary thinkers in the sciences, technology, business, design, the arts, education, government and culture. It’s a three-day summit held in Camden, Maine. Famous musical conductor and renowned keynote speaker Benjamin Zander’s speech on the Art of Possibility from last year is very interesting. You can watch it here on Pop!Tech’s site or below.

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Great Storytelling is the Art of Letting Go

October 5, 2008

Children’s book author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy defines great storytelling as “the art of letting go.” That element is pertinent to any public speaker, whether you are a keynoter, CEO leading an All Hands corporate meeting or a salesperson giving a PowerPoint presentation.

Storytelling engages an audience. In fact, in Deedy’s very funny TED Conference speech about connecting with her Cuban mother, she precedes the talk by pointing out that when Lexis wants to sell you a car, it engages you by telling a story in its commercials.

As you’ll see in this video below, Deedy is a vivid storyteller. It’s not only because she’s a talented writer, but she’s also very effective in using techniques that great speakers use to add power to their speeches, such as vocal variety and energetic body language. She doesn’t just tell the story. She relives the story by breaking into character dialogue.

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Great Storytelling From the New Yorker Conference

Great Storytelling From the New Yorker Conference

July 10, 2008

New Yorker writer and bestselling author of the Tipping Point Malcom Gladwell demonstrated his brilliant storytelling talent recently at the 2008 New Yorker Conference (video). During a session titled “Stories from the Near Future,” Gladwell spoke about his upcoming book, which outlines how millions of dollars are spent to find the best job candidates and yet the system is entirely flawed in the modern world.

If you have enjoyed his books or New Yorker articles, you’ll probably find his verbal storytelling just as entertaining as his writing.

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How Steve Jobs Captivates an Audience

May 3, 2008

Communications coach and Businessweek columnist Carmine Gallo has an outstanding video on how to inspire an audience, or even a group of coworkers, like Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the master of the keynote. Gallo breaks down elements of a Jobs’ speech, and highlights techniques he uses to electrify a crowd.

Like me, Gallo’s professional roots are in journalism, In fact, Gallo contributed to one of my technology columns I was writing weekly in 2000 for the Las Vegas Business Press. At the time, Gallo hosted the Money Machine, a half-hour show on TEchTV that provided investment advice predominantly using the Internet. Gallo’s communication Web site provides a lot of great tips and videos on public speaking.

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Inspiring Speeches From the TED Archives

Inspiring Speeches From the TED Archives

April 22, 2008

Every week, the Sapling Foundation posts fresh TEDTalks on its Web site, bringing inspiration, innovation and new perspectives to the world. The talks include highlights from recent TED Conferences as well as videos from its archives dating back to 1984. (More details about the conference can be found here.)

Here are some of my favorite presentations from the TED archives:

Jeff Skoll
Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, talks about driving social change with his movie company called Participant Productions, which has produced Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, Murderball and An Inconvenient Truth.

Besides being a very captivating story, Skoll’s speech demonstrates how to use visual slides, humor and pacing.

Some interesting concepts he talks about include “closing the opportunity gap” and “betting on good people doing good things.” The latter, which is a reference to a John Gardner (“The Great Society”) quote, refers to people using business skills to solve social problems.

Richard St. John
Marketing guru Richard St. John outlines the 8 Secret to Success in a three minute speech. He grabs the audience’s attention at the start with a compelling story about a teenage girl from a poor family who wanted to “make something of her life.” She asked St. John: what leads to success?

Although St. John’s slides have too much text, he uses good humor throughout the speech.

Patrick Awuah
Patrick Awuah, who left a comfortable life in Seattle and job at Microsoft, talks about his drive to return to his native country of Ghana to educate the next generation of African leaders through a liberal arts college he co-founded.

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Speech Delivery Techniques from a former SNL Cast Member

March 2, 2008

Comedian and playwright Julia Sweeney performed a hilarious excerpt from her one-woman play, “Letting Go of God,” at the 2006 TED Conference. The video of the speech has recently been made available as part of a partnership between TED and Google Video.

Sweeney’s speech is a great example of how a speaker can make a story come alive by executing strong vocal variety, vivid facial expressions, hand gestures and dramatic pauses. Of course, what would you expect from a former cast member of Saturday Night Live?

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