The best talks happen when speakers have a clear storyline, speak clearly and are genuine.  Sure, we enjoy it when speakers avoid stumbling over words, speak too quietly, move around awkwardly or seem really uncomfortable.  Those are things that can be improved with a speaker coach.  What can’t be improved are genuine creativity and emotional openness.  These 5 talks from 5 very different speakers all showcase what I mean by emotional openness.

  1. David Blaine at TED Med.  So, he’s monotone, he is a little bit physically awkward at times, and he does an annoying slurping thing when he grabs water on stay (yeah don’t make slurping noises into microphones if you can avoid it).  But he’s clear and he knows his audience at TEDMed, being medical professionals, and he’s emotionally open.  He laughs when he’s funny.  He shows awesome images to illustrate his points, and he’s emotional at the end.  This talk that felt like a bit of a slow start proves to be quite fascinating by the end!  He’s also got excellent use of video (the videos have no sound and he speaks over them, letting the video highlight his points).
  2. Terry Pratchett on “Shaking Hands with Death.”  Terry Pratchett is one of the most beloved writers of all times, having penned the Discworld series that’s been on the UK Best Sellers list more than any other book series.  It’s sales have only been surpassed by Harry Potter (and yes, I’ve read them all!  Wonderful!)  Terry Pratchett also has early stage alzheimer’s disease, which has got him thinking how his most wonderfully witty brain is deteriorating, how he’s feeling about it and how it affects his mortality, specifically around how people go about deciding to die.  Because he’s an amazing writer but has trouble reading out loud, he opts to have an actor read out his talk while he reacts on the side.  It’s a wonderful illustration of his best skill (writing) and what it’s like to have alzheimer’s and have your cognitive processes slowed down.  I loved this talk and hope you do too!
  3. Eleanor Longden “The Voices in my Head.”  In this talk, Eleanor Longden talks about the onset of her schizophrenia, how others reacted, how scary it was for her and how she went about getting herself to functional.  She’s got amazing posture and delivery.  Very polished!  More importantly, she’s extremely open.  She’s a fantastic storyteller, using different voices for “the voice” she starts hearing.  Her use of detail and her thorough processes are thorough and vivid.  She’s a great example for those of you into storytelling.
  4. Louis Ferrante “Lessons from The Mafia”  This former mobster gives business strategy advice.  Yup, that’s right, he’s a business consultant now.  In this talk for The Economist’s Human Potential event in 2011, he gives some great advice to business people in general.  His former “wise guy” personality comes through.  He doesn’t temper his Brooklyn accent at all.  He’s polished, great posture, very clear as he speaks, and probably worked with a coach at some point.  His content is super clear and his intention to grow and learn is also very clear.  A great thing that he does is acknowledging the theme he’d been asked to speak about.  I was fortunate to see this talk live and can attest to his amazing eye contact and live crowd working, as well.  He did a great job of speaking for both video and for the in-person crowd. Check out this talk to get inspired to improve yourself!
  5. Mig Reyes “Backwards Advice.”  Mig is a bit geeky.  He hides behind a podium, which isn’t something I usually advice my clients to do.  He is however present, clear and most importantly he poses amazing questions.  He’s also open, humble and a bit self deprecating.  He speaks a little fast at some times and could probably breath a bit more, but he’s still very clear. He’s got a lovely dead-pan humor.  And as you’d expect from a graphic designer, his presentation is lovely to look at with a fantastic use of animated gifs.  He uses case studies well, with the right amount of very simple images.  I’m a huge fan of his sharing his past ugly designs 🙂
    Have any faves you’d like to share?