Michael Pollan Presents

PopTech 2009: Michael Pollan from PopTech on Vimeo.

For some great presentation tips check out this talk by author Michael Pollan. His topic is pretty timely given the Thanksgiving feeding frenzy we all just endured. And thanks to Duarte Design for highlighting this clip…they helped him develop the presentation and are among the best in the business at this at this stuff. They also created the graphics/materials for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth presentation.

Michael Pollan knows how to get a point across, as he has authored several best selling books. But not all authors can deliver a live presentation like he can. Like Steve Jobs, he’s mastered the skills of presenting. Study him.

SHOW THEM YOU CARE – If you can’t talk about something you feel passionate about, then don’t talk. To make an impact you have to really believe. The best advice I’ve ever heard about this point came from Jon Steel (read his book Perfect Pitch). “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

TELL A STORY – No one wants to be force fed a series of points or facts. They want to hear a story with a strong underlying theme. Facts and figures will quickly melt away, but a good theme will endure. Imagine that you’re developing a short film when working up the flow and graphical support. What would Ken Burns do?

YOU’RE THE STAR – Presentation graphics or slides are there to provide support…not be the star. You’re the star. So instead of focusing too intently on the screen (by turning back to look at each slide, or by dumping too much content on any one screen), make sure that you focus on the audience and they on you.

KILL THE BULLETS – We’ve all been beaten down by presentations that feature endless screens of bullets and copy (death by powerpoint). Your audience didn’t come to read, and you should know your material well enough to not have to read it all on the screen. Instead, focus on big, bold graphics and a minimal amount of words.

BREAK IT UP – There’s a general belief that you can only hold an audience’s attention for 10-15 minutes at a time. After that, a person’s mind begins to wander. So, good speakers add in a “break” at each 15 minute mark. Maybe it’s a video clip, or a group exercise. Ask a question of the audience or get them to participate somehow. Just break it up. Props can also help create a break. Notice what Michael Pollan does with a few glasses of oil.

REHEARSE LIKE MAD – Don’t fool yourself by thinking you can wing it. The only reason that some people make it look easy is because they practiced and practiced (in rehearsal, or by giving the same presentation many times over). Making it look easy isn’t easy.