A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shake and Fold = just be yourself

Thanks to Jim Knight of Radical Learners for this TED video.

Mr. Knight does a great job of talking about the video so I would recommend his blog to you. What I've have been thinking about since seeing it is how genuine it is. TED conferences tend to bring out the big guns and big toys. Vice President Al Gore used a scissor lift on stage to interact with his graphs on a talk on global warming. Many of the presenters use as many computers on stages as was needed for a moon landing. One of my favorites has a scientist with backup dancers. Most TED talks are smooth-that smoothness is part of their appeal. There is something equally appealing about the unsmoothness of this presentation as well.

The speaker is Joe Smith. According to the TED talk bio on YouTube, he is a former district attorney in Oregon. The bio points out that he ran for the state's Attorney General with a campaign which accepted donations only from individuals and with a monetary cap of $100.

What I like about the presentation is its authenticity. A basin of water and paper towels. You get a sense he is a little nervous or at least a little out of his element. Mr. Smith has a sense of humor which points out that he understands that simplest ideas often sound too simple to be taken seriously. He doesn't get us all boo-hooey over the environment although that is the focus of the piece. I appreciate how simply he corrects himself when he misstates his evidence. There is even something authentically low tech about the fact that the handlers in Portland didn't tuck in his microphone cord.

I think sometimes as speakers we get enamored with technology and wowing an audience.
  • But if we don't have something to say ...
  • What if the bells and whistles get in the way of the audience hearing the your idea ...
  • What if the presenter gets swallowed up in the presentation ...
There is a great scene in the movie Hitch where one character says that a pair of shoes the dating consultant (that's Hitchens) told him to buy aren't what he would normally buy. He says:

Man : Yeah, but I don't think they're really me.

Alex 'Hitch' Hitchens : "You" is a very fluid concept right now. You bought the shoes. You look great in the shoes. That's the you I'm talking about.

As speakers, we need to sometimes try on new shoes. The 'new' technology or prop or technique can be a asset in our attempt to inform, inspire and convince. However, if, with appropriate practice, the new doesn't meld with who you authentically are, then it will more than likely get in the way of informing, inspiring and convincing.


  1. Another example (albeit from a spoken word pro) about how authentic words need no ornamentation: http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.html?source=email#.UUiEtyziTg0.email

    1. Just watched it. Wow. I aggree--Sarah Kay screams genuine.