I might not end up with exactly the same words every time, but the concepts listed are consistent. The last time I did this, this was written on the board at the end of the class:
- Feeling like the speaker was talking to you specifically.
- Mastery of the material.
- Different perspective.
What I find interesting is that people are so reluctant to do the things as a speaker that they themselves just told me that they enjoy as an audience member.
Humour is the most obvious example. My students consistently bring it up as something good speakers do. But I’ve sat through an uncounted number of student talks without any hint of an attempt at humour.
I suppose that the reason people don’t do these things is that underlying many of the concepts on that list are risk and hard work.
You take a risk when you tell a joke. People might not laugh.
You take a risk when you try to get people to empathize. You have to expose what you think and feel.
And there are no short cuts to mastering the material or establishing credibility.
This time, a few specific talks got mentioned, including Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s conversation with Richard Dawkins on The Poetry of Science (not really a presentation in the usual sense). One person mentioned Isabelle Allende. You can see her here on TED, though I don’t think this was the particular talk the student had seen. Garr Reynolds comments on her talk here. So it’s getting easier and easier for these best presentations to spread now that online video is finally ubiquitous.
Still, many people mentioned people they knew personally; preachers or pastors came up several times this session. Good presenters are everywhere, and don’t need a million hits on YouTube to make an impression and make a difference.