There’s Nothing To See, Look At Me

Morgan Spurlock is a funny man. He made the classic documentary “Supersize Me”, exposing the ill effects of the fastfood industry in America. He did this by eating McDonald’s for 1 month and “supersizing” his meal whenever he was asked by the server. It made him very ill. It also made him a celebrity.

Last year he was invited to speak at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design – the website is www.ted.com) and he discussed his new movie, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which focuses on the world of advertising and media. He talked about funding a movie solely through product placements. He has a crack at the concept by turning his TED talk into The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold. He finds out it’s a much tougher sell than he thought.

During the TED talk he does various interesting technical things you probably aren’t aware of but because he does them right you don’t notice them. The main three things: he introduces concepts first by talking about them and then showing them i.e. tell & show as opposed to show & tell; he uses a word “slide” but only lets people read as fast as he talks; and he uses black blanks.

The concept of Tell & Show is very powerful. Have a look at the clip. Spurlock mentions Ebay and then shows Ebay. Next he mentions Facebook and then shows Facebook. Finally he mentions Twitter and then shows Twitter. The video follows the audio. The audience immediately can verify they understand what was just said.

Next he uses a word slide that exactly follows what he says. The audience can’t read ahead of him and he exercises maximum control over the speed by which he disseminates the information. An audience can’t read and listen at the same time, unless it’s done the way Spurlock does in this clip.

Finally, he uses black blanks. At one stage you see that the screen behind him is dark. Spurlock is telling his audience “there’s nothing to see, look at me”. He understands the most important part about presenting is not the visuals but the person delivering the talk.

Make sure that you are the most important ingredient of any talk. You can do so by starting to use the techniques described above. I guarantee your presentations will greatly improve.

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About Case

Managing Director at Black Isle Group Asia, helping executives stand out when they speak.
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