An Outstanding Presentation: Back to Basics with An Inconvenient Truth
Posted by Anni M.
If you’ve seen Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, you’ve seen a presentation at its best. Yes, in the aftermath of its big splash there was some debate about Gore’s facts, and while the scientific consensus is that global warming is dangerous and real, he undermined his message with exaggerations (slight but real). But barring that obvious gaffe (and we can learn from that too) he managed to present a mountain of information in a digestible, moving, package—a call-to-action that motivated hoards of people, and that still manages to invoke passion and outrage. That is the hallmark of a powerful speech, something we should all try to emulate in our own work.
So what did Gore do well? First, he had a compelling message and he communicated it with digestible facts. Let’s assume his facts were accurate. These are facts people need. They directly affect our lives. But there are a lot of facts he didn’t include. Gore picked the facts that made the most impact while omitting confusing or complex information that might detract from the overall message. He considered what the audience could absorb in a single sitting.
Second, he structured his presentation with a logical beginning, middle, and end. His pacing was steady and relentless. Facts were stated and restated to reinforce the message but he wasn’t overly repetitive. His structure was logical. While Gore’s presentation for the movie was taped (and edited) he also performed An Inconvenient Truth live. I saw him perform it and was shocked by his flawless presentation. That man was thoroughly prepared. His visuals were perfectly timed. His jokes seemed organic but were clearly carefully orchestrated. He was natural, easy, and practiced.
Third, his presentation was much more than a simple information session. It was human. He related his information to his subjects by exploring the implications of his findings on individual people. The more he focused on the individual, the more he drew me in. I left that room feeling like an evangelist, like I had to act on the information I’d just heard, and I had to do it immediately. This should be the goal of every presentation: to inspire immediate action.
Of course, Al Gore is an experienced presenter. He has spoken in front of crowds many times, and it shows. His tone, pitch, pacing, and the color in his voice were always appropriate. He had a strong stage presence, angled his body towards the audience, and controlled his facial expressions flawlessly. If you’re looking for a complete lesson in public speaking and presenting, rent An Inconvenient Truth. It’s impossible not to learn something.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..