Here at Big Fish, we stick by our belief that it takes studying great work in order to create great work. Without analyzing the masters of an art, it is impossible to produce work of the same caliber. So, in order to give you all a sense of work that we admire and perceive as some of the greatest, we have broken down two presentations, providing commentary and insights. Enjoy!
Ken Robinson – “Schools Kill Creativity”
0:36 – Begins with a joke
Starting the presentation with humor warms up the audience to Robinson’s presence and gets us acquainted with his style. We are slightly emotionally invested in Robinson because we can appreciate his insights as being relative to our own in some sense.
0:43 – Jumps into the three themes of the conference thus far, explaining each and providing commentary.
We have established an outline of the presentation, which has given us direction in terms of the two major concepts that we are about to explore: Education and Creativity.
3:32 – Makes another joke
A pattern has emerged that illuminates Robinson’s personality. He is lighthearted and witty. He has already captivated the audience, keeping them intrigued and laughing.
3:45 – Tells two humorous stories
Robinson’s stories are both funny and useful to the purpose of the presentation. Robinson explains that despite being wrong, the fundamental sense of confidence that children possess, which often leads to creative solutions.
6:01 – Applies this concept to the current state of education and subsequent workplace of today’s children.
Robinson has given us useful, memorable examples and applied them to a concept. This tactic of storytelling combined with humor makes the concept stick more effectively in the audience’s mind. We remember those children and the reinforcement of the concept makes the message resonate thoroughly.
6:57 – Proposes the idea of a young Shakespeare
Robinson uses this seemingly irrelevant rant to subtly keep the audience’s mind engaged with the concept. At this point, Robinson is nursing the concept, drawing the crowd in with stories and questions about various scenarios. He has expertly blended humor, concept and story into the audience’s mind, and we are truly enjoying the learning process.
7:53 – Segways into a short, personal anecdote about his son’s girlfriend
This is really the first time that Robinson strays from the central message of the presentation. Thus far, his stories have added value to his concepts, but in this section he is simply giving the audience a glimpse into his past, his experiences. By letting the audience see and hear of Robinson’s past, we are becoming increasingly invested emotionally. We can sympathize with his feelings through his commentary. We relate to him as a human being, and therefore trust his judgment as he prepares to delve into the heart of the concept.
8:43 – Shifts into an explanation of educational hierarchy
At this point, Robinson has shifted from small stories to explaining the structure of education in modern society. He is getting to the meat, so to speak, of the problem and addressing it head-on.
11:27 – Addresses the reason for the current system of education (i.e. history, thought process, etc.)
Robinson diagnoses the problem of education by attributing its misdirection to the direct need for jobs or positions in companies. Robinson is slowly etching away at the core issue, breaking it down into segments with stories and/or ideas in between points.
11:55 – “The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.”
We have now reached a slight turning point in the presentation. Robinson is not introducing concepts for a base any longer. Instead, he is using the foundation that he has created to push forward with a larger idea, a real-world application that involves speculation and requires action.
13:02 – Introduces the idea of “academic inflation” and the need to “radically re-think our view of intelligence.”
This term has risen as a result of Robinson’s theory of a revolution in education. He has explained the problems by illustrating examples. He has addressed the structure of the system. Now, he is defining a set of new ideas that are aimed specifically at said problems and structure.
13:10 – Explains the three qualities of intelligence: diverse, dynamic and distinct
Although late in the presentation, Robinson’s 3 D’s of intelligence is perfectly timed. After laying out concepts, providing anecdotes and proposing solutions, Robinson’s tactic of introducing elements of intelligence so late only reinforces, not weakens, the foundation thus far. By re-hashing, so to speak, the ideas he has presented, Robinson is able to keep the concept fresh in the audience’s mind.
*A common mistake in presentations is to push the points out up front. This leaves the audience with nothing to look forward to, but it also leaves room for the audience to forget the points. Save your most valuable information for the latter stages of your presentation to ensure it resonates.
17:54 – Wraps up the presentation with a final series of statements about reforming education for the future by using and exploring creativity in our children.
Here is the call to action, the final request by Robinson of the audience to change the way we perceive education. He has provided us with examples of students who have done remarkable things with their talents. He has given us statistics, quotes and case studies. However, the most important section of this presentation, and most all presentations, is its call to action. Without it, this would just be meaningless musings on a topic. The call to action gives meaning and strength to the message being presented, while challenging the audience to participate independent of Robinson or TED.
The structure and practices of public education are in dire need of redirection. Creativity is being stifled to make way for practical solutions to industry. This pattern cannot continue. The human mind needs imagination in order to provide solutions to world problems. Without creativity, we will be stagnant, and our practical solutions today will be irrelevant tomorrow.
Sir Ken Robinson charms the audience with short stories, inspiring concepts and bits of humor. However, he ties all of these elements together with an overarching theme of education reform through embracing creativity.
Steve Jobs – “Stanford Commencement”
:34 – :50: Jobs introduces himself as a college dropout and establishes a way to relate w/ the audience.
:50 -:54: Jobs sets a “thought roadmap” for audience by saying presentation will consist of 3 stories (Rule of 3)
:57-1:00: Explains Story Theme is “Connecting the Dots.”
1:01-2:08: Tells background of his birth to set the stage of Steve attending college.
2:09-2:11: Steve tells the audience how he dropped out of college and was looking for purpose. This is the changing point in the story and a way he can relate to college students looking to find their way.
3:30-4:41: Leads into story of how Jobs dropped into calligraphy classes. Explains how those classes affected the typography of the Mac. (Basically the purpose of the story is how college can impact your life.)
5:00-5:37: Explains meaning of story
5:39-5:42: Announces Story Theme Two is “Love & Loss”
5:43 –7:16: Explains how he loved building Apple into a 4000 employee company. But then he lost everything when Apple kicked him out. This set the stage of him coming back and how him getting kicked out of Apple was the best thing to ever happen.
7:17-8:54: Explains meaning of Story
9:06-9:08: Announces Story Theme Three is “Death”
9:10-9:18: Use quote on death to set basis of story and how it impacts Job’s view on life.
10:11-11:33: Explains how he had pancreatic cancer and came close to dying. Managed to beat cancer and see life in a different way. This sets the stage of Jobs reflecting on how he should live his life.
11:45-12:51: Explains meaning of story
13:08-13:22 – Closes speech with a conclusion story that tells you the point of the stories. “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.” Strong close with a quote.
Why this presentation succeeds:
- Used Rule of Three to give audience a “thought roadmap”
- Had a consistent structure for three main points of speech.
- State Theme of Story=> Tell Story => Explain Meaning of Story
- Detailed how going to college was integral to a Fortune 100 company’s success (creates a way to relate with the audience and they can do it too!).
So, as you can see this can be a long process, but it’s worth it in the end. After studying this, you can see how much work goes into mapping out the structure, choosing the right wording, etc. in a presentation. It takes planning and timing, as well as many other small, crucial elements to present effectively.
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