First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Thought Leaders

David Thompson / Instant Impact  / First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Thought Leaders

First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Thought Leaders

I’ve spent a lot of time working with people on their platform skills: the physical and vocal stuff that helps people look good and sound good in front of an audience.

But truth is, it’s money for old rope.

As illustrated in this brilliant piss-take of TED Talks, the tricks for looking and sounding good on stage are pretty damn simple.

Show some nice looking slides, apply a few bits of stagecraft, vary your tone and inflection a few times – BOOM, you’re a great presenter.


It doesn’t matter how slick your presentation skills are if you don’t have anything to say.

It’s not just happening at TED events. I’m seeing the same phenomenon in business meetings, investor briefings, and high-level discussions of strategy: confident, assured presenters with polish and panache lull audiences into thinking they’ve said something of substance when they’ve only blown smoke out of their ass. And audiences inhale. Deeply.

As long as the message comes in familiar and comforting packaging, we’ll probably accept it. Or at least ignore it without challenging it (which is, too often, what BSers want anyway).

As you’ll see in these parodies of British and American TV news stories, we’ve become pretty inured to content, as long as the form is what we know and like.

(Those links aren’t really safe for work, by the way).
So What’s the Point?

The sad truth is that unless you learn how to deliver your message with style, your substance will get lost.  Audiences are magpies. Your message has to be shiny shiny to get attention.

But shiny shiny on it’s own is just a polished turd.

Do the homework that allows you to match the style with substance. Know your data. Explain context. Consider several arguments. Express a point of view.  Push your audiences to DO something, not just feel something.

For a great example of an ideal combination of style and substance, check out this lecture from Professor Mark Ritson of the University of Melbourne on traditional vs. digital marketing.  The first few minutes of the video show highlights, but invest the hour and watch the whole thing.

Again, though it’s NSFW, It’s a master class in using substantive data with brilliant style to make a powerful point. Enjoy.