Naked presentations in Osaka
Bullets and "delusional" briefing slides

Making a presentation in 3 minutes

Ted I am a huge fan of TED and truly appreciate their efforts to share their presentations with the rest of the world. Here are a couple of very short TED presentations (only three minutes each) which you will enjoy. Both have good content, a simple and important message, and each presenter uses visuals that evoke emotions. The presentations are not perfect; I think you could offer up several tips to each of these brilliant men that would help them the next time they do a short presentation with visuals. Still, the short presentations provide another chance to learn. Let's look first at the presentation by Richard St. John, author of Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich: Spike's Guide to Success. (The title of chapter one of the book is "My Apologies for the Title). Watch the video below or here on the TED site.

Richard St. John: Why do people succeed?

Eight  Crap
Push  Mom

Spike Richard St. John's visuals complemented his talk pretty well. The simple graphics are the same ones used in his book. The playful nature of his visuals and his delivery are consistent with the look and feel of his book as well. The single biggest thing that would have improved his presentation is the use of a small remote so that he could keep his eyes on the audience and his hands and eyes off his PowerBook. The addition of a remote is a simple thing, yet it is the one change that makes a huge difference in one's ability to free themselves from the PC and the podium and connect with the audience.

Dean Ornish: The world now eats, lives and dies like [people] in the U.S.

Ornish Dr. Ornish's talk is at its best when he highlights the growing obesity problem using the US map. This kind of visual makes people sit up in their chairs and go "wow, this really is a growing problem!" Then the next image of the "devolution of humans" really hits home. The graphic makes people laugh, but they also get the seriousness of the problem (Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying). The audience got the doctor's message: (1) Diet and life-style are the leading cause of many cardiovascular diseases, (2) the problem in the US is getting worse not better,(3) the problem is spreading to other parts of the world as they abandon traditional diets, (4) an "Asian diet" is best for preventing many kinds of diseases, yet (5) other parts of the world are becoming as unhealthy as Americans. Watch his talk below or on the TED site here. Dr. Ornish is the author of several health books like this one.

The presentation would have been even better if the bullets were broken into several different visuals. It takes no more time to have three different visuals (slides) appear in order than it does to display a single slide with three bullet points.

Slide1   Slide2
You can easily imagine how the two slides above could be visually represented better in, say, six simple (and visual) slides that augmented the doctor's spoken word.

Us    Devolution
The doctor clearly got his message across while illustrating his point visually with these simple graphics.



Hi Garr,

Have you ever heard of "pecha kucha"?


Just curious, how did you discover the Richard St. John talk? - it doesn't appear in the 2005 program or in any search. Just wondering what other gems might be hiding there

John Windsor

Thanks for sharing those, Garr!

Richard St. John's story and verbal delivery were fantastic, but, boy, was it annoying seeing him break his connection with the audience to advance his slides. You're spot on about the remote.

Dean Ornish should've just thrown out all his slides, except for the two you highlighted. That progression of obesity by state was very effective, and the evolution one was just fun. The rest he could've just SAID and people would've been with him (hey, it's only three minutes after all).

mike mcallen

If you get a chance check out Majora Carters presentation on TED.

The link to the video--

I love the way she speaks.


Wow... Majora's Speech is interesting and important but *no way* she's a good speecher. She talks fast, without breathing, looking at her laptop. Bff.. No way.


The progression through the states in Dean Ornish's talk have been greatly overused in some forums. In many health care presentations these CDC slides are commonly used to a point that they are no longer "seen" nor appreciated for the story they tell. I've come to view the use of those slides as a crutch - the presenter is not being particularly thoughtful about his work. The same way that research papers about obesity always start with the same "Obesity is an epidemic..." opening statement which reads as blah, blah, blah.


I actually went to Pecha Kucha, and it kind of sucked. There was no interaction, no conversation, just people showing slide. There's a super cool post on turning your presentations into conversations here:

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