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The power of online video (and presentation) to change the world

This new talk by TED curator Chris Anderson is a great example of a naked talk given with the support of technology. This is one of my favorite talks ever, in part because of the content, and in part because of the way it was delivered. Anderson is not slick or over rehearsed, he speaks in a human voice, imperfections and all. He speaks from the heart. His embedded video and visuals help but do not get in the way. The visual amplifies his narrative and helps him take people on a little journey. Anderson states that the rise of web video created a growing worldwide phenomenon called Crowd Accelerated Innovation. 

Our brains are "exquisitely wired" for the medium of video, Anderson says. And the potential reach is enormous. "Today, one person speaking can be seen by millions." Watch the talk below or here on TED.

The rise of face-to-face communication
Toward the end of his talk, Chris speaks to the power of face-to-face communication and presentation. As he says, information often can be taken in faster by reading it. But there is a necessary depth and richness that is often missing. Part of the effectiveness of a presentation is the visual impact and the show and tell aspect of it, but there is more to it than that. "There's a lot more being transferred than just words. It is in that nonverbal portion that there's some serious magic. Somewhere hidden in the physical gestures, the vocal cadence, the facial expressions, the eye contact, the passion, and the kind of awkward British body language, the sense of how the audience are reacting.... There are hundreds of subconscious clues that go to how well you will understand and whether you are inspired."

Fine-tuned for face-to-face communication
Reading and writing are relatively recent inventions, Anderson says. "Face-to-face communication has been fine tuned by millions of years of evolution. That's what's made it into this mysterious powerful thing it is. Someone speaks, and there is resonance in all these receiving brains. [Then] the whole group acts together. This is the connective tissue of the human super organism in action. It has driven our culture for millennia." Now, print came long 500 years ago and was a challenge to the face-to-face communication largely because it scaled. Ideas could now spread far and wide. And the art of the spoken word withered on the vine, says Anderson. "But now, in the blink of an eye, the game has changed again. What Gutenberg did for writing, online video can now do for face-to-face communication."

Prezi has potential
Prezislide Prezi is a good tool when used with discretion and restraint. If not used well, the tool can quickly lead to superfluous spinning and zooming effects that are distracting. Prezi works well in non-linear presentation situations such as an interactive class where you are explaining something that is spacial and you want to be able to zoom in and out as questions arise. Yet, I think Chris Anderson shows how Prezi can be used effectively in a linear talk like this which has the feeling of a story and a journey. But what really made this talk good was Anderson's idea and the simple organization of the idea around a metaphor. The visual presentation was enhanced in video editing a bit. I would like to see simple cuts to next full-bleed image as was done in editing of this video. For example, four images displayed individually that play in succession without a transition effect between them (rather than four small images shown on one screen at the same time).These simple cuts from one full-screen image to another would be a welcomed change of pace.




Agree Garr - Chris has pinpointed and made plain something big with this and Prezi is perfect delivery vehicle for the message. This will spur a new phase of compelling communications


I think he started nervous but worked through it - he clearly had a well structured presentation to fall back on which helped.


Fascinating; thanks for pointing Chris Anderson out and sharing your insights into his presentation.

Richard Brooks

Prezi is great... Its great to see it used at TED. I used it myself last week and had really good feedback after the presentation.

I blogged about it as well...

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