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InFocus: Great people, great projectors

Science & the importance of having a sense of wonder

Ken-mogi_head Kenichiro Mogi (茂木 健一郎) is a famous brain scientist in Japan (he's often on Japanese TV programs) and a researcher at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Tokyo. He is a best-selling author of numerous books and he is also a very popular college instructor at Keio and Waseda universities. His Ph.D. is from Tokyo University and he spent two years doing research at Cambridge University in the UK as well. He's a very smart guy. Mogi-san is also a passionate teacher and speaker, as you will see in his 10-min presentation below from TEDxTokyo.

Yes you can (be a great presenter)!

Mogi-san_darwinI often mention the presentation skills of Mogi-san and many other famous (and not so famous) Japanese professionals to my trainees in my Japanese seminars because there still exists a belief among many Japanese that making presentations in this informal, engaging "naked" style is something that Japanese people just can not — or should not — do. People in Japan love the presentation approaches of Steve Jobs and Kenichiro Mogi and others who present in a conversational, visual, and engaging style, but often they can't imagine themselves presenting in such a way—my job is to help them imagine (and then do it). While many presentations by Japanese business people and academics are dull, didactic, one-way snoozefests, more and more we are discovering wonderfully engaging presenters here Japan. It is a myth that Japanese can not be effective, engaging  presenters. In fact, there is now great interest in "presenting different" here in Japan. Mogi-san is just one example of someone here in Japan who has his own unique way of connecting and sharing. His presentation — both in form and content — has lessons for all of us. Watch his presentation in English below or here on YouTube. (You can also watch the same presentation with 日本語 interpretation.)

Ken Mogi on science, spiritual significance, and the curiosity imperative
Mogi-san says that the curiosity of a child is something we must keep always with us. We must keep our sense of wonder. Mogi-san says that his own pursuit to understand the universe began when he was a child, and the key to that pursuit was a desire to explore. Science is about exploration. "You are not satisfied with passively getting information — you like to start your own exploration," he says. Mogi-san also stresses that through science and exploration we will indeed discover answers, but those answers will lead to even more questions as we uncover even more mysteries. Exploration and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is never ending. Far from being a discouraging thing, this is a source of inspiration and wonder. "Science can explain many things that we hold to be mysteries," he says, but he also adds that science is an open-ended pursuit — no matter how much you learn about nature, he says, there are of course more mysteries. My favorite line from his talk was this:

"By forgetting how to be curious we are losing something really valuable. Because curiosity is the single most important trait that brought us here today."  —  Ken Mogi

Ken_mogi_garr   Ken-mogi-butterfly
Above left: Sharing a laugh with Mogi-san at
the TEDx rehearsal in Tokyo. Right: Mogi-san uses simple visuals and shows good form by never turning his back on the audience.

Ken-mogi_science  Mogi-san_sentence
Above left: Mogi-san sometimes displays only a single word in large type on screen. Right: At other times a key sentence may appear. Either way is quite different from the usual way of displaying lists of bulleted sentences (and then printing those up as a "handout").

Above: Using the effective technique of closing with a relevant quote, Mogi-san closes by saying that it is great that we are learning many things about nature and solving mysteries of the universe, but we also must remain humble to the fact that we still know very little compared to the "great ocean of truth before us." (This photo appears on page 169 of the the Naked book.)

In his roles as a scientist, as a researcher, as a teacher, and as a presenter—Ken Mogi is an inspiration. 科学者として、研究者として、教授として、そしてプレゼンターとして、茂木健一郎氏は素晴らしいインスピレーションだ。もっと多くの日本人が茂木さんのように効果的で聞き手を引き込む「裸のプレゼンテーション」をし始めることを期待している。
An Interview with Ken Mogi (Law of Success blog)


Pete K.

I love seeing non-western examples of great presenting. Thanks for sharing this.

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