Al Gore’s Masterful Presentation

From nytimes.com

Al Gore’s new movie opened in this week in Hollywood. I watched it today in a theatre at Sunset and Vine while LA County freeways throbbed with the ceaseless roar of SUV’s, convertibles, sedans and hybrid vehicles. Steeper gas prices have not put a dent in the Southern California lifestyle, any more than they’ve changed American’s driving habits in any of the other 49 states.

Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth aims to change some of these very truths that American’s hold self-evident: the inalienable rights to execute tight right turns on red in a set of wheels that gets the lowest average mileage of any nation on earth.

No matter if you voted for Gore (which the majority of us did) or for the current President (which slightly fewer did, but enough in the right parts of Florida) you owe it to your children to see this movie. It convinced me. And one of the reasons it is convincing is that Gore gives quite simply the best executive presentation I’ve ever seen.

One reason might be is that he knows his content.

He’s delivered the same presentation over 1,000 times – in most American cities and many places overseas. He has seen what works with audiences, and where he saw the need for more compelling content he created it.

One highlight of his stagecraft is when he shows how increased CO2 emissions are literally “off the chart” by ascending 20 feet above the podium on a hydraulic lift to reach the high-point on his graphic where recent increases in pollution have spiked in comparison to the 650,000 year-old records we have (core samples from the polar ice don’t lie).

Time and again a relaxed, tanned, slightly overweight Gore uses compelling images and animations onscreen to support his argument. I did not see one bullet point in the whole thing. What I did see were:

Pictures worth a thousand words

  • Photos of today’s shrunken glaciers side-by-side with the fullness of those taken 30 short years ago
  • The shrinking snows of Kilimanjaro likewise shown in stark contrast to earlier pictures of record
  • Beautifully executed animations that support the speaker but don’t distract

  • The effect on the State of Florida and Manhattan of an expected 20′ rise in sea levels
  • The ‘global conveyor belt’ of warm and cool ocean currents in precipitous balance
  • A little humor

  • Simpson-style cartoons used to debunk the corporate apologists for industrialized excess
  • Cartoon friendly frogs leaping into warm water and being happily heated to the point of boiling, until rescued (“It’s always important to rescue the frog”)
  • Simple, elegant charts with graphs that explain, not obfuscate

  • The red jagged line of annual increase and decrease in CO2 marching steadily upward since his science professor in college started measurements in the mid-60’s
  • The aforementioned chart of 650,000 years of temperature rise and fall precisely mapped to CO2
  • The graphics are simple, compelling, effective. Time and again we see Gore the road-warrior as he jets around the world delivering his speech (shades of do as I say not as I do in terms of his own beefy carbon footprint on the planet this travel schedule must have imposed – but I guess he can be forgiven given the message he carries. At all times he has his trusty Apple (whose Board is he on) laptop open, tweaking a slide or three.

    Garr points out that it’s not a “PowerPoint” presentation – he used Apple’s more elegant product, Keynote.

    Perhaps Steve Jobs the master of effective presentations schooled him. Someone did. This is not the Al Gore who used t’joke about he being the wooden one in the roomful of Secret Service agents (a joke that itself was so wooden, so scripted, as to be a parody of an effective speaker).

    Agree or disagree with Al, if you’re a professional speaker or speechwriter, ya gotta see this film.

    6 Comments so far
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    Ian, you’ve inspired me to consider seeing a film I would have otherwise overlooked! Thanks.

    […] So who’s good?  Jerry Weissman (the self-proclaimed world’s #1 presentation coach) says Guy Kawasaki is the demi-god104.  I find Guy more than a little brash/arrogant and and his mechanics and use of non-words is downright ordinary, but he always makes me think and people flock to buy his books and hear him speak.  Guy in turn highlights someone105 “as good as Steve Jobs” and gives a list of other top presenters.  But Steve Jobs ums and ahs a lot, has marginal transitions, and is stiff.  But man, can he work an audience, and they LOVE what he says!  Al Gore, Seth Godin, and Bill Cosby are often listed as well, and each has his own faults.  And each commands tens of thousands of dollars just to show up.  I can promise a lot better eye contact and a lot fewer ums and ahs, and I command considerably less than that! All this is a bit tough to swallow, because I believe with all my heart (and business!) that speaking is a skill that can be learned and the effect of the message is directly tied to how it is delivered as much as what is actually said.  And it’s even more true if you aren’t a multi-millionaire or haven’t sold 15 million copies of your book.  Those folks get a pass and a free invite to speak and make people go “Wow!”.  The rest of us have to work at it.  And work hard. Don’t try to emulate those who gain recognition on things you’ll never have.  Instead strive to deliver a compelling message in a compelling manner.   [link] […]

    […] As I noted in my review of the film, Gore’s travel schedule imposes a beefy carbon footprint, but given the urgency of his message may be justified. […]

    Do you know of anywhere that 650,000 year chart is available online?

    Milan:

    You can find a version of it here. If you want to see Al Gore’s version go to Amazon.com, choose ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Search Inside the Book’ for 650,000 and you’ll see the actual chart on pages 66,67.

    I watched the movie today on the movie network, and normally this is not my sort of thing, but I must say, I found it very compelling. It wasn’t “preachy” but informative with an element of humor and presented in a way that everyone can relate to. It was very easy to follow and understand. It made me scared that we could have been this ignorant to the problem for so long and now it is almost too late. It made me want to do what I can to help save our earth. I am going to record it the next time it is on and have my children watch it. I think that this is something that everyone should see. It was a real eye opener for me. I highly recommend the film.



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