Let’s Talk Tuesdays

On Tuesdays, we watch talks and interviews with artists and discuss how to present our work clearly and with confidence.  This week we’re going to listen to industrial designer Joel Jackson talk about his Kenyan car company, Mobius Motors.

As you watch this presentation, consider these questions: Does he speak clearly and with confidence?  Does he use gestures and intonation to emphasize his points?  Does he smile and look at the audience?  What is the structure of his talk? Let’s take a look.

What does he do well? His speaking style is clear and confident, he is easy to understand, and his volume is good. His speed is good as well, and he pauses instead of using filler words. He also has good eye contact with the audience, he gestures, has good posture, and moves across the stage to keep the audience engaged. He uses professional vocabulary, and he uses images and videos very effectively to illustrate his points.

What could he improve? Although he uses intonation well, he could use more vocal variety, or inflection, to sound even more engaging. He could also smile a little. As it is, he seems very serious. Sometimes this is appropriate, but everyone likes an occasional smile. He also seems to struggle a little with humor. Adding humor to a talk can be difficult, but if done well, it is very effective.  He makes a comment at 5:14 saying that hardware is hard, meaning difficult. He pauses and laughs a little, but the audience does not. I think this was supposed to be funny, but they didn’t understand. I think if he had used intonation to make it clear that this was a play on words, he would have gotten a better response from the crowd.

Another element I want to discuss is the slides. Slides can be a very effective way to emphasize points in your talk, or they can be a terrible distraction. These slides are generally good – they are clear and easy to understand. However, they are also a little boring. Adding some color could make them more interesting. Also, the fonts they used were not consistent. Sometimes they used serif fonts, and sometimes sans serif. I think using just one font would be better, and for their type of talk, probably the sans serif is best.

Finally, I want to point out the structure of this talk. Usually, we start a presentation with some kind of hook – something to get the audience to listen. He does this by presenting a problem – the story about commuting on rugged African roads. Next, he talks about how he found a solution to this problem and started a car company. Finally, he talks about his plan for the future and his vision of how his company can change Africa. It is a good structure that helps the audience to care about the problem and inspires them to do something in the future.

What do you think about his presentation?  Do you agree with my comments?  Do you have questions about the vocabulary?  Leave a comment below!

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today.  They are in bold.  If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

To see the original page on TEDGlobal 2017, click the link below:
https://www.ted.com/talks/joel_jackson_a_vehicle_built_in_africa_for_africa

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Jessica

I help artists and designers with their English so they can focus on being creative and changing the world.

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