While I work on crafting my post on the first of the Six R’s (Results), I thought I would post some video of speakers with technical or science based topics who stand out from the crowd. This post is the first one of a group.
Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school’s Center for Internet and Society. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.
Lawyers are not generally thought of as technical speakers. Lessig is different. He is one of the creators of the "Creative Commons" license and is a big open source and "free culture" advocate. I first learned of Lessig while reading the "Lessig Method" post on Garr Reynolds site "Presentation Zen". Here is a snippet from Garr -
The "Lessig Method" of presentation is not an official method per se, but many people who know about the work of Stanford law professor, Lawrence Lessig, have been inspired by his presentation style and informally refer to his approach as something unique indeed. Those who have seen Lessig present have been talking about his approach for a while. David Hornik at VentureBlog wrote a post entitled Putting the "Power" in Powerpoint over two years ago. In this post he heaps praise on the presentation style of Lessig. Hornik says Lessig’s presentations "are a fantastic combination of content, art and brand…."
Lessig does an amazing job of combining great stories and metaphors, simple visuals and a very judicious use of text in his power point slides. You cannot understand the power of his style until you hear and see it. Garr describes it -
I guarantee you there is no presentation book on the market that would recommend you use a few hundred slides, some visible for 1-2 seconds, for a 15-minute presentation. That’s crazy talk, right? Yet, it works in this particular case for this particular audience and for the particular allotted time, a short 15-minutes. This is why I never recommend a specific number of slides, or even that a presenter must use slideware at all. It depends.
Robert Ahdieh of Concurring Opinions recently had this to say about Lessig’s method -
Some time ago, however, a friend forwarded me this link, to a talk and PowerPoint presentation by Lessig, back in 2002. (Even if you’ve seen it, I’d encourage you to sample it again, as a truly amazing piece of work.) Basically, by the spare use of select words and phrases, Lessig successfully conveys both his broad themes and a substantial amount of information, in a way that even visual images – let alone line after line of PowerPoint text – could never have done. I’m confident that my absorption of the relevant ideas and material was exponentially greater than my normal (perhaps abnormally low) rate.
Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture talk at the 2002 Open Source Conference. The master of the simple slides shows us how it’s done. And since, as he says, this is his 100th time for this talk, he has this bad boy down solid. Even though this talk is from 2002, his slide presentation style is still as fresh today as Axe Body Spray.
Here is a recent presentation that Lessig gave at TED
Lessig gave a similar talk as part of the "AtGoogleTalk" series on YouTube.
If you want to see more of Lessig, here is an excellent presentation he gave a LinuxWorld.
You can find much more Lessig videos at his site.
When I have more time, I plan to do a more in depth analysis of Lessig. These videos give you an idea of the synergy of speaking, style, visuals, and structure that is possible. Lessig’smethod of presenting is very powerful and undeniably memorable. I find myself completely enthralled as I watch him present, and his message sticks in my mind. How often can you say that about a presenter talking about open source, copyright law, and content on the internet? I am working to implement more of Lessig’s style into my own presentations, in hopes my own audiences will find my talks nearly as memorable.