Great Tech Speakers on Video, Part II

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Feb 15th, 2008
2008
Feb 15

While searching for additional info on Lawrence Lessig for my earlier post Great Tech Speakers on Video, I came across a a snippet on Dick Hardt as another presenter who has successfully learned and implemented the so called Lessig Method of presenting.

 

Garr Reynolds comments briefly on Dick Hardt’s style in his post on Lessig -

 

There are more videos of Lessig lecturing and presenting here. But there is even a better example available. Scott, a Presentation Zen reader, sent me a note on Monday pointing out the unique presentation style of Dick Hardt. Hardt gives credit to Lessig for inspiring the unique method he used in his presentation on Identity 2.0.
Hardt speaks for 15 minutes and synchronizes his talk quite smoothly to what must be several hundred slides. Most slides are no more than a word or two, a short quote, or a photo. Most slides are visible no more than a few seconds.
Hardt’s presentation style is not applicable to every case, of course. Often we need to go much more slowly. But for this short kind of presentation, content, and audience, it worked well. For longer presentations it would be more appropriate to change pace — sometimes moving quickly, slowing way down at other times to explain a confusing point, for example. His introduction is excellent though and is a style many people may want to experiment with to grab the attention of the audience and make an impression, and then later slowing down a bit when needed as the presentation progresses. Also, I would like to see Hardt use a remote and move away from his PowerBook.

 

I watched Hardt’s short presentation at OSCON 2005 and came away very impressed. In my years in the technology industry, I have seen dozens of presentations on identity management. I have never seen one that did a better job of explaining what identity is and is not, or a more clear explanation of the relevant technologies. I am certain I have never seen any presentation on identity management that caused me to laugh out loud several times as did this video. Watch this short presentation for yourself to understand what I mean.

 

- [googlevideo:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3972026135279683831&q=Dick+Hardt&total=20&start=10&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=3]

 

- The opening relates identity management to his real life, mixes in a bit of humor, and smoothly transitions into the crux of the problem – digital identity and authentication. The line "you are a directory entry" was very memorable for me. I also like his use of repetition, such as the riff "I am Canadian, over 21, I live here, I went to UBC and I am at sxip. I am the CEO there and I am Star Alliance Gold". He uses a visual for each part of that sentence, and does it several times to highlight the problem. He uses this to highlight the point that there is no "verified" digital identity online, and what digital identity exist is not shareable between sites today. This is a fantastic job of stepping the audience through the problem and using visuals and very spare text per slide to support the argument.

 

The KNOWHr blog picked this presentation as one of the "Top 10 Presentations Ever" (along with one by Lessig and Guy Kawasaki, whose blog pointed me to Garr Reynolds originally.

 

Dick Hardt’s Identity 2.0 presentation at OSCON 2005. Hardt’s preparation and energy sets the standard for presentation quality. He uses hundreds of slides in this 20-minute, high buzz work. Heck, I didn’t even care about virtual identity and still watched this one five or six times. It has a chance of becoming my presentation Dirty Dancing (which I’ve seen 100 times), where “nobody puts baby in the corner.”

Andrew Dlugan of "Six Minutes" wrote a very detailed review of Dick Hardt’s OSCON presentation.

 

It was unlike any presentation I had ever seen at the time. I noted that I had just been injected with information.

 

Andrew breaks down the segments of the presentation.

 

Opening “Who am I?” segment. Rather than seeming like a “let me quickly introduce myself so that I can get on with my real talk”, the introductory “Who am I?” segment is core to the presentation (after all, this is a talk about identity) and is consistent with the presentation style used throughout.

The "Who Am I?" story is a reference to the book The Story Factor by Annette Simmons. Andrew goes on to dig down into Dick’s use of humor, contrast, repetition, and analogy. The is a great review and gives a very revealing look inside this presentation.

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I found a later (and longer) version of the same talk that Dick gave at Next Web 2007. In this version, Dick uses visuals even more effectively than the OSCON version.

 

- [googlevideo:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=653754887935573346&q=Dick+Hardt&total=20&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0]

 

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As I watch these two videos, I am reminded of the Pecha Kucha method that Garr Reynolds mentions in his book, Presentation Zen. Garr blogged about Pecha Kucha as well.

The Pecha Kucha method of presentation design and delivery is very simple. You must use 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds, as you tell your story. That’s 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Slides advance automatically and when you’re done you’re done. That’s it. Sit down. The objective of these simple but tight restraints is to keep the presentations brief and focused and to give more people a chance to present in a single night. I attended my first Pecha Kucha Night in Tokyo last May and the place was packed so tight with such a buzz in the crowd that it was difficult to hear some of the presenters.
If nothing else, I think Pecha Kucha is good training and good practice. Everyone should try Pecha Kucha; it’s a good exercise for getting your story down even if you do not use the method exactly for your live talk in your work. It does not matter whether or not you can implement the Pecha Kucha "20×20 6:40" method exactly in your own company or school, but the spirit behind it and the concept of "restrictions as liberators" can be applied to most any presentation situation.

I agree completely with this point. If you can force yourself to limit yourself to six minutes and 40 seconds and use 20 slides to focus on one to two points, you will deliver a much more engaging and interesting presentation. WHile he obviously goes beyond the 20 slide limit, Hardt presentation style reminds me a great deal of pecha kucha. Both Lessig and Hardt are exceptionally engaging and interesting speakers. Their content supports their points and they combine their remarks and visuals into an interesting story.

 

The Daniel Pink video that Garr embeds in his post gives you a fantastic example of the style. I highly recommend watching. I plan on doing several posts devoted to pecha kucha in the future.

 

I have more great tech speakers lined up, and will be posting the videos and commentary soon.

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses

  1. Andrew Hill Says:

    Wow. That was very intersting, entertaining, and informative. I loved the Lessig vids, but this was even more impressive because this was a real technical topic. As much as I like Lessig, I wondered if that style would work in a real tech presentation. Wow, I am really impressed. Thanks for the links.

  2. Great Tech Speakers on Video, Part III | Public Speaking for Geeks Says:

    [...] more effective. A very interesting combination would be Steve’s engaging speaking style with Dick Hardt’s powerpoint design (inspired by [...]

  3. Public Speaking for Geeks » Blog Archive » Why I Blog Says:

    [...] Philosopher Seneca once wrote "we learn by teaching". I likely would have never have seen Dick Hardt’s Identity presentation or the videos of Steve Riley if I wasn’t writing blog posts about great tech speakers. I may [...]

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