The DVD version of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" came out recently and I finally had a chance to see it tonight. I'm not going to turn this blog into a movie review space (Short summary... Everybody on the planet needs to see this movie. Immediately.) but let's take a look at it from a presentation perspective.
First things first... This is not a PowerPoint presentation and never has been. Gore's original traveling slide show presentation was made with physical slides in a carousel projector. He then switched over to an Apple PowerBook using Apple's Keynote presentation software. And what we see in the film is a new and improved version of the road show slides... The film's production team helped "jazz up" Gore's slides, getting the original clean source graphics, adding animations, tying in video such as a clip from Matt Groening's "Futurama" and so on.
That's just background trivia though. What I want to concentrate on is Gore's presentation style and how you can take lessons for your own webinar presentations. The movie shows a presenter moving confidently through a smooth flow of evidentiary material designed to support a single clear goal (we need to take immediate actions to reduce global warming). Gore continually links the information he presents to his central concept so that the audience doesn't have to make an intuitive leap to establish connections between the material and the desired conclusion.
Gore displays an enthusiasm and passion for his subject that belies more than 1,000 presentations of the same material to audiences around the world. Trust me... The basic nature of the information he presents is now so rudimentary and self-evident in his mind that he must find it ridiculous to even have to explain it. But he conjures up the ability to sound interested in his own presentation, remembering that the things he finds the most obvious and stale from repetition are exactly the things that are most important for a new audience to grasp.
Gore also uses a nice range of subtle variations in tone and volume to keep his long monologue from turning into an exercise in hypnosis. You don't really notice it as a listener, but he constantly puts small changes into the sound of his voice to keep the audience awake and to recapture their attention as it inevitably wanders.
I should also point out the fact that Mr. Gore does not have the dulcet professional speaking voice of a James Earl Jones or Anthony Hopkins. He sounds like a regular guy from Tennessee and doesn't try for artificial profundity in his vocal pitch. It works in bringing a very serious and complex concept down to the level of a heartfelt personal communication with his audience. You can speak to your audiences in the same way... your voice is just fine.
I'll be talking in more detail about all these concepts and many more in my free webinar with Adobe this Wednesday, December 7. I'll be giving lots of tips on how to improve your online presentation skills. If you haven't registered yet, you can do so through my webinar information page: www.effectivewebinars.com