April 19, 2013

Forget perfection: Strive for connection.



"The adults of the last four generations have blessed our children with the destiny of a shorter life span than their own parents."

TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver has this wish:

"I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity." Watch his video to see how he envisions this happening (my comments are below).



(If the video isn't showing up, go to this link.)

Jamie Oliver is a perfect example of an imperfect yet moving and memorable speaker. He paces around the stage, out of breath and talking at the speed of light, but his message is clear and powerful.

His examples are relevant: He shows a graph of causes of death in the United States and says, "We spend our lives being paranoid about death, murder, homicide -- you name it, it's on the front page of every paper, CNN. Look at homicide at the bottom, for God's sake." The first three causes of death on the chart are all diet-related.

He balances grim facts and statistics with humor and a touch of sarcasm: "School food is something that most kids -- 31 million a day, actually -- have twice a day more than often, breakfast and lunch, 190 days of the year. So you could say that school food is quite important, really, judging the circumstances." He gets a laugh from the audience.

He offers practical solutions: "Under the circumstances, it's profoundly important that every single American child leave school knowing how to cook ten recipes that will save their life.... If you can cook, recession money doesn't matter. If you can cook, time doesn't matter."

His graphics, video clips (children who don't recognize tomatoes, potatoes or cauliflower; a mom who believes she's killing her children with food) and images are chosen wisely. He even interacts with the audience, asking for a show of hands -- I rarely see anyone do this at TED. He's passionate, persuasive and driven. You can't help but want to see his vision come true. You can't help but want to jump on board, somehow.

Isn't this really what matters in a speaker? Isn't this the kind of presentation an audience really wants to spend time listening to? Isn't this the kind of presentation that makes an impact on a person and inspires change?

I'm so tired of the um-obsessed, gesture-memorizing, rule-based culture of speaking. I'll take an exuberant speaker with a compelling message whose skills and techniques are rough over a rehearsed-to-death speaker any day.

Maybe I'm in the minority, and maybe not for long.

2 comments. Please add yours! :

Peter Billingham said...

Cheers for a Union Jack waving Brit! Jamie Oliver is a regular here in UK on TV and as you say, an imperfect but memorable speaker - and I suppose thats what matters most. His style is his. You couldn't and shouldn't try to imitate (many people try the "jack the lad. cockney" style and it doesn't work, why? It's not authentic. And that's what thunders through from his speeches. His is passionate about the subject, an overriding requirement when speaking. Excellent example of substance over style. Key learning point for me - speak from the heart whenever you can. Thanks for sharing.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks, Peter. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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