After several hundred years of simple talking head State of the Union addresses, the Obama team broke mold with “enhanced live-stream” of the speech, which included the president on the left, and frequent infographics, photos and tweets on the right that helped make the president’s key points. Love Obama or hate him, he just set a new bar that all speakers and presenters need to be aware of.
President Obama getting a thumb’s up from the Speaker of the House.
According to Professor Frank Walton Ph.D. from CCNY and Franklin Walton LLC, here are the standards for a “best practice” speech, as presented in an article entitled State of the Union – between Words and Images (The Talking Head is Dead) on the CompPro.biz website.
1) The speech is live-streamed (the talking head part)
2) The setting for the live-streaming has been stage-designed to include all those supportive people and tableaus (the entrepreneurs, the military veterans, the beneficiaries of government programs, etc.)
3) The split-screen format provides graphics, images, etc. which illustrate and provide visual cues and emphasis beyond what the video recording of the live event can provide.
4) The smart use of presentation graphics must exemplify the most current and tested methods for PowerPoint-category software and other presentation methodologies. When the most important points are being made by the speaker, there are no graphics: focus only on the face and voice of the speaker (making the emotional connection). The graphics never repeat exactly (but complement) the speaker. And the speaker never, never, never reads the “slides.”
5) If your audience processes information better in “bits” and “tweets” – you can provide it with a live-stream of tweets echoing the live/videoed event.
The ones that hit closest to home are 4 and 5. In my view, there are two kinds of speakers; those who think they communicate effectively with few or no slides, and those that think you can never have enough slides. Since I speak exclusively on technical topics, I’m in the latter camp–I think comprehensive slides transfer knowledge more effectively and make it easier for attendees/viewers to concentrate on what you’re saying, rather than taking notes. It also makes it easier on me, since the slides walk me through the presentation, and highlight the key bits I need to emphasize.
But important concepts should always be demonstrated graphically, whether via a picture or some other very graphical element. And in today’s social-media driven society, the more tweets you get in, the more you get noticed, and the more effectively your important points get made.
Sometimes you do need a Ph.D. to tell you what you just saw; Dr. Walton does a great job in the ComPro.biz article.