Wiki Stage – The Video Education Revolution

March 19, 2013

In the beginning, there was Death By PowerPoint. And then there was TED, a series of conferences that managed to be entertaining and enjoyable, and showed the world that presentations can be more effective when they are short, well-prepared and intentionally interesting.

escp paris_whiteNow there is Wiki Stage, a new non-profit initiative to promote education through events and online videos, and I’m extremely honoured to be speaking at the very first Wiki Stage event, at ESCP Europe in Paris on March 30th 2013, and proud that Ideas on Stage is partnering with Wiki Stage to ensure that all the talks are top-quality, just as we have with so many TEDx events in the last three years.

Rather than explain what I think Wiki Stage is, here’s an interview I did with Johannes Bittel, founder and president of Wiki Stage, so you can hear it directly from him.

So Johannes, what is Wiki Stage?

Events and Videos – that’s what we do. We want people to have a fantastic time while learning something! By mixing experts with artists on stage and combining this with plenty of networking opportunities, we want to create a fun learning environment around a Wiki Stage. But the best way to find out is to actually experience it! We are organising the first of these events very soon, on March 30 at ESCP Europe around Internet, Jazz, Economy, Theatre…

But a great show with 6 or 12-minute talks and performances is only part of the story. The vision behind this event on March 30 is that you and me can create a new Wiki Project, a video encyclopedia, that can bring knowledge on stage and let people learn through videos.

How did you come up with the idea?

I often asked myself “Why does Wikipedia not exist in video?” Video is so powerful for delivering a message and often it would be much easier to watch a video than to read a text. Popular websites, such as YouTube, prove that the technology is already there. This could help so many people, but we don’t yet have a quality video library online.

We are a bunch of energetic volunteers, who believe that this would be a better world if knowledge was more accessible. If experts would present their insights on a stage with energy and passion, their message could reach and impact so many people. This is true especially for those among us to whom the simple act of reading a book or encyclopaedia article is not intuitive, because they may not have had the privilege of the education they deserve. This is why our dream is to bring Wikipedia on stage! If many volunteers bring remarkable people on a Wiki Stage, film them and share this knowledge in video online, then we could learn and be impacted by our experts in way more profound ways than we can with written text today.

How is Wiki Stage different from TED?

Once a year, the TED event in California gathers a group of very influential people to spread ideas on Technology, Entertainment and Design. That is very different from our vision for Wiki Stage – we want to create a stage for you! Instead of spreading ideas from a few to many, with Wiki Stage, we believe that many should share with many, and we aim to have Wiki Talks in many languages, and not just have most talks in English. You, or the experts and artists you know, have something to bring to the world – and that is why we offer the Wiki Stage to you as organiser, speaker or as a guest in the audience who wants to enjoy a great show! It is very important to us to keep the prices for Wiki Stage events at an accessible level and to make it easy for people to get a license.

You’re still a big TED fan though, right?

Yes, I’ve been watching the talks for many years now and whenever I can, I attend TED or TEDx events. Just a few weeks ago, I was at one of their events in California. I love what they do.

What is your vision for Wiki Stage?

948b14ac3c32d42df857d535cab50984 “All the world’s a stage” is a Shakespeare quote that I love. Imagine how much fun it would be if many people in universities, libraries, museums, theatres or other institutions that are dedicated to learning, art and culture would set up their own Wiki Stage. There are so many remarkable people around us and we would give them the attention they deserve to share their experiences with us and through video with everybody over the internet – I believe this could change the world.

This is a non-profit organisation. Where does the money come from?

If a public institution or a for-profit company decided that they wanted to create a video encyclopaedia, the costs for that could easily amount to millions of euros. Whoever takes on this challenge would need to pay experts, studios, cameras, editors, etc., etc. – which means that it would not be financially viable to provide the videos online for free. If, however, volunteers decide to do it not for profit, then it can work. Each event organiser covers his costs thanks to sponsors and ticket sales and everybody involved is working together in a Wiki Spirit of collaboration towards creating a video library of knowledge. The best way for you to support this project is to buy your ticket to a Wiki Stage event. And why wait? There’s your chance to experience a great show and an unforgettable afternoon on March 30 at ESCP Europe in Paris!

Apart from Wiki Stage ESCP, are there other events planned?

We are a very young project, born just a couple of months ago – yet, I am thrilled to see that students at ESSEC, Centrale, Cité Universitaire and Sorbonne are already planning to organise their own Wiki Stage events. It’s easy for people to make their own event and people are starting to contact us about this – it’s exciting! Last week I received an email from somebody in Casablanca… ;)

Get your ticket for the Wiki Stage world premiere on March 30 at WikiStage.org

Connect with Wiki Stage:

facebook.com/WikiStage

twitter.com/WikiStage

youtube.com/WikiStage

Wiki Stage ESCP Poster JPG


Tuesday Nov 6th 2012: Tweet-up with Garr Reynolds

November 4, 2012

As regular readers will be well aware, Garr Reynolds is in London this week for the Presentation Zen European Seminar 2012, and the world premiere of his new seminar, the Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass, both in association with Ideas on Stage. As in 2010 and 2011, we are extremely proud to work with Garr and bring his unique approach to presentations to a wider audience in Europe.

Garr also sees this as an opportunity to meet like-minded people, fans etc, so each year we also organize a ‘tweet-up’, which is simply a time and place where Garr’s fans can come along, buy a drink and chat with him. No tickets, no entry fee, nothing formal – just a meet-up, but organized via social media, hence the name ‘tweet-up’.

As Garr will be giving a short talk at the Apple Store in Regent Street, all about Keynote, from 6-7pm on Tuesday 6th November, we’re organizing the tweet-up just after that, and just around the corner. It will be at an eclectic place called Flat Planet, which serves drinks of course but which is famous for its excellent organic flatbreads. We’ve reserved the basement from 7.15pm to 9.00pm so please come along, get a drink and/or a flatbread, and come down to chat with Garr.

I’ll be there too of course, so if you are in the London area, come and join us, and by all means come and enjoy Garr’s talk at the Apple Store beforehand.

Address: Flat Planet, 39 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7JG (next to Liberty)

Time: Tuesday 6th November 2012, 7.15pm – 9.00pm

Here’s a link to a Google map showing the location together with the route from the Apple Store in Regent Street.


Not Just European – The 2012 Presentation Zen European Seminar

October 9, 2012

With a month to go before this year’s Presentation Zen European Seminar, we have a remarkable range of people coming to London to see Garr Reynolds and learn the new way of presenting from the master himself.

We have people coming from 16 countries (so far), including the USA, Canada and Japan, so it isn’t really a European Seminar any more! Once again, Garr is proving to be a star attraction, and I’m sure this year’s seminar is going to be as amazing as our Paris seminars in 2010 and 2011.

We’ve already sold out the Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass on November 8th, aimed mainly at those who’ve already attended the Presentation Zen Seminar, but we still have some places left for the main seminar on November 7th 2012, at the Hilton London Paddington – including some very cheap tickets for current students, with the reduction code PZSTUDENT.

So if you’d like to join us all in London, be fast because there aren’t many places left. Sign up now!


Announcing a great event in London – and it’s not the Olympics!

July 27, 2012

In 2010 and 2011, Ideas on Stage was proud to organize the Presentation Zen European Seminar in Paris. This was Garr Reynolds‘ only public seminar in Europe each year, and it brought people from ten European countries and as far afield as Seattle to learn directly from the world’s leading presentation expert.

In 2012, we’re taking the show on the road, and where better than London, the year’s most happening city? On November 7th, Garr will give his Presentation Zen European Seminar 2012, and since this sold out in 2010 and 2011, this year we’ve hired a bigger room with more space – but tickets are already selling quickly so get yours fast…

We’re also delighted to offer something new this year, especially for those who already attended Garr’s seminar in 2010 or 2011 (or the 2012 edition): the following day, on November 8th, will see the world premiere of Garr’s brand-new Presentation Zen Storytelling Masterclass. Effective slide design and powerful delivery are not enough: every great presentation is based on a mastery of the art of storytelling.

You can buy tickets for one or other seminar, or – until August 31st – you can get a combination ticket which gives you a huge 50% discount off the day 2 Storytelling Masterclass.

Don’t hesitate – reserve your place now, and if you get in quickly we’ve also negotiated some discount hotel rooms for you at the Hilton London Paddington, where both events will take place.

Direct link for more details: http://www.ideasonstage.com/presentation-zen-seminar-europe-2012-london/

I look forward to seeing you there!


Top Talk: Bob Davids at TEDxESCP

May 6, 2012

Today, I rolled my lawn. It was a heavy roller and a tough job, but with plenty of effort, I managed it.

I quickly realised that it was much easier pulling the roller than pushing it. Leading people is much the same. If you push them, you don’t really know how they are going to react. But if you inspire them to follow you, then you have a far better chance of getting them to go where you want them to go.

At TEDxESCP 2012, I had the good fortune to work with Bob Davids, a seasoned American entrepreneur and leader, who gave a talk on leadership, with the potentially controversial premise that you can’t manage people – but you can lead them.

Of all the many great speakers at TEDxESCP 2012, I perhaps worked with Bob the least – partly due to schedules and partly because it was clear from our first discussion that he didn’t need much help. (One of the most important skills of an event coach is to work out where you can make the most difference, and allocate your time accordingly.)

We did discuss one important item. It was clear that he didn’t need any slides for his talk, but I asked whether there were any props he could use. He mentioned that he liked the idea of using a chain, which he picked up from General Eisenhower, and I immediately encouraged him to use that if he could.

You’ll see why in the video below. It helps people to remember one of his key messages. (I won’t spoil the surprise – watch it and see.)

Bob is a master storyteller. He speaks slowly, calmly, deliberately, and with the voice of experience. Young people would do well to listen and learn, as younger people have a tendency to speak too quickly. With Bob, you have time to digest his words and thoughts, work out what they mean for you, relate them to your own experience, and store his wisdom.

It was a pleasure to work with Bob even for a short time, and to watch him hold the audience in the palm of his hand – and indeed I have always subscribed to his vision of egoless leadership.

Watch and enjoy. And then please tell me what you thought about his talk.


How To Make A Great TED Talk

March 12, 2012

Recently my company Ideas on Stage was privileged to coach the speakers for TEDxESCP, a fantastic TEDx event at the ESCP business school in Paris. Working with an amazingly diverse group of fine speakers, we produced a show of which I am particularly proud, and with which the students and speakers should also be extremely pleased.

Following this, I have been asked for the recipe for a great TED talk, or indeed, the magic ingredients for any conference speech.

This is not an easy question, since with the ten speakers I coached, we produced some very different talks.

We had Emmy-winning film director Anne Aghion who spoke movingly about her experiences making films in Rwanda and Antarctica, with no slides but a couple of short video clips.

We had Alexandre Marchac who gave a brilliant talk about the advances in reconstructive surgery, illustrated with many photos and a couple of videos and a ‘TED moment’ in that one of his team’s face transplant patients was actually in the room.

We had Martin Kupp, who explained how students should take control of their education using three examples, illustrated by works of art.

We had Olivier Oullier, who used few slides, but did make good use of some amusing photos which completely contradicted what he was saying, and thus making his point about how our brains think one thing while our mouths say another.

We had Laszlo Laufer, who talked about the power of zoom using a Prezi illustration (and for once, one which I actually quite liked).

And we had Isaac Getz, with whom I performed a small sketch during his talk (is that a TED first?), and who ended up by throwing toy monkeys into the audience.

I’ve not even mentioned them all, but that’s already a lot of very different talks. In fact, the event would be rather boring if we used exactly the same formula for each talk. With any presentation, you have to consider the objectives, the context and the audience, and then choose some key messages, a suitable structure and a strategy to communicate each key message.

However, there are some characteristics which these different talks all share, and after much thought I realised that they are exactly the same ones I use to teach what makes a great slide. So here are the five characteristics of a great TED talk.

SCORE - Simple, Clear, Original, Relevant, Enjoyable (©2011 Ideas on Stage)

Simple

The first is that the message needs to be simple. In 18 minutes (or less) you don’t have time to deliver anything complex, and your audience wouldn’t get it anyway. Your presentation should not be like a crossword clue, where the audience needs to spend time working out what the answer is and what they should do with it. You should be giving them the answer so the audience can use their brain-time to think about what to do with your message.

In order to be simple, you have to be very clear in your objectives and your messages. First, set your objectives by completing this simple sentence:

“After my presentation, my audience will…”

(Of course the rest of the sentence should not read “…wake up”!)

So for Isaac Getz’s talk about how to liberate your company, the objective may have read:

“After my talk, my audience will want to liberate the power of their companies and their people, and will know the three key steps to implement.”

A last point about simplicity: one thing many of the talks had in common was the number three. Three keys, three steps, three examples… three is a very good number, since we can usually remember three points but rarely many more than three. I could write a whole article about the power of three, and perhaps one day I will.

So keep your message simple.

Clear

The next characteristic is clarity. Having a simple message is not enough: it also has to be clear to the audience.

In a slide, clarity is about using text which is big enough to read, about adding text to images so their context and meaning are clear, and about removing unnecessary noise and visual pollution. In the context of the talk, clarity is about giving your talk a clear structure so it is easy for the audience to remember what you said, realise where you are, and have an idea where you are going.

It is also about repetition, because as Lewis Carroll wrote, “What I say three times is the truth”. If you say a key message once, it will be forgotten. Twice is good; three times is better (yes, the number three again). If the audience can remember your key messages and the structure of your talk, then it was clear enough. Even a simple message like “Eat more vegetables” can get lost in a mire of graphs, statistics and boring facts. Don’t let that happen.

If you’re not sure your messages are clear enough, they’re not. Don’t compromise on clarity. Your audience is not psychic, and they are not detectives. They might be smart, but even if they are as clever and perspicacious as Hercule Poirot, your talk should not be an Agatha Christie whodunnit. If the butler did it, say so clearly – ideally three times.

Original

Here is where many TED talks distinguish themselves. We can all remember Bill Gates releasing mosquitoes and Jamie Oliver tipping a wheelbarrow of sugar cubes onto the stage. Those are things that we hadn’t seen before, and they were memorable. So you should try to make your talk original in terms of the way you deliver your messages. There is no rule that says you can’t open a jar of mosquitoes to make people feel the immediacy of malaria. There is no rule that says you can’t use props. There is no rule that says you can’t bring someone else on stage to help you. In fact other than common sense and decency, there’s only one rule: don’t show the audience something they’ve seen before.

Originality is therefore partly in terms of your strategies to communicate your messages memorably, but it is also about the messages themselves. Al Gore gave fine TED talks about global warming, but that’s been done – a TED audience doesn’t want to see yet another talk about global warming, unless there’s some completely new angle to it. So if you want to talk about the reproductive habits of Andean llamas, first search on ted.com to see whether somebody’s already done that – and if so, find something different to say.

Relevant

TED audiences expect new and interesting ideas – “Ideas Worth Spreading”. Audiences at other conferences may have different expectations. A good talk is one which meets or exceeds its audience’s expectations. So for a TED or TEDx event, the message not only needs to be original and simple: it also has to be relevant to the TED audience.

A simple test for this is as follows: at the end of the talk, will anyone in the audience shrug their shoulders and say “So what?” If so, that’s not a good sign.

What you want is that your TED audience thinks at the end “I didn’t know that, and I’m glad I do now” or “I must change how I act” for example.

So your original talk about the reproductive habits of Andean llamas might in fact not be a good subject for a TED talk. If nobody yet talked about your pet subject at TED, perhaps there’s a good reason for it. If the reason is that nobody else yet knows the results of your ground-breaking research, then perhaps you’re on to a winner. If not, ask yourself whether the world really needs to know more about the mating habits of llamas.

A word here to TEDx curators: don’t choose speakers based on how good they are. Choose speakers who have something original and worthwhile to share. Coaches like me can help average speakers to formulate and deliver their great messages memorably. But the greatest coach can’t do much even with the greatest speaker if their story just isn’t worth telling.

Enjoyable

The final part is perhaps the most difficult but the most important. People do not pay good money to go to TED to be bored. They want to be entertained, and TED audiences know that if you enjoy something, then you are more attentive; and if you are more attentive, you take more in and remember more.

So you need to entertain your audience. This is partly in what you say and do, and partly in how you say and do it. This is where it is very important to ensure you have a good coach to help with both aspects.

You need to capture their attention at the beginning, and make them want to listen (for more, read my earlier post First Impressions Last). You need to keep their attention by being interesting and passionate, and by saying things in a clear and memorable way. Try to deliver at least one clearly tweetable statement every minute or two.

Use humour whenever you can (and assuming you are good at using humour – make sure it is properly rehearsed). Remember that humour is a high-risk strategy – see more here – but at TED, being humourless is also a high-risk strategy.

Be extremely careful with your slides, if you choose to use any. A long set of bullet-points in the middle of a TED event will stand out like a sore thumb, and simply signal to the audience that they can take their comfort break right away without missing anything worthwhile. SCORE applies just as much to your slides. They need to be simple and clear; original (no over-used clip-art please); relevant to what you are saying; and enjoyable, i.e. well-designed and pleasant to look at. There’s more to say about TED slides but that deserves another post – watch this space.

There’s a way to make anything interesting and enjoyable, if you look hard enough. For example, Isaac Getz’s three steps to liberate your company (1. create an environment for intrinsic equality; 2. create an environment for personal growth; 3. create an environment for self-direction) could have been delivered in an extremely boring business-school-101 manner, with a monotonous voice and no passion. But we found ways to make his talk enjoyable with stories, examples, amusing metaphors, a sketch, toy monkeys and some playing with the audience, and Isaac did a fantastic job in delivering it. I’ll use this an example in an upcoming post once the video is available.

So that’s the last part: make your talk enjoyable.

Simple, Clear, Original, Relevant, Enjoyable. If you can take a simple, original and relevant message, and deliver it in a clear, original and enjoyable way, then you will certainly SCORE with your audience.

With that, you should be well on your way to producing a fantastic TED talk. And if you happen to be speaking at any other conference, putting this into practice will make your talk stand out. And your audience will certainly thank you.


Garr Reynolds: Great keynote at the Ideas on Stage Conference 2011

December 8, 2011

We were delighted to welcome so many amazing people – participants and speakers – to the Ideas on Stage Conference 2011 a few weeks ago in Paris.

Our aim with this conference was to inspire people to transform their businesses with the power of innovation, communication and entrepreneurship. So it was partly about great presentations on those themes, but it was also about networking, bringing people together and inspiring people to have their own great ideas. Judging by the feedback, and by the many connections people made, it was a real success.

We were particularly delighted to welcome the brilliant Garr Reynolds back to Paris, and honoured to have him as the keynote Communication speaker. So it’s only right that the first talk I share from this conference is Garr’s fantastic keynote about on-ko-chi-shin or learning presentation lessons from the past.

I’ll be sharing more talks from the Ideas on Stage Conference in the coming weeks. Big thanks to the guys at present.me for cutting this together and getting this online on their great site, so we can see the slides as well as the speaker; and thanks also to Buzdig for the filming.

Enjoy!

Direct web link: http://present.me/view/3642-garr-reynolds-presentation-zen


Two Great Reasons To Come To Paris

September 14, 2011

Last year, the fantastic Garr Reynolds came to France for a one-off Presentation Zen European Seminar. It sold out well in advance, and was a rousing success. People came from nine countries, including the USA, to learn from the world’s leading presentation expert. This year, he’s back for more.

On November 14th 2011, Garr will return to Paris to deliver his only public seminar in Europe this year. Tickets are now on sale exclusively at ideasonstage.com – so don’t miss your opportunity: sign up now.

But that’s not all. We are also delighted to announce the Ideas on Stage Conference 2011, which will be held on November 15th 2011. This is the first in what we hope will be a series of top-class social conferences, bringing together amazing speakers and leading innovators, entrepreneurs and communicators for an event which will be as memorable for its networking opportunities as for the top-quality speakers.

You could think of it as a ‘TED for business’. The focus is on innovation, communication and entrepreneurship:

  • Innovation, which is the lifeblood of any business, large or small;
  • Communication, without which even the best innovations get nowhere;
  • Entrepreneurship, which is vital for transforming great innovations into profitable, sustainable businesses – as much for big firms as for start-ups.

We’ll be announcing a line-up of top-quality speakers, and social tools to facilitate networking before, during and after the event. Garr Reynolds will be one of the keynote speakers (so that gives you an idea of the quality we’re aiming for) and we have many others who will leave your minds buzzing with creative business ideas.

Places are strictly limited for this first event in November, so get in early and take advantage of special Early Bird prices (valid until October 1st). You can also buy a combined ticket for the Presentation Zen European Seminar and the Ideas on Stage 2011 Conference, and save even more.

You don’t normally need excuses to come to the beautiful city of Paris. Here are two great ones – and we hope they will convince you to come to Paris, have a great time, and take home top-class presentation skills, brilliant business ideas, useful new contacts, and happy memories – as well as those little plastic Eiffel Towers.

Sign up now and we look forward to welcoming you to Paris!


Wow! Investor Day at Le Camping

April 1, 2011

Yesterday was Investor Day for the first group of 12 start-ups at Le Camping, the Paris-based accelerator of which I am increasingly proud to be a mentor and pitch coach. And it went extremely well.

Now I’m rather biased since I coached all the speakers, so here are some comments from less biased people:

The @lecamping pitches were collectively the best I’ve seen out of an accelerator program in EU. Very slick and well prepared.

- Michael A. Jackson, experienced VC and number 3 in the Telegraph’s list of 100 most influential tech investors in Europe

We were half-expecting a poor crop of too-French startups: long-winded pitches, too much emphasis on making money and too little on product and vision, stunted ambitions, products for the French market only…

Instead what we had was the opposite: a crop of amazing startups that wouldn’t look out of place one bit in Y Combinator’s best crop or in any top VC’s portfolio.

- Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writing in Business Insider

Very positive feedback from @lecamping Investor Day from my team. Congrats to the Campers!

- ISAI, one of France’s most important early-stage investors backed by PriceMinister founder Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet

Super Travail @lecamping by #siliconsentier ! Des tres bons Management & Pitchs ! #congrats de @jainacapital

(Translation: Great work @lecamping by #siliconsentier! Great management and pitches! #congrats from @jainacapital)

- Jaina Capital, another of France’s leading investment funds, backed by Meetic founder Marc Simoncini

Overall pitch quality is excellent #lecamping and these are not native speakers – very impressed!

- David Bizer of HackFwd Talent, a leading pre-seed investment fund

All the pitches went very well, some better than in rehearsals and some perhaps not quite as well but still good enough to rock. I was particularly pleased that everyone took on board my last few pieces of advice to take their pitches from good to great – here are a few examples:

1. Adapt your content to meet your audience’s objectives.

They all nailed this. The key investor questions were all answered in each of the 8-minute pitches:

- What do you do?

- What’s the problem you solve?

- Why do you solve it better than competitors?

- What’s your vision?

- Why are you the best people to make this work?

- What are your financial forecasts?

- How much money do you need?

- What are you going to do with it?

They all finally understood the importance of talking about their team members and explaining why they were worth investing in, and they all did it very well.

2. Vision.

They also understood the importance of thinking big and showing ambition, since investors usually look for big wins not small wins. Perhaps the best example of this was Grégory from PurchEase whose ambition attracted positive tweets – here’s what Business Insider had to say about his vision:

After giving projections 2 years out, the founders said: “I could give you bulls—t 5 year financial forecasts, but I’d rather give you my vision: in 10 years, there’s gonna be a billion dollar company handling millions of customers and their purchases—we want to be that company”

That’s what we’re talking about.

3. Passion.

Now this was an area where they all made significant improvements. When Cyril Dorsaz from Beansight said he was excited about working with a great team, he sounded like he really meant it. Every single presenter had improved within their own style to a point where they were credible as leaders and as entrepreneurs.

Even though there was a world of difference in styles between the fairly restrained but professional style of Sébastien Lefebvre from Mesagraph and Philippe Langlois from P1 Security on one hand, the smooth salesmanship of Bora Kizil from Zifiz on the other, or even the cool relaxed style of Benjamin Hardy from Kawet, each of them was perfectly suited to their company and their approach, authentic, and communicated clearly and powerfully.

As a coach, I certainly don’t try to make everyone pitch in the same way, with the same style or storyboard. I just try to make them pitch as best they can in their own style, and choose a storyboard which suits their key messages. It would have been very boring if we’d seen 12 almost-identical pitches.

4. A great conclusion.

Again, they all worked hard on the conclusion, and this was one of the real strong points – the call-to-action was hardly there at all a few weeks ago, but this time it was crystal-clear. As a fine example, Bora brought the 12 pitches to a close with a very strong conclusion aimed right at the investors:

So that’s Zifiz: we’ve got a huge market opportunity, a fantastic product and a great team. The only thing missing [short dramatic pause] is you. Thankyou.

Beyond these four points, there were other great improvements though. Fabienne Rousseau from Itipic blew me away with the clarity of her speech, which improved remarkably over the last month. Clément Cazalot from docTrackr integrated a striking but fun introduction which immediately showed the problem they solve. And Benjamin from Kawet showed the greatest improvement of the lot, integrated a brilliant video to advertise what their product does, and because he had worked very hard at his pitch, he was even able to improvise a few funny remarks which the audience loved. Proof that the more you prepare, the better you are able to improvise.

And lastly, the visuals were excellent: simple, with large font sizes, a minimum of text, striking images, good example videos, and plenty of black slides. I even have to praise PrepMyFuture, who produced the best slides I have ever seen which include a comic font – yes, I advised against using it, and still would prefer a different font, but it worked well enough and they used few enough words that it didn’t really matter. Great use of images.

I haven’t mentioned everyone but they all did so well and I am honoured to be a part of Le Camping. Alice, Aaron, Omar, Shawn and the whole team did a fine job making it all run so smoothly, finishing right on time (astounding for any event in Paris, let alone one like this), and giving an extremely professional impression.

Pierre Morsa and I received many compliments afterwards from entrepreneurs and investors alike about the value Ideas on Stage had added, and while of course that’s very welcome, the real praise should go to the entrepreneurs who put in the hard work and the people at Le Camping who made it all possible. They showed the power of a great pitch, and gave themselves a real chance to get funding. And if they raised the bar for all future pitch events, that can only be good news for us.


TEDx Paris 2011 – An inside (re)view

January 19, 2011

Over a month ago, while we were preparing the speakers for last weekend’s fantastic TEDx Paris 2011, Prof Francine Leca asked us:

But why do you all do this, and for free?

As the conference drew to a close, and Prof Leca brought the audience to its 2000 feet, I wrote her a short message explaining simply:

You are the answer to your own question.

It was simply an amazing experience to be involved with so many remarkable people, speakers and organisers, who were all full of the TED spirit which is a thirst for knowledge, discovery, meaning and above all sharing. Francine Leca is an astounding lady whose charity has saved the lives of 1600 children whose hearts would not have let them live without an operation their families could not afford. She gives and keeps on giving. What could be more TED than that?

I also had the opportunity of working with many of the other speakers, some more than others, but even the little oratory tips clearly helped. One speaker stopped crossing his arms and another stopped clutching his head and umming, just in time for the big event. Judging by the many tweets, nobody found the presentations amateurish, and some even claimed that they were so polished as to be not very French. This shows how much the speakers worked at their delivery as well as their content, and some did make a huge effort.

Some did not want or need coaching. Etienne Klein speaks in public all the time, and passionately hates rehearsing, so there was no point forcing rehearsals on him – but he showed that he didn’t need any help. Catherine Vidal needed no help either, although she did take the time to rehearse with us to be sure she was hitting the right notes. Francine Leca improvised well around a defined framework, but a rehearsal would have eliminated one slight mix-up on the slides.

On the other hand, rehearsals and preparation certainly helped a number of talks. The first time I heard Etienne Parizot, I understood precisely nothing, but I gave him the idea of opening with 3D TV – something people can relate to – and suggested using a prop to explain his concept. He ended up using a different prop (a large cardboard box) which worked excellently, and while his talk was still quite hard to grasp because of the subject matter, the structure was clear and his enthusiasm transported the audience with him into his four-dimensional virtual reality.

Judging by all the comments and tweets, Etienne’s was among the more popular talks of the day, and that’s simply down to strong preparation using powerful storytelling techniques, and a very visible passion for his subject. If only more speakers showed that much passion.

Likewise, the bestselling novelist Bernard Werber was very interested in any ideas and tips to improve his talk, and it ended up being almost unrecognisable from the first draft. Most of the ideas were his, but he benefited from bouncing them off the team members and integrating our suggestions in some cases, and while like most people he didn’t enjoy rehearsing, he realised how much it was helping him to improve his talk. Again, a little more rehearsing might have helped, but overall he did a fine job especially considering he’s not a regular public speaker.

Bernard was another person I felt honoured to work with, and we ended up talking about writing and communicating. It turns out that his method for constructing novels is very similar to the Ideas on Stage method for creating presentations, and he gave me all sorts of writing advice. It is often said that you get out of something what you put into it. I put plenty into TEDx Paris this year, but boy did I get a lot out of it.

In terms of the slides I created for the speakers, my greatest satisfaction was with those for the renowned journalist and editor Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber. They were clear, simple and attractive, with relevant images, and it was easy for Jean-Louis to handle them and talk to them. We had worked them carefully to have only a small amount of text on each slide, just the key messages, and it was wonderful to see that all those key messages were tweeted and retweeted verbatim.

My overall impression of this edition of TEDx Paris was strongly positive. Of a huge number of tweets, very few were in any way negative, and while different people seemed to appreciate different talks, that’s fine – there was something for everyone, and a whole bunch of fantastic ideas and approaches to take away and share.

The music (from Irma and Djazia, as well as Jacques Dupriez) was excellent, the line-up of speakers was remarkable, and the organisation was top-class (note: I coached speakers and helped with slides, that’s all, so I’m crediting Michel, Sylvain, Xavier and their team and not myself). All in all, an extremely memorable event. TEDx Paris is now an event to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait for the 2012 edition.

We all left the theatre buzzing with ideas, full of energy and motivation, and determined to do something, anything, to share that energy and make the world a better place. That is what TED is all about. As Bernard Werber said at the end of his talk, “Everything good that will happen to our children will be conceived by somebody who’s alive today. Maybe one of you.” Now there’s a call to action…

Photo credits to Olivier Ezratty – his excellent gallery is here.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,357 other followers

%d bloggers like this: