What presenters can learn from David Katz

David Katz founded The Plastic Bank to prevent plastic from ending in the ocean. In this TED talk he explains how it works. Many TED talks nowadays lack spontaneity and are overly designed. This one is very much designed. Still, there are a couple of things to talk about for presenters.

We as presenters can learn three things from David:

  1. Have a surprising start. David starts with a very bold statement. He claims almost everybody to be wrong on a widely discussed topic — ocean plastic. This raises curiosity big time. How on earth can this guy say this in an environment like TED? We want to know.
    This stylistic device sets the bar high if done well. It can serve as an icebreaker. Or it can crush you if you deliver a weak presentation afterwards.
    Surprising can be anything that crashes the audience’s expectations. Tell a little story. Use a strange prop. Make a bold or queer statement like David.
  2. Use the structure BOW. This is how I call an arc of suspense. A bow doesn’t have to carry suspense. David introduces “Lise” early in the presentation. A woman in Haiti who became a widow after the huge earthquake. We see her on a large picture. Throughout the presentation Lise appears every now and then. Whichever angle David takes on his subject, he is sure to find a connection to Lise and shows her picture.
    Using a bow structure like this gives a kind of guidance for the audience. The repetition fosters learning and makes it clear what David wants.
    We can use the bow in a different way where it is a bit more of a suspense arc. This is when we introduce something at the beginning and come back to it only at the end.
    Whichever way we use a bow — it raises or keeps attention of our audience.
  3. Talk slowly and understandable. You can argue that David talks veeery slowly. Yes. Especially for fast speakers like myself. And that he appears to withhold himself in speed. Yes again. But I think it is right to do for this presentation for three reasons. First, you can understand David very easily. Even if your English is poor. So, he can spread his message globally. Second, speaking so slowly and making many pauses emphasize the importance of the topic for David. Third, the slow speed sets a nice contrast to the violent and fast tone of the American president who doesn’t care about the earth.
    It is rather difficult to speak slowly and not come across as strange for an audience that knows you well. In that case build in little pauses by intention. They will slow you down in a natural way.


If you desire to learn to give speeches like this one, please contact me. I will show you how to shape a clear message, inspire your audience and deliver a speech that makes people act.






Note: David Katz is not a customer of mine.