In July of 2009 in Oxford, England, Daniel Pink opened his TED talk called “The Puzzle of Motivation” with a confession. It started like this:
“I need to make a confession at the outset here. A little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret, something that I’m not particularly proud of. Something that, in many ways, I wish no one will ever know, but here I feel kind of obliged to reveal. In the late 1980’s, in a moment of youthful indiscretion, I went to law school.”
Mr. Pink actually utilizes an entire :40 seconds of his 18 minute talk simply to set up a veil of mystery which was then followed by a creative punch line. It’s funny. It’s engaging. It’s incredibly powerful. His talk continues with some brilliant points about business and motivation including citing research from experts like:
Psychologist Karl Duncker and His Candle Problem
From his TED Talk: “So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, take a look at this. This is called the candle problem. Some of you might know it. It’s created in 1945 by a psychologist named Karl Duncker. He created this experiment that is used in many other experiments in behavioral science. And here’s how it works. Suppose I’m the experimenter. I bring you into a room. I give you a candle, some thumbtacks and some matches. And I say to you,””Your job is to attach the candle to the wall so the wax doesn’t drip onto the table.”” Now what would you do?”
Princeton Professor Sam Glucksberg and The Power of Incentives
From his TED Talk: “I want to tell you about an experiment using the candle problem, done by a scientist named Sam Glucksberg, who is now at Princeton University, US, This shows the power of incentives.”
Economist Dan Ariely and The Study of Rewards
From his TED Talk: “Let me give you an example. Let me marshal the evidence here. I’m not telling a story, I’m making a case. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, some evidence: Dan Ariely, one of the great economists of our time, he and three colleagues did a study of some MIT students. They gave these MIT students a bunch of games, games that involved creativity, and motor skills, and concentration. And the offered them, for performance, three levels of rewards: small reward, medium reward, large reward. If you do really well you get the large reward, on down.”
It’s one example after the next. As with all presentations by Daniel Pink, everything is research backed, data driven, well planned, and delivered with passion, humor, and enthusiasm. This TED talk alone is testament that he takes the process of researching, exploring, and planning with his presentations very seriously. He’s knowledgeable, scripted, and definitely well rehearsed. He has mastered the entire concept of content creation. More importantly, his obsession about research backed material lends to his solid platform and amazing credibility.
The lesson here is that your presentations can’t just be about opinion. They need to be grounded in science, research, and backed with authority. That’s how you win in front of a room.
Note: This is a modified excerpt from my book, What’s Your Presentation Persona?