Anita Roddick: Commerce with a Conscience

“Start with quality and truth”. Dame Anita Roddick (1942 – 2007), founder of The Body Shop, was an activist and a businesswoman. Her cosmetics company helped establish ethical consumerism, being one of the first to prohibit the use of animals and to promote fair trade. She gave this talk (just under 50 minutes) at the British Library Business & IP Centre as the keynote speaker of Enterprise Week 2006 (15 November 2006).





If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Naderev Saño, the Philippines’ lead negotiator, gives a brilliant, emotional 3 minute speech at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha, on 6 November 2012. It is enormously difficult to keep your chin up as a negotiator in such a slow and tedious process. But do you always have to keep your chin up? Can’t a show of emotion move people to action and sway decisions?


Originally posted by Adam Mordecai in Upworthy.

The Boston Globe Big Picture features pictures of the typhoon known internationally as Bopha that Saño refers to.

If you know anyone who doubts the reality of anthropogenic climate change, send him or her to listen to the great presentation by Rob Dunbar (TED).

In his talk showing and explaining oceanic evidence of climate change, Dunbar said: “I was in Copenhagen in December (2009), like a number of you in this room. And I think we all found it, simultaneously, an eye-opening and a very frustrating experience. I sat in this large negotiation hall, at one point, for three or four hours, without hearing the word “oceans” one time. It really wasn’t on the radar screen. The nations that brought it up when we had the speeches of the national leaders — it tended to be the leaders of the small island states, the low-lying island states. And by this weird quirk of alphabetical order of the nations, a lot of the low-lying states, like Kiribati and Nauru, they were seated at the very end of these immensely long rows. You know, they were marginalized in the negotiation room.”

An elevator speech format

Today the PhD students and I did this exercise, among others, to prepare elevator speeches that will work with a wider audience.

Step 1: Watch the presentation by Steven Johnson on his book, Where Good Ideas Come From. Then answer:

  • How long have I been exploring this?
  • Why is it relevant?
  • What’s my approach/ perspective?
  • What are my specific questions?
  • What are my findings in general?
  • What is one example?
  • How do I explain this?
  • What story do I have for you?

Step 2: Make a speech of your own using phrases similar to his:

  • For the past…. months/years I’ve been investigating….
  • It’s the kind of/ a problem/question/issue I think….
  • I’ve looked at this problem from a/an… perspective/ the perspective of….
  • So what I’m exploring is: What are/is the …?
  • And what I’ve found, in all of these systems/ the research, there are recurring patterns;…
  • One pattern I call/ is…
  • And this is partially because/ may be due to…
  • This is particularly relevant because….
  • So you see…
  • There’s a great story about…

Elevator speeches

The above links are pdfs of my presentation and handouts from the workshop I gave at the Uni Potsdam Graduiertenkolleg Geowissenschaften yesterday and today.

This is an extremely interesting challenge for me, as these scientists are more advanced presenters than the undergraduate students I’ve normally taught, and not as versed in the world of marketing as my business clients. As a group, they give a series of short 2-minute presentations as an invitation to later visit their science posters in the exhibit area.  Key issues are how to make their points memorable, and their listeners hungry for more. This opens up a huge area for micro-storytelling (adding the personal dimension), but also for memorable catchphrases that stay safely this side of rhetoric. Work in progress, I’m looking forward to the rest of the workshop.

Susanne Frölich-Steffen (her website), a scientist now working as a communcation skills trainer in the academic world (primarily in Munich and Bavaria) gave me wonderful tips. I’m hoping we can work together in the future.

Further reading:

  • Michael Alley: The craft of scientific presentations. Critical steps to succeed and critical errors to avoid. Springer NY 2003 ISBN-0-387-95555-0
    Book homepage
  • Nancy Duarte: Slide:ology. The art and science of creating great presentations. O’Reilly 2008 ISBN-13:978-0-596-52234-6
    Nancy Duarte’s blog

The origins of acceptance speeches


Armstrong and Miller

What I’m doing with this

My business English class tonight will get this video and the “Cromagnon English” text below and use it as a scaffold (Gerüst) to give a speech on something they have accomplished with their team.
We give thanks to mighty warrior Ug, – Slayer of cave beast – (Ug! Ug! Ug!)- You make words now !
Me thank you for beast penis – It mean lot to me – But I not slay cave beast alone – Rah make strong spear- and Ugh, He make cunning trap (listige Falle) – and Scar act as bait (Köder) on mountain – (Scar! Scar! Scar!) – Sadly Scar can’t be here tonight – But most of all – Me thank wife for help and support – This not just for me – This for anyone who ever have dream – (Ug! Ug! Ug) – Me forget thank you! – You dead to me

I’m also taking Sean Penn’s acceptance speech with me, and my students will need to listen for specific “chunks” that they could use, viz “I am touched by the appreciation” “I’ve scribbled down some names” “I wanted to thank”, “my circle of support”, “and particularly” ticking them off a list that also contains a few more chunks that aren’t contained in the speech, viz. “I’d like to thank”, “for help and support”, “can’t be here tonight”, “it means alot to me”. If you want to try this out yourself, here’s the handout.