A natural presenter: Chris Glass, graphic designer

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I’m taking a good course in Public Speaking on Coursera, recommended by Edward Tanguay (thank you!).
Looking for presentations to comment on for this course, and for examples to show in a presentation seminar I’m giving on Friday, I’ve been watching countless ones and stumbled across Chris Glass, graphic designer.

I really like the naturalness of Chris Glass’s presentation. Listening to him is pleasant because everything about him his congruent, from his beard and hat and relaxed clothes to the awesome slides he creates. There’s a very nice interview with him on The Great Discontent that matches the presentation in all aspects. This is a guy who knows who he is and what he wants to do. Refreshing stuff for anyone who is looking for some magic formula to presenting. Take it from the masters. Relax. Be yourself. That’s what makes you shine.

There’s another piece of advice going round, which is “fake it till you make it”, so: act relaxed and in control and soon you become just that. The techniques involve centering and breathing and coming prepared. I see the importance of that and many people will take comfort in the fact that, yes, you can psych yourself into taking space and standing tall until it becomes natural. It’s really very much like practicing the drawings in the book that Chris Glass presents, Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World. Learning by doing in small, manageable steps. The important thing to keep in mind is that in the end you want to become … yourself.

Now remember, though, this is a peer-to-peer presentation. Chris Glass is sharing his stuff, not pitching to a client. To pitch or sell his ideas, he’d need a different kind of presentation, one containing arguments for or against each given solution. Chris carefully avoids any such argument here, letting his authentic stories speak for themselves.



4 Responses

  1. hi anne

    nice post, finding one’s voice when presenting is a challenge indeed. one aspect is that you believe in the message you are conveying. e.g. i find Bret Victor a great example of this, this video demonstrates this well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-OyoVcbwWE.

    compared to most presenters who appear on say TED Bret Victor is very different, his message, his content really speaks out. in terms of his delivery style many may find it ‘dull’ but somehow his content shines through. unfortunately he is unique so us lesser mortals will need to continue working on intonation, rhythm, pausing etc.


  2. Hi Mura,
    Thanks for dropping by, for your comments, and for sharing Bret Victor’s very interesting presentation, which I’ve really enjoyed.
    The thing is, he, like Chris Glass, has fantastic visuals, and the visual bits are what it’s all about, so it’s really almost a relief to have his quiet style. In the parts where he actually see him, there is one guy in the front with his head down – taking notes? sleeping? I’d love for the camera to record the audience more, so we get a sense of how he is received. But we do hear laughter, and then applause, so the geeks are happy.
    I generally work on intonation and pauses, but on Friday we have very little time, unfortunately, and they’ll be practicing, mostly, so I thought we’d do more ‘big picture’ thinking.
    All the best,
    PS: Here’s a talk by Bret Victor that would be great with Computer Scientists http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664508/ex-apple-designer-creates-teaching-ui-that-kills-math-using-data-viz

  3. hi anne

    yes hehe yeah i think he is taking notes that guy.

    thx for that video, nice and short!

    the visuals indeed are part of his subject matter expertise, what i liked about that first video is the way he manages to convey his principles underlying the cool work he is doing.


  4. Yes, absolutely, it’s quite inspiring to be introduced to guiding principles. There is a certain modesty attached to being clear about them, and then following through. I think that’s probably what I like most about all kinds of well-done science.

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