Al Gore’s masterful Dreamforce Presentation

Three weeks ago, I saw Al Gore keynote at Salesforce.com’s enormous Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. He’s still beating his drum about saving the environment, just as he did in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Only now, his evidence is stronger, his visuals are more powerful, and he’s delivering better than ever. If you want some of his presentation secrets, keep reading.

1Al Gore

The whole talk can be seen here.

His 45-minute keynote in a nutshell? The world is in bad shape, but there’s hope.

Now that that is out of the way, what I really want to share with you is how he made this talk so moving, engaging and memorable. It was the best speech I have witnessed in a long time, and there are tools that all of us can use for our own talks.

Here are Al Gore’s Tools of Engagement:

1. Take us on a journey
The former VP had a very specific and simple formula to his talk:
– Empower us: “We are changing the way we live, and we will fix this problem!” (I’m not sure he actually believes that we’ll fix it, but it makes for a better speech).
– Make us sick: Most of the talk focused on the incontrovertible evidence of how we are destroying the ozone layer and our planet. The facts, images and videos are overwhelming, undeniable and scary as hell.
– Make us well: He closed by saying that we are going to win this fight if we all join in.

2. Frame the talk
Gore did something many great speakers do: he framed his talk. He told us right up front that he was not there to merely talk to us. He was there to enlist us.

3. Repeat a refrain
He repeated a message throughout the talk: “We can do this!” Repetition can be a powerful speaking device.

4. Use logic and emotion
It’s long been said that we act on emotion and justify with reason. The images, videos and stories Gore used targeted our emotions. The numbers targeted the logic centers in our brains.

5. Leverage shocking visuals and videos
It was impossible not to pay attention. Floods in Italy carrying cars full of screaming people down river-streets, calving glaciers “the size of apartment buildings” in Greenland, polar vortices in the Midwest. At one point, as if to blast us out of our complacency, he played the video and theater-rattling sound of a nuclear explosion. Pattern Disruptions like these should be used early and often.

6. Use sign-posts
Gore made statements like “Now, this is a powerful image,” or “Look at this hockey stick graph,” or “This is the only complicated slide I am going to show.” Bill Clinton uses sign-posts as well. They’re a great way to grab people’s attention and make them listen to what’s next.

7. Close on a positive
Once he had our attention and had us convinced that the situation is dire, he closed on a positive call to action. “We have to make a decision. We have only one home, and we have the wind at our backs. Years from now, our children will ask one of two questions. Either, ‘What were you thinking?’ or, “How did you find the moral courage to do this?”

Use Al Gore’s speaking tools, and you’ll be on your way to delivering powerful, engaging, memorable presentations.

Also, keep your eyes out for our brand new website, which should be launched later this month.

Thanks for reading, and good speaking.