The BEST PRESENTATION I ever saw was 615 slides long. It took 2 hours 43 minutes to deliver in one sitting, but it felt like 20. And most of the audience were on the edge of their seats the whole time. This was Al Gore’s slideshow for Climate Reality Leadership Corps delivered in Minneapolis back in 2019. What was even more curious about the training was that we were advised not to take notes straight away, but concentrate on how we FELT.
As we watched the slides, heard the stories and studied the science it was like watching a great conductor directing a symphony. The slides went fast then slow. Al Gore’s voice was direct and dramatic when he was talking about politics, but quiet and reflective when he was talking about the planet or people. The slides were intense. Some made us laugh. A few made me cry. And there were long pauses with a black screen after each section to bring the attention back onto him and his message. It was a masterclass in the art and science of presenting.
These are the notes I took after the training for ‘Truth in 10’. This is the part where Al Gore trains climate leaders to deliver their own version of that epic slideshow in 10 minutes. He has a very unique style that creates drama and tension. I’ve added my own transition notes which are also colour coded for pauses // and the types of emotions that I want the audience to feel.
• 10 minutes
• 55 “wallpaper” slides per deck
• Script: 180 words per min
• Slide transitions av. 11 secs
This is a LOT of work for a 10-minute presentation! Roughly 100 hours in fact. Which is what the best TED speakers invest in their decks. 10 hours per minute! Al Gore’s ‘Truth in 10’ breaks many of the rules of traditional presenting, but his objective is not just to teach people climate science, it’s to inspire them to ACT. And he’s spent so long working on his craft, that he’s learned exactly HOW to break the rules in order to make his presentations memorable. The point of any story is to make people FEEL something. And the point of a purpose-driven story like this one about the climate crisis, is to inspire people to DO something.
5 big things I learned from the The Climate Reality Project training:
1. Anger is a positive emotion. Activists are tough creatures and depression and climate grief are real and overwhelming – but it’s positive emotions that drive change.
2. To drive change, sometimes all you need is 3.5% of an audience. Researchers such as Erica Chenoweth have demonstrated how sometimes all it takes is 3.5% of passionate evangelists within a group to inspire change among everyone else.
3. Not everyone wants to change the world. You can’t always “win” hearts and minds – sometimes people need to be conquered. So getting people to the the RIGHT thing for the WRONG reason can be a posirtive outcome.
4. Each person has a certain amount of hope. Call it their “hope budget”. The key is to erode enough of their hope budget to get the to act, but not TOO much that they feel helpless and overwhelmed.
5. The most effective activists do NOT spend too much time on social media. According to Tom Friedman they are “mean greens”. They don’t just blog, tweet and host podcasts. Instead they invest most of their time and energy in boardrooms and walking the corridors of power, because “the people you NEED to reach are not in your chat rooms”.
You can sign up to become a Climate Reality Leader for the next virtual training event in October 2021 here >> https://www.climaterealityproject.org/training
More info here about the “Truth in 10” and a recording of my first practice run if you’re interested >> https://jeremy.earth/portfolio/climate-change-3/