Walter Isaacson – A superlative storyteller – but I have one complaint

I just saw Walter Isaacson speak.  For one hour, he told stories about the creativity, beauty, curiosity and humanity of Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.

With this common thread, he recounted anecdotes from each of these geniuses.

There were no slides.   Just Mr. Isaacson.

You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium which held over 500 people.

It was the stories that held our attention.

I can’t stress enough how storytelling will help you elevate and enhance your ability to capture the audience.

So, instead of reciting data and statistics, tell us a story that helps us visualize the meaning of your message.

I had two issues with his presentation skills, which could be solved by making one change.  First issue – he kept his hands in his pocket most of the time; and two –  his voice trailed off as he was concluding a lot of his sentences.  This prevented many of us from hearing the entire phrase.

However, when he pulled his hands out of his pockets and started gesturing, he became more animated, more engaging, and so did his voice.

My years of experience tells me that there is an interesting connection between our hand gestures and our voice.  When we include a deliberate gesture, our voices will gesture, too:  involuntarily.  We automatically look and sound more involved, interested, engaged.

While Walter Isaacson held the audience’s attention, most of us need as much help as possible.  My advice is – don’t hide your hands.  Find a neutral place to rest your hands (when not gesturing) so that they are ready to serve their purpose – to emphasize and illustrate words.

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