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The other day I gave one of our Storytelling for Executives workshop programs. In it I showed one of my all-time favorite videos, the Turbo Encabulator. I show it to demonstrate the best and worst aspects of using jargon. Most people do not even realize how much jargon they use in his or her various communications. This video is a humorous way of gently reminding everyone to minimize jargon. One of the program participants asked me for the actual text of the video (see below), prompting me to write this post.
You owe it to yourself to watch this one and half minute video to be completely awed at the delivery by a truly gifted presenter, Bud Haggert. If it wasn't for the fact that nearly every important word is made up, you might actually believe he is talking about a very technical, highly complex piece of machinery, the Turbo Encabulator.
Director Dave Rondot shares the background of how the video came to be...
This is the first time Turbo Encabulator was recorded with picture. I shot this in the late 70's at Regan Studios in Detroit on 16mm film. The narrator and writer is Bud Haggert. He was the top voice-over talent on technical films. He wrote the script because he rarely understood the technical copy he was asked to read and felt he shouldn't be alone.
We had just finished a production for GMC Trucks and Bud asked since this was the perfect setting could we film his Turbo Encabulator script. He was using an audio prompter referred to as "the ear". He was actually the pioneer of the ear. He was to deliver a live speech without a prompter. After struggling in his hotel room trying to commit to memory he went to plan B. He recorded it to a large Wollensak reel to reel recorder and placed it in the bottom of the podium. With a wired earplug he used it for the speech and the "ear" was invented.
Today every on-camera spokesperson uses a variation of Bud's innovation. Dave Rondot (me) was the director and John Choate was the DP on this production. The first laugh at the end is mine. My hat's off to Bud a true talent.
Wikipedia has an entry providing some nice background information on the origin of the Turbo Encabulator idea, posting by Time Magazine (I bought the issue), the actual GE product data sheet included in the General Electric Handbook (see picture below), and more.
Here's the text. Enjoy!
For a number of years now, work has been proceeding in order to bring perfection to the crudely conceived idea of a transmission that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters. Such an instrument is the turbo encabulator.
Now basically the only new principle involved is that instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxes, it is produced by the modial interaction of magneto-reluctance and capacitive diractance.
The original machine had a base plate of pre-famulated amulite surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving bearings were in a direct line with the panametric fan. The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzlevanes, so fitted to the ambifacient lunar waneshaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented.
The main winding was of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semi-boloid slots of the stator, every seventh conductor being connected by a non-reversible tremie pipe to the differential girdle spring on the "up" end of the grammeters.
The turbo-encabulator has now reached a high level of development, and it’s being successfully used in the operation of novertrunnions. Moreover, whenever a forescent skor motion is required, it may also be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocation dingle arm, to reduce sinusoidal repleneration.
While doing some searching on the Internet, I came across an article on public speaking. The speaker said early in every presentation, he tells people
“This presentation is for you. So don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions. In fact I encourage you to argue with me. I’m here for you. In fact, I challenge you to throw me off. That’s what makes this fun.”
While his intent is positive, how I could not DISAGREE more with most of what he said. Sentence by sentence, here are my comments and suggestions:
a) This presentation is for you
> I like it
b) “So” don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions.
> “So” is a filler word. It is one thing to say it and another to write it. Don’t include it in your writing. One thing to note, “so” is one of my filler words and I continue to work on removing it from my speaking
c) “don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions”
> “interrupt” is a negative word, 1,000%. It means to stop someone from doing what they were doing. No one likes to be interrupted.
> instead, say something like, “don’t hesitate to ask questions” or make it more positive by saying, “please ask questions at any time.”
d) In fact I encourage you to argue with me.
> Really, you want people to argue with you? In public? In front of everyone else in the room? In front of your superiors, colleagues, friends?
> I find this statement illogical. Can you think of any time in your personal or professional life you wanted to be sitting next to or standing next to two people arguing? People run from conflict…it’s human nature.
> Part of his audience are global professionals. There is a huge disconnect here as global audience members never ever, never ever, challenge the speaker.
> Make people feel good about interacting with you, the speaker. Perhaps something like, “if you have experiences different than what I am talking about, please share them. Different perspectives are helpful to everyone.”
e) I’m here for you
> It’s okay
f) In fact, I challenge you to throw me off.
> see comments under (d)
Here’s my suggestion for a revised introduction.
“This presentation is for you. Please ask questions at any time…don’t hesitate. If you have experiences different than what I am talking about, please share them. Different perspectives are helpful to everyone. Hearing from you is what makes this fun.”
What do you think?
On Monday evening, I was invited by a colleague to attend Arthur Herman's book launch at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. In "Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II," the AEI website writes," Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman describes how the U.S. won history’s greatest conflict by harnessing free market principles and private-sector creativity and innovation to increase war production."
I enjoyed Herman's talk very much. Overall, well done. I am looking forward to reading my signed copy of "Freedom's Forge."
For The Chief Storyteller's "Presentation Review" Series, here are some thoughts and ideas on Mr. Herman's presentation:
> Dr. Herman began talking about the rainy weather. While it may seem mundane, it was a great way to build rapport with the audience.
> The real meat and potatoes started with "Now, what I want to do here tonight is to tell you a story. And this is a story that usually is told backwards.
If you go to the textbooks, if you go to the movies, if you go to the usual discussions..."
> Excellent way of engaging the audience with "usually told backwards." Now we are waiting for how, why, etc. He builds intrigue.
> He uses a veru powerful figure of speech called anaphora. Anaphora is where the speaker repeats the same word or phrase at the beginning of two or more sentences. Herman uses "If you go to the" three times.
> He showed a black and white photograph of a B29 Bomber to complement his message.
> Herman shared a very logical and linear approach to support his ideas.
> My suggestion is to tell more stories to illustrate your points. While he hinted at some in short, 20 to 30 second spans, I'd suggest two to three minute stories. For example, in the Q&A, he mentioned a richly told story of a young woman working in a factory. He shared that she wrote a letter to her husband saying something like, "I am helping build a ship for him to come home in." The quiet in the room was palpable. It was a moving example. More example stories would have made his talk even better and more memorable.
> Herman wrapped up his presentation in a neat little bow. "The people I think you will meet in this book. The people that I met as a result of writing it. I have to tell you. I fell in love with them. I hope in reading this book you will too. Thank you very much." (Around the 44:00 minute mark in the video)
> During Q&A, Mr. Herman was poised, inviting, and comfortable. He made every person whom asked a question feel important.
> His photographs perfectly complemented his points and were engaging and interesting to look at.
> He varied his voice quality, tone, and cadence in just the right ways. Body language as well.
To learn more about Dr. Herman:
- AEI video of his presentation
- Wikipedia page
- Time interview "How To Build a War Machine"
- Book listing on Amazon (click here or on the image below)