In Author, Delivery, Facial expression, Gesturing, Learning from Luminaries, Luminary, News, Owning space, The Winning Voice, Voice

Dan Pink’s delivery and content in his 2009 TED talk The puzzle of motivation (please see link and clip below) is a good one to learn from – to help make your presentations influential.

Below is my analysis of Pink’s delivery at certain points in the talk.

Overall Pink has a light, playful delivery throughout the talk. This often, is how the best leaders present themselves to the world. He is a great example of perceived, genuine enthusiasm sells. He has a measured, variable speaking cadence combined with voice energy. He ‘owns’ the stage and the physical space in front of his body with definite and expansive gestures, that are linked to his messages.

Below is my analysis of specific segments of the clip:

NB: (if you only HAVE LIMITED TIME, I suggest watching the Opening > 34 second segment## and the 4:00-5:00 minute one **

Opening> 34 second: A great hook to listen. ‘I need to make a confession’ followed by the punch line. Note how well Pink kept a serious face consistent with making a confession to effectively set up the punch line.

50 second > 1:00 minute segment: Pink’s self-deprecating language through clever unexpected use of the words. That is, ‘made the top 90% possible’.

2:50-3:00 segment: The acceleration in speaking cadence drawing your attention.

**4:00-5:00 segment: The increase in loudness, emotional force and cadence to emphasis a point, followed and counterpointed by a hushed voice, and a definite pause before ‘…and also one of the most ignored’.

6:15-6:30 segment: Ownership of space with in-front-of-body arm/hand gestures that progressively move away from his body. The gestures well enhance his message.

8:00-8:45 segment: Pink’s ‘outrage’ conveyed through his face, body and voice while splicing in ‘one-liners’.

10:50-11:00 segment: The held, extended arms stretching away from his torso, which command the stage. (Many speakers never allow themselves the license to own areas of space around their body. As well, their gestures are continually moving instead of holding a gesture for a second or two.

15:40-15-55 segment: Use of the literary device, ellipsis. That is ending a series a sentence with the same phrase. ‘…goes up’.

Closing minute: Pink’s voice get deeper and softer which projects certainty align to his key points. He finishes with a crescendo with the literary device anaphora. That is, starting a series of sentences with the same word or phrase. ‘If we… If we…’

This was a masterful performance by Pink. My only minor suggestion would be for him to occasionally ‘calm’ an arm (keeping one arm hanging by his side while gesturing with the other). At times his gestures distract from his message.

Here is the LINK to the clip


Own the Conversation

In the next seven days,

Consider how you might adapt Pink’s ‘I have a confession to make . . .’hook’, or

Practice one of his gestures in a safe interaction, or

Learn the first 34 seconds of the clip – the words as well as the Pink’s voice, speaking cadence, face and body language. Then video your performance of that segment trying to match the high standard of Pink’s performance, while putting your own individual mark on it.


Here’s a post on why moving toward an audience will increase your confidence

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to Behind the Voice

Regular insights, guidance and commentary on how communication influences business and the world around us

Thank you for subscribing