14 responses to “Episode 4: Review of Jamie Oliver”

  1. fantastic assessment Scott and Travis! you got it right. I think you hit all the highlights–I'd add that his physicality could be channelled into his content (when he lists things, he can move from his right to left, audience's reading order); for SURE he must have the backing to have a designer (NETWORK) to support his visual piece–have you seen his cookbooks–GORGEOUS. He can connect his love of food and aesthetics (even the gross/good stuff he's doing on his show) and just have full-bleed photos to make his powerful points. I am fwding your post to a friend at a food network to see if we can get it to him (it's a weak link, but ya never know).

  2. Hi Scott and Travis
    Jamie Oliver is a great guy to review because of this authentic passion for his topic. But I disagree that he (or anyone else) should ditch the notecards.

    For most of the audience what will be the impact of the notecards? They may notice he has them momentarily but then they'll go back to listening to what Jamie has to say. For most people, the notecards will only distract for a few seconds. In other words they're a trivial issue from the audience point of view.

    But what about from Jamie's point of view? The notecards are a critical safety-net. If he goes off-track, he can refer back to them, if his mind goes blank, he can refer to them. As it happened, he only needed to refer to them a couple of times. But that's not the point. The point is that he knew that he had them, and that gave him a level of security so that he could get on with the job of speaking passionately to the audience rather than worrying about a mind blank.


  3. ***********
    This was originally (and accidentally) posted under Scott's account and not mine. Sorry for the re-post!

    Hi Olivia,

    You bring up some interesting points. Might the audience forget about the note cards as the presentation moves along? Probably. However, there's a subconscious thing that occurs when the audience sees note cards in the hands of the speaker: we assume they are either not prepared or not fully comfortable with their topic. Both can be credibility killers and it sets up unnecessary hurdles for them to overcome at the very start of a presentation – before words even escape the speaker's mouth. As a presenter, you have to be that much better to cause the audience to consider the note cards a non-issue. In Jaime's case, he succeeded and then some. All the more reason I don't think he needed them.

    Additionally, when a presenter walks up on stage with a "mental crutch" like note cards, they are more likely to become dependent on the cards during the course of the presentation because they've trained their brain to rely on them. Our brains are funny that way. Teach them they don't have to work too hard to remember something and they'll gladly release it.

    To each his own, certainly. But I'd rather not have to overcome additional hurdles. All-in-all, Jaime's preso was fantastic. Thanks for your thoughts!


  4. Hy Dyana!

    Thank you so much! Great suggestions on using stage presence and location in a speech.

    I wondered the same things about the slide design. It's not like he doesn't have extremely good (financial) backing to create some more engaging slides. His cookbook designs are phenomenal and he focuses on how his dishes are presented. Why not bring that into your presentation?

    Great thoughts! If you're friend at the Food Network is interested, have him contact me travis@ethos3.com!


  5. Hi Olivia,

    Thanks for your comment. Always appreciate solid feedback. However, I'll have to take a stand on this one. Notecards are a complete credibility killer. As an audience member it conveys the message that you (the speaker) didn't prepare enough – caring more about yourself rather than your audience. If a presenter is truly prepared and ready, notecards will never be needed. The use of them simply implies that they are not truly ready and thus are unprepared.


  6. Thanks, Dyana! Really appreciate it!

  7. Jay says:

    Hey Guys,

    Great post. However, I didn't see any of the presentation other than Jamie looking at his notes and turning around to look at 1 slide. I thought you were going to slam him for just that – reading from the slide and notes. Was there more to the video than what I saw? Regardless, his passion overcomes all of the objections plus he is already an established expert and we tend to forgive these shortcomings for celebrities. That said, your advice on the PROPER way to present is spot on!

  8. Scott Berkun says:

    I'm totally with Olivia. I don't think anyone but public speaking experts care about notecards vs. no-notecards. The only people i have ever heard make a stink about this are people who are professional speakers, or who teach people public speaking skills. In years of running events and reading speaking feedback for all my speakers, I can't think of a single instance where someone said "He was great, smart, funny, and had great points, but man, those notecards in his hand made me not trust anything he said".

    Specific to Jamie Oliver, he could have prepared more so that he didn't look at his own slides so much, and perhaps his notecards could have been a little smaller or held in his hands less so they'd be less noticeable, but that's his use of the cards, not the existence of the cards themselves.

    > As an audience member it conveys the message that you (the speaker) didn't prepare enough

    What audience of normal people did you survey to make this claim?

    Notecards are a kind of prop. So are slides. So are videos. Some people know how to use props well, but many don't. But I don't see the use of cards or slides as a problem provided they're used well and helps the speaker do, from the audiences perspective, a good job.

  9. Hi everyone!
    Thanks so much for this video Travis and Scott!

    I think notecards can be the credibility killer but they don’t have to. Yesterday I attended Toastmasters local club speech competition, where I saw an example of the first instance. A short assessment of the given talk was done using notecards and just after it a next assessment done without it. The difference was evident.

    Being a credibility killer or not may depend on few things that go together. First and foremost on the level of preparation (amount of references to the cue cards, occasional vs. repetitive), secondly the speaker’s personality (ex. charisma vs. no charisma) and thirdly the space of the venue (when you look at the cards it is much more visible in small room than in a big hall – TED conference).

    I agree with Olivia that from the audience point of view Jamie’s notecards are not harmful for spreading the message and if his mind goes blank he can refer back to them. How would other speakers deal with it, I don’t know.

    Being a “virtual” audience member I have noticed them somehow after 5 minutes or so but as he went on, in my interpretation, they have become kind of a prop during the talk. I can see that Scott Berkun mentioned that as well. The question is: is the prop distractive? For me when watching Jamie Oliver’s talk for the first time it wasn’t. Second time, yes but only slightly for a little while when he was listing things and hit his second hand with them.

    Personally when giving a talk after let’s say 5-7 rehearsals (I am also the kind of speaker paying a lot of attention to preparation stage) I wouldn’t use notecards, but when given the opportunity to give a TED talk I would probably took them with me, just in case. You never know when your mind will go blank 😉

    Travis, very interesting point with becoming dependent on the cards.
    Scott, great point with the amount of slides during Jamie’s talk, but he’s probably more Travis style speakerhttps://www.ethos3.com/2010/04/know-your-strengths

    Again, thanks for your job guys and I really appreciate that you’re using the sandwich assessment method!


  10. Joel Heffner says:

    One can be prepared and forgetful…especially as you get older. I prefer props over notecards. I carefully place each prop in such a way that it reminds me of my next point. Sometimes, I even put a word or two on the back of the prop so that only I can see it when I hold it up.

  11. Rui says:

    Notecards actually mean the presenter is really well prepared. They convey the highlights of presentation. In this case Jamie message is so strong that he didn’t want to miss out is key points – what people came to see him about after all. With notecards you can feel the audience and add some audience/place touch to presentation knowing you can always go back in track. I use a small sheet of paper with main topics, even if most of the times I don’t refer to it. The very action of writing down short phrases helps me think on how to convey the message. For me it adds credibility to the presenter.

  12. Hi Scott and Travis

    Whether your credibility is affected is in the eyes of the audience. My view, or your view is just one view. As Scott B alluded to we need a survey. It would be great to be able to ask the audience at TED "Did Jamie's use of notes affect his credibility?" We can't do that, but just judging from reading a few of the comments below the video on the TED site, people are not concerned about Jamie's use of notes – they're passionately debating the issues he's raised.

    But here's my real problem with saying "using notecards is a complete credibility killer". To say that people should not use notecards is an unreasonable standard to hold people to. It excludes many ordinary people from speaking in public based on the performance of their memory rather than the substance of their ideas. For many people, it doesn't matter how many hours of rehearsal they've put in – there's always the risk that in the stress of speaking in front of thousands of people, their memory will fail. Notecards are the solution.

    Travis – you mentioned that Jamie didn't even really need the notecards. The paradox is that maybe he didn't need them, because he had them. That is, the notecards gave him a level of comfort that enabled him to get on with speaking rather than worrying about whether he would remember what he wanted to say.


  13. Paul says:

    One can be prepared and forgetful…especially as you get older. I prefer props over notecards. I carefully place each prop in such a way that it reminds me of my next point. Sometimes, I even put a word or two on the back of the prop so that only I can see it when I hold it up.

  14. Ian says:

    One can be prepared and forgetful…especially as you get older. I prefer props over notecards. I carefully place each prop in such a way that it reminds me of my next point. Sometimes, I even put a word or two on the back of the prop so that only I can see it when I hold it up.

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