Presentation Skills Critique: Green Architect

Listen to an interesting talk then read my critique of the presentation skills.

Peter Busby is a well-known architect specializing in ‘green’ design. You only need to listen to the first few minutes to understand my review. Listen to the rest if you have time. It’s an interesting and educational talk. I enjoyed it.


1. At about 3 minutes into the talk he uses a chart to talk about the increase in green house gas emissions in Canada. He shows where Canada was in 1990 and how not only hasn’t it improved but the problem is growing worse. He then compares the same time period for the EU which shows a significantly different story. This comparison very effectively illustrates perfectly his main message; which is “We can make a difference. We do need to make a difference and we know how to make a difference.”

Tip: Starting your talk with an example that illustrates your overall main message is an extremely effective way to gain attention and interest. Right after the example, the main umbrella message is usually explicitly stated, as he did here, however, at times the message is implicit.

2. At one point in the talk he mentions a large number. He said that a building was saving 54,000 tons of ghgs. Although he tells us that’s a significant amount, most people will be unaware of what exactly the number means. So he very effectively puts the number in terms that everyone can understand. He said ” If you drive a normal car you consume about 3.5 tons, if SUV about 5 tons per year. so you can see we are making a difference perhaps equivalent to 10 or 15,000 people”.

Tip: When mentioning statistics or large numbers, especially with audiences that are not experts in your field, it is important to put the numbers in context. It is important to explicitly tell your audience what the numbers mean and give them a comparison they can relate to.

For improvement:

1, At the beginning of the talk (25 seconds in) he says…”I talk fast…I’m sorry…” Apologizing at the beginning of talk, for any reason, is always a bad idea.

Tip: There is no need to point out negatives to your audience especially at the beginning of a talk; it just reduces your credibility and professionalism. The first few minutes are the crucial time that your audience will be making judgments about you and deciding to listen or not. Apologies are likely to turn off some of your listeners. Always be interesting and confident at the start.

This bring me to my second improvement.

2. This speaker would have been better served had he started directly with the chart comparing Canada to Europe (mentioned above).

Tip: To make a great first impression you’ll want to be sure that the very first words out of your mouth are interesting, appropriate (again, not an apology) and are directly related to your message.

Have YOUR presentation critiqued. Sign up for the next small group presentation skills workshop, consider one-on-one coaching, or ask your organization to sponsor a large group seminar. Afterall, you didn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a book–you needed an expert coach (your Dad) to show you how to do it and then you needed lots of encouragement and practice, right?

There is 1 comment .

Penny Hensley —

I would like some information about your Presentation Skills Workshop with one-on-one coaching and what the cost might be.
Thank you,
Penny Hensley

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