Public Speaking Lessons from Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is perhaps best known as being the world’s foremost authority on chimpanzees. And from this video from, we can plainly see that she is a passionate, articulate, and persuasive speaker, who can capture an audience’s attention from the moment she says her first word.
Let’s look at each part of her presentation (introduction, middle, conclusion) to see what makes Jane’s presentation so effective. My thoughts are listed below, but if you think I missed anything, feel free to let me know.

– Jane warms up her audience by telling an amusing story in very vivid, descriptive language. She explains why her speech fits into the theme of the conference, then wraps up the intro with an actual chimpanzee mating call (you MUST check it out – around 3:30 in the video).
– She bypasses the typical “this is what I’m going to talk to you about” introduction by delivering the presentation in a conversational way. This is a unique skill that she pulls off very well.
– Jane shares some facts about new technology in working with chimps, and entertains with fascinating stories.
– At 11:00 min., once she’s got the audience in the palm of her hand with her warm and fuzzy stories, her tone turns serious. Powerful calls-to-action start to emerge. At around 14:30, she speeds up her speaking pace to dramatically emphasize her point.
– At 19:00 min., she introduces another key item – one which, it seems, she was building up during the whole speech – her organization, Roots & Shoots. Her inspirational messages move the calls-to-action beyond simply “pick up my brochures.”
– She ends on a positive note with some powerful calls-to-action on how we can change the world.
– She goes over time (usually a big no-no), but I imagine that it’s quite difficult to say “stop” to Jane Goodall. Watch this video, and you’ll understand why.
Final notes:
– Throughout the presentation, Jane’s got what I call the “smile in the eyes.”  Very open and engaged, even when speaking about serious issues. The mark of a truly experienced speaker.
– Jane does not move from behind her podium, proving that you do not always have to “work the stage” to get, and keep, your audience’s undivided attention. She knows what speaking style works for her, and sticks to it.
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