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How to Avoid Giving a Rubber Crutch Speech

Written by Gary North on August 13, 2014

A prep school in a Seattle suburb — a town located close to Microsoft’s headquarters — brought in a group of high-level speakers to present a seminar.

One of them teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Washington in Seattle: Dr. Emer Dooley. She presents a useful message: start-up entrepreneurs who succeed usually attempt to minimize their losses, should the venture fail. In other words, their exit strategies do not involve a financial catastrophe. But she crippled her presentation with a useless, distracting image on a screen behind her. She turned what could have been a very good speech into a mediocre speech.

She is Irish. She has the gift of gab. Her words are good. Her points are good. No one goes to sleep. Yet the speech is a classic example of rubber-crutch communications. She makes herself dependent on a slide — a nearly useless, minimal-information slide. It is like a barnacle on a boat’s bottom. But, unlike owners of boats, she deliberately attaches the barnacle.

She presents the image 9 minutes into the speech. The image immediately takes over her speech. She becomes its appendage.

She says it’s a “nifty” slide. No, it isn’t. It’s a stupid slide. A stupid slide is a slide that takes more time to explain than it conveys crucial information. Worse, she does not bother to explain it. She does not have a laser pointer. She illustrates nothing as she talks. The image conveys almost zero information.

She announces that it’s a three-dimensional slide. No, it isn’t. No slide is. It’s a two-dimensional slide that she has attempted to turn into a three-dimensional slide, which is close to impossible, and which almost always confuses viewers.

(To see her rubber crutch lecture, click the link.)

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4 thoughts on “How to Avoid Giving a Rubber Crutch Speech

  1. lenaathome says:

    That wasn't a laser pointer at 9:43?

  2. She had a laser pointer and North is full of himself. This guy has problem's with law enforcement and now he's an expert on giving a lecture. He wants to use high tech as a crutch. I enjoyed her lecture and so did the audience judging by the applause.

  3. peleus212 says:

    I was not actually at the lecture but watched it on line and frankly I enjoyed it. She seemed excited about what she was presenting, did not just read bullet points [I hate that, we all can read] and seemed to have the force with her with the laser pointer. I don't care for speakers that just stand there, but that is me.

    I've given presentations for many years and have never stopped learning

  4. Gerald V. Todd says:

    I enjoyed the talk too. The chart wasn't that great, but it made her key points. I'm an advocate of Chaos Theory as applied to business and ideas. "Do something" she said. Who knows who you will meet, where the idea will morph, etc. That's chaos that's opposite of rioting in the streets.