michael-weschMichael Wesch studies YouTube the way David Attenborough studies insects and lizards.

Along the way he’s developed a superbly engaging presentation style. I don’t often watch presentation videos to the end – but I was glued to the screen for the entire 55 minutes of this presentation:

What is the Michael Wesch style?

It’s a mash up of YouTube videos and his own (and his students’) video creations accompanied by his narration. It’s a cross between a presentation and a documentary.

The Wesch style is now being picked up by other pioneer presenters. Dr Alec Couros, a professor of educational technology is playing with it. Check out this teaser he produced for a conference presentation:

This style is a step further than just inserting the odd bit of video into your presentation. It’s about integrating video into the core of your presentation. Your presentation becomes a documentary, and you’re the narrator.

Think like a documentary maker

If you were making a documentary on your presentation topic, what would you do?

I’ve done a thought experiment. I have a presentation that I deliver as a demonstration on our courses and that I use as an example in my Presentation Planning Guide. The presentation is on Kiva – the microfinance website which allows you to lend directly to poor people in developing countries so they can start a business. How could I use the Wesch style for this presentation?

1. Interviews with people involved with Kiva

In my presentation, I quote Bill Clinton on the Kiva phenomenon. But what if I used video instead. A search on YouTube and a few seconds later, I had found video footage of Bill Clinton talking about Kiva. I also found interviews with the founders of Kiva, Matt and Jessica Flannery and many short documentaries that people have made.

If you’re not a YouTube afficionado, you may not be aware just how much is available on YouTube. The New York Times says:

With inexpensive cameras flooding the market and a proliferation of Web sites hosting seemingly unlimited numbers of clips, it’s never been easier to create and upload video. You can now find an online video on virtually any topic. Web videos teach how to grout a tub, offer reviews of the latest touch-screen phones and give you a feel for walking across the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy.

And you don’t have to rely on YouTube. I could video people around me who lend money through Kiva. I could set up and record skype interviews with people across the globe.

2. Screencast of process of lending money through Kiva

Traditionally I’ve used an animated flowchart to demonstrate the process of lending money through Kiva. But a screencast (a screencast is a video of a computer screen) would be that much more real.

3. Video myself drawing the Kiva concept

Drawing freehand on a flipchart is engaging and authentic. But it does suffer from a number of drawbacks. It’s slow, it’s live (and you might mistakes) and it may be too small for a large audience. So why not video myself drawing it and then speed up the video footage for the presentation. Michael Wesch does this, but the Common Craft videos are a source of inspiration as is Daev Gray’s video Free the Facts

Other resources to implement the Wesch style

Just as you can find stock photos on the web, so you can find stock video footage. iStockphoto has a good selection and a search on stock video brings up many other websites.

What ideas do you have for implementing the Wesch style?

Want to create your most engaging presentation ever?


Plan your presentation with the SpeakerMap™ - a proven system that will have you feeling confident and credible.


Success! You'll soon receive an email from us with a link to step 1 of the SpeakerMap system.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Discover more from Speaking about Presenting

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading