insights on communication skills

Insights on Communication Skills and Relationship Building

Set Design and Unusual Space: Jay Silver's Demo Presentation [TED Vid]

Posted by Bridget Beirne on April 10, 2014

Not only is the MaKey MaKey an incredibly cool piece of technology, but Jay runs a compelling demo presentation of his invention at TED. 

Who DOESN'T want to control their computer with pizza? Or play the ketchup piano? Jay's unique personal stamp shines through when he's presenting the MaKey MaKey. He lets us get to know not only the tech, but the man behind it, complete with video of his son and stories about his travels while inventing. But we'd like to give some kudos today to his set design in an unusual space. Watch the video, dream up all of the super-cool ways you would change your computer interface, then join us afterwards for some quick set design and demo thoughts:



Jay was presenting in a challenging space. He had three major set pieces to fit in a small, almost semi-circular area. Here's how he succeeded, and you can, too:

1. He made sure HE was still the star by creating a space that allowed him to take center stage. This is Demo-presentation-Jay-Silver-TEDdefinitely one of those technical demos, yet notice where his tech is located. He knows that he is still the main event- not even his brilliant invention has the floor over him. He embraced the roundness of the stage and allowed his set to create outer boundaries that gave him multiple playing spaces while still preserving center stage.

2. Jay's slide screen was set at an angle where everyone could see it, including him! He had the luxury of setting that screen off to the side, which meant he could reference his deck without ever having to turn his back on his audience, or feeling compelled to talk to his slides. Awesome! (Extra points for using his remote as an extension of his arm. He is still able to gesture because he holds his remote in an open palm, rather than fiddling with it between two clasped hands.)

3. Jay's actual demo table is round, which can be tricky.(It's hard to set a round table at an angle as we might advise.) How does he negotiate it? By stepping behind the table, facing the audience (again, nothing is set in a way that he needs to turn around to run his demo) and then getting the heck away from the table ASAP! Seriously, nothing could be cooler than showing someone how they can advance slides on their laptop with a slice of pepperoni pie. But he doesn't linger behind his tech table, because he knows HE is the one running a demo of MaKey MaKey, not the other way around.

And one thing we might advise:

1. Jay uses a flip board at one point to demonstrate the ketchup piano. (Yes, you heard it- Ketchup. Piano.) It's relatively small, and it's the only object that takes Jay away from his audience momentarily. (Note, he still does a fantastic job of continuing to talk TO them, rather than to the ketchup...) If you 've got a small, mobile set piece that you only need for one moment of your demo, bring it downstage! No need to feel that it HAS to be bolted down in one place. Moving a piece like that closer to your audience when you need it will help you avoid getting upstaged by your set.

Jay's demo is not only well-set, but inspiring and a lot of fun- a great way to get you through to the end of the week! Many thanks to Jay and TED for sharing his talk. Now, off to dream up a way to make a chocolate guitar...


Exceptional Presentation Skills