Joel Kotkin: a proper speaker

It was on 23 February, 2010, that Revelle Forum at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, hosted a talk by Joel Kotkin. He had recently published The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, and that was the subject of his talk.

Kotkin has very recently published The Coming of Neo-Feudalism, a warning to the global middle class, and there are several interesting recent interviews with him to be found on that subject, but this blog is about public speaking. Also I am keen to learn what he was projecting ten years ago.

There’s a double introduction: Dan Atkinson introduces Mary Walshok who in turn introduces Joel Kotkin, so we learn two layers of ethos before the main event even begins at 4:10.

Beginning to talk while still on the way to the lectern is a trick we’ve seen before on this blog (though it was a long time ago). Researching other speeches by Kotkin suggests to me that it may be a habit of his. It’s a good one, conveying a range of positive things like enthusiasm to get on with it, and it’s a neat device for relaxing the audience.

He leans on the lectern, and regularly looks down at it, but something tells me that this is a mannerism as distinct from his need to keep prompting himself by looking at whatever might be written there. If I am right, then he has nothing to concern him. Mannerisms are irrelevant unless they bother the audience, and they won’t do that if the talk is interesting enough. Within a short while even I am caught up in what he has to say, so it’s a non-problem. I am sure he’s shooting from the hip – and therefore in my eyes a proper speaker.

I stop making rhetor-style notes within five minutes of his starting, and simply sit and listen till he stops at 42:50. At that stage he swings into Q&A.

Even with the benefit of ten years of hindsight, I found this very interesting and well-delivered. It will be even more interesting in ten more years.