Rose Goslinga triumphs

If you were a very assiduous follower of this blog, and also equipped with a good memory, you might recall this posting from the end of May 2013. Rose Goslinga had delivered a Pop Tech talk about her relatively new business, insuring African farmers against drought. The link will enable you to go back and look at that posting if you wish, but essentially I restricted myself to expressing concern over fussy, distracting visuals, and her own inner confidence that I felt was a little fragile.

In June of this year, in Berlin, she delivered a TED talk.

Inevitably I find myself looking for the vulnerability I spotted previously; and I delight in the dazzling smile with which at the very beginning she bathes the audience. Is it a completely confident smile?

Even before the video started I could answer that. Like every other speaker in history she is experiencing a hump, so there absolutely has to be an element of artifice in that smile. I congratulate her on how well she does it.

Her opening is driven by slides with almost no words on them, so her voice and the pictures complement each other to set the scene and create her required decorum. It lasts a smidgen more than 90 seconds, so her hump will now be receding fast. She swings into ethos, with again wordless slides, and we are given a clear picture of the background to her business. This lasts another minute, so by the time she gets to the nitty-gritty her hump is history and her voice is good and strong.  Excellent construction.

When she is explaining the way her business works, she is much more sparing with her slides, and still they are almost completely wordless. Her visuals never compete with her: that is the key.

I shall not spoil her story by trying to precis it. It’s a good story and she tells it very well. It reaches its punchline with a visual that begins at 8:36 and progresses. That visual, as part of the overall narrative, is simply brilliant. This hardened old cynic actually got the warm fuzzies from it, and it triggered a spontaneous round of applause from the audience.

Her closing is paired with her opening: she closes the circle.

Rose Goslinga is not a trainee of mine, though our having shared acquaintances it is not impossible that she has read my book. If she were my trainee I would be proud as hell.

Rose Goslinga – Mvua ame fika

Business speaking is my niche. I work principally with business people whose speaking centres around the need persuasively to communicate commercial matters to other business people. Yet this blog very seldom addresses business speeches because there are not many out there, on line, on video. I was delighted therefore to be introduced to Pop Tech. I could try to tell you all about them, but it is easier for me to supply a link so that you can see them for yourself. Pop Tech have Popcasts, and today we are going to be looking at one such.

Rose Goslinga has an insurance business that has developed a package that enables small-holding African farmers to be able to afford to protect themselves against drought-induced crop-failure. Here she is explaining it; and she shoots it from the hip – without script or notes.

She has a bald opening. Furthermore it is a James Bond film opening. She settles the audience for 45 seconds by speaking (I think) Swahili for us. In the process she makes it clear that Africa is her home. In fact she establishes that detail in one tiny word – we – “…in Kenya we say…” It is excellent ethos and decorum.

Immediately afterwards she lays out her stall. “I insure the rains.”  Having done that, and before going into detail, she briefly returns to her ethos to consolidate it with some photographs. Thereafter she explains how the insurance works and what it achieves. Her ending is ‘paired’ with her opening, thus closing the circle.  All my trainees will testify how much I advocate closing the circle. In fact her entire structure is very good: she’s kept it simple and dealt in clear concepts. Given all that, how much value could I add if she sought my help?

In terms of material, I would address her visuals. This is always difficult to judge when you are not in the hall itself, but here is a smattering of what I think. Those heart-warming pictures are ideal for ethos and decorum. Her man in yellow, who acted as her weather station, was also very helpful. But I think the abundance of pictures may be counter-productive when she is explaining the nitty-gritty: they certainly are not essential to the explanation. I would expect audience members’ attention to start drifting just after the 2:30 mark. The pictures are fussy and interfere with the clarity of her message. They steal too much of the audience’s focus from her, not least because she almost seems to lean on them for support. And this brings me to my main concern for her.

Her delivery is quiet, slightly shy, but warm and friendly. I am sensing that it conceals a fairly serious measure of stress. I won’t go into all the supposed symptoms, but I repeatedly felt that I’d like to help her kick much of that stress into touch. Without it she could still display the same shyness and warmth – which is appealing and probably her natural self – but she could do it from a much more secure emotional platform. And that would enhance not just this speech but all her speaking, not least by freeing her from dependence on visuals.

Most importantly, it would cause her to enjoy it more.