My Top Five Presentations In My History

I came across a link to a webpage that listed the Top 10 Best Presentations Ever, based on their own criteria. These weren’t necessarily speeches, but the top 10 presentations of any kind in their history. That makes sense because no one is still around from when Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, and most of us are probably too young to remember Churchill’s speech to the nation during World War II.

Out of their top 10, the only presentation I could identify with was the Martin Luther King, Jr “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, and the only other one I’d even seen was Andy Kaufman doing Mighty Mouse on Saturday Night Live in 1975. Most of their picks are technology related, so I guess it was a good thing they got Dr. King in there at all; not sure about Kaufman’s selection though.

Some time after that, they put some information together from readers of their blog and added the reader’s top 10 presentations, which was a more varied listing. Out of that list, the only one I’ve ever seen, but wouldn’t remember because I was too young, was President John Kennedy’s Berlin Wall speech in 1963, which I have to admit was pretty good.

I decided to add my own list and then ask all of you which presentations you thought were significant, and why. Remember, presentations isn’t necessarily speeches, as you’ll see from my top 5 list:

1. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Mountaintop” speech, 1968. I actually wrote about this one in my other blog, as I felt his words were chilling on that day, considering he was assassinated the next morning.

2. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” on Motown’s 25th Anniversary Special, 1984. When Michael Jackson uttered the words “I also like the new stuff,…”, magic came afterwards, and by many accounts that was the most watched entertainment moment in history at the time and possibly saved the music industry, which was in major disarray.

3. Jesse Jackson’s Democratic National Convention speech, 1988. Jesse Jackson was definitely relevant in 1988, and his successes during the 1988 Democratic primary campaign earned him a prominent spot on national television, and he followed Senator Edward Kennedy to the podium and delivered a monumental speech that, if the eventual Democratic candidate had half the passion, he’d have been elected president that year.

4. Bernard Shaw’s announcing the beginning of the Persian Gulf War, 1991. Talk about captivating television. I have no idea why I happened to be watching CNN when they suddenly cut to Bernard Shaw in Iraq, but he gave us a running narrative of the initial bombing of Baghdad while hiding underneath a table for protection, with a camera showing explosions all around them, and for the first time in history the world saw war, up close and personal, and live.

5. Neil Armstrong, first man to step on the moon, 1969. Living up to President John Kennedy’s promise to America that man would step on the moon before 1970, Neil Armstrong was tapped as the man to do the honors first, and below are those famous words that most of America saw live and grainy:

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12 thoughts on “My Top Five Presentations In My History”

  1. Not bad at all Mitch, but O reckon the only one I can relate to was Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. I can still remember his ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as if it was only yesterday, and I was only 11 at the time.

    What I find really strange is the there are some saying that the whole thing was staged. I even have teachers telling my daughter that several weeks ago. They seem to make a big thing about the flag on the moon moving in the breeze when there isn’t supposed to be a breeze there at all.

  2. IF I had to pick one it would be Armstrong on the moon. I remember it to this day.

    I truly think presentations remembered are the ones we saw in person. For me, Tony Robbins at one of his seminars. Truly an amazing presenter. I walked out of the Meadowlands floating on air. The other is Lou Holtz who presented at a business event I atteneded. He spoke for over an hour and it went by like it was 10 minutes. He made me think, laugh, and cry. Totally inspirational.

  3. Sire, the teachers have it wrong. There’s no atmosphere, but there is still gravity, which means if something has been caused to move, it’s going to move. If you noticed, dust kicked up while the men were walking on the moon; that’s how it goes. If the moon is hit by an asteroid, dust will kick up, even if there’s no air.

    As for the rest of it, it would have an American slant, since I wrote it, but are there other presentations in your life and experience that you’d put on the docket?

  4. Hi Esteban; thanks for the comments. You’re right, seeing someone give a presentation and being touched by it is pretty special also. As to the Randy Pausch presentation, I’ve only ever been able to get through just over 3 minutes of it before my mind couldn’t take it. The subject matter is tough for me to deal with, especially now that he’s gone. But I’d agree, the part I saw was very powerful, and a lot of people have been touched by it.

  5. Hi Don. That was a very good speech, one I remember from history class. But I didn’t experience it, so I didn’t count it because of that. But those words have carried on from that point until now; very powerful stuff.

  6. Nice post. I’m surprised that Michael Jackson’s Thriller video wasn’t among the best presentations. The Apple Macintosh ad of 1984 is also a great presentation.

    Iceman Baldys last blog post..Have I Lost My Mind? I’m Giving Away Marketing Lessons!

  7. The best speech I ever heard, not necessarily famous, was by Lou Holtz the former football coach and now a commentator on ESPN. He was the keynote speaker at one of my former company’s annual business meetings.

    Mr. Holtz spoke for one hour yet it felt like it went by in ten minutes. He’s not charismatic and also sounds like Daffy Duck. However what he does have is likability and substance.

    During that speech he made me laugh, think, and cry. What more can you ask for in a speech.

    Steve Borek, Executive Coach, Behavioral Analyst, and Developer of High Performance Teams

    1. I’ve always liked Lou Holtz myself, Steve. And I’m assuming you mean in person, because it’s hard to top the presentations on this page. The best live presentation I ever heard was Jesse Jackson here in Syracuse in 1988; absolutely wonderful.

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