How to share ideas like Elon Musk.

Last week Elon Musk conducted a keynote to announce the launch of the Tesla Powerwall, a battery that stores electricity harnessed by solar panels to power your home. A couple of blogs have talked about how this was one of the best presentations in tech — a massive claim. Think about it, Steve Jobs was an amazing speaker and his keynote launching the iPhone was a pivotal moment. However as some have pointed out, Jobs was essentially selling a better smartphone (smartphones existed back then), whereas Musk was presenting a better future.

A few things can be learnt from how Musk delivered his presentation and I’ve distilled them down into the checklist below.

  1. Be real.
    There is no doubt that Musk is extremely intelligent, but here he jokes with the audience and explains his vision in a frank tone. You sell on the intelligence of an idea, not the person delivering it.
  2. Establish the playing field.
    This is crucial in any great presentation. Musk starts by reminding everyone of the present-day situation then takes a macro view to pinpoint the opportunity, implying we can change everything if we do this one thing.
  3. Simplify complex ideas.
    Musk takes his time to explain in simple terms the issues with the current solution and how the problems can be solved. He uses visuals and real-world metaphors to assist his argument. This is just another reminder of the timeless Einstein quote: if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
  4. Detail the complexity in the everyday.
    His description of the sun as a “handy fusion reactor in the sky” reminds the viewer of the immense source of power that we take for granted each day. By reframing the complex things that we take for granted, he explains what is accepted but not understood.
  5. Outline the implications.
    Normally you see people people outlining the features of an idea, Musk takes it a step further by demonstrating the ultimate benefit.

It’s also good to note how Musk is a champion of the open source movement, believing that ideas only get better when shared. So by effectively presenting your ideas, the greater the chances are of someone else picking them up and building on them.

Good luck and enjoy your next presentation.