Speech Critique: Averting the Climate Crisis, Al Gore

Speech Critique: Averting the Climate Crisis, Al Gore

TED Talk 2006 – Averting the Climate Crisis, Al Gore


In 2006, Al Gore gave a TED Talk entitled “Averting the Climate Crisis.”  In this talk he outlines 15 things that the individual person can do to mitigate and hopefully avert the climate crisis.  He opened with a humorous anecdotal story.  Although funny, I think he spent too much time on this story and I didn’t really see the direct relevance of the anecdote to the thesis of his speech.  He also made a few slight errors, which I noticed, including: putting his hand in his pocket, a few inconsistent statements, and a few mixed messages about the political nature of this issue.


He lists 15 things that you can do to help us fight climate change.  Some of the things he mentioned were the following: reducing emissions in your home, reducing car emissions by buying a hybrid, using trains, and carpooling.  He talked about the importance of living a “carbon-neutral life” essentially by making a concerted effort to reduce your personal CO2 emissions.  He referenced the climate calculator to quantify your personal impact on carbon emissions and climate change.  He also urged his audience to consider making their businesses carbon-neutral by investing sustainably.  He inspires his audience to become a catalyst of change by becoming educated on the topic, talking about it, and spreading the message about climate change and what can be done to prevent it further.  He encourages his audience to make this a political issue and vote sustainably.  However, he ends the speech by asserting that climate change and CO2 emissions are not really a political issue but fundamentally a moral issue.  He ends the speech with the quote, “We are one.”  By this he is asserting that climate change is fundamentally a moral issue and that we should respect and preserve our planet and our environment for the well-being of our posterity. 


I liked several things about his talk.  First, I liked that he admits that the presentation is a true work in progress.  He says that he learns something new every time he gives the talk and he is constantly refreshing its content and images.  His strategy for this talk goes far beyond himself as well.  He teaches this presentation to many young people and trains them to deliver this talk and spread the message to as many people as possible.  I thought his use of visual aids, pictures, and hard data was very compelling and gave great strength to the arguments he was making.  I liked his ability to ask purposeful questions of the audience.  You can clearly see that this strategy allows him to better engage with the audience and help them to identify with his cause.  I also liked how repetitious he was and this strategy really drives home his main argument.  I would like to emulate these things for my next presentation. 


This talk definitely aligns with our feedback on presentations.  He is obviously a very talented and inspiring speaker.  He started with something engaging like a humorous story.  His arguments are straightforward and accessible.  His eye contact was superb.  Above all, his use of images and visual aids was very good.  He knew the topic inside and out and didn’t need any text to convey his thoughts.  Instead, he used the pictures and data as visual aids in talking about the topic and arguing his point of view. 


For the next presentation I am really going to be focusing on minimizing the text in my powerpoint and relying on visual aids to speak about my topic and argue my thesis.  I also want to work on eye contact.  Gore was very good at conveying emotion and using ‘ethos’ to argue his point of view.  I’d like to exhibit this kind of zeal, excitement, and passion for my topic as well so that my audience understands its importance. 



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