In the previous post i spoke about the process of crafting this presentation, titled ‘Lost in Translation’ that i did last night for the Outliers ‘Step Up’ evening, and here is the talk itself:


Anyone who knows me well, knows that my default talk setting is long [51 minute wedding speech anyone?] and so short is a challenge. But i practised my talk and timed it twice on the day and both times came in at around 9 minutes, which gave me a whole minute to play with. Schweet.

[Side Note: While my wife, tbV, knew the overall vibe of what my talk was about and how it was going to go, i decided to keep this intro part secret from her so that she would have a surprise, and possibly some extra stress for a moment]

So i had my intro slide notes on my tablet, i had a set of 14 speech cue cards in my pocket which didn’t contain a word of my speech, except for the Title ‘Lost in Translation’ on the top one and then i wrote a story about why i had to put writing on the cue cards because i didn’t want people to see blank cards and think i was faking it [i told you – layers upon layers] and my actual talk notes in a notebook [upside down – so the audience would see that i was holding the book upside down when the notes were right way up]

As Heidi introduced me, i snuck in the line, “Because i only have ten minutes i don’t have time to introduce you to the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob and so i’ll just leave him here’ [thus covertly introducing him].

And then it was on to the slides…

10 Slides in 10 Minutes [in six languages and eight accents]


Sometimes we have in our hands the most powerful message ever for our audience to hear. And too often that doesn’t matter in the slightest. One of the organisers of this event asked me if I would do a presentation related to education and I felt completely out of my depth.

Then, having watched one of my Improv shows, she added: “Oh and it would be great if you could do each of the slides in a different accent.” Really, Heidi? You want me to do a serious talk using different accents? That is incredibly ridiculous and close to impossible… Challenge accepted.

The next eight slides are going to be quite possibly the most…. In-te-resting presentation you have ever seen. I want you to look attentively. I want you to listen carefully. Whatever is happening on the screen or from my mouth, do your best to pay attention and hopefully at the end it will all make some sort of sense. I was asked to do each slide in a different accent, but I thought I would try and go one better…

[At which point i made a comment that my tablet had frozen and said something about having to wing it. At which point tbV had a mild heart attack in her mind. But then i whipped out the speech cards i had prepared with an, “Or i could use these which i planned as back up just in case.”]

Ladies and Gentlemen i give to you, ‘Lost in Translation’ [And this was probably the only part of my talk i wish i could redo cos it didn’t work with the flourish i was hoping but as i was saying the words ‘Lost. In. Translation’ i was shaking my right hand which was holding the speech cards on the beat of the words and as i said “Translation” i let all the middle cards fly out of my hand and scatter all over the floor. The idea was good but in reality they all just landed pretty much in one place so could have been better but had a mini desired effect]

Then i pulled out my notepad, looked at it, turned it right way up [which to the audience then looked upside down] and went on with the presentation:


[In my best Australian accent and no, this does not make a lot of sense at all but is all genuine Australian slang apparently, which i played around with a little bit to make it flow nicely]

Oi mate.  I got the wog over the weekend. I would have to say that it would be considered a Fair-go if my Chalkie caught me away with the pixies and made me write up lines with my texters and I was thinking about Waggin it. Perhaps you should Dinkie-Di  with Av-a-go-yer-mug. Fair Dinkum. He’s got tickets on him. But at least e’s not a larrikin. Some might say A fair suck of the sav.


[Switch to Xhosa – thank you Nkosi]

Ngamanye amaxesha kungakhona unobangela woba abanye abantu abasegumbini bawuve umyalezo owunikezayo babe abanye bengakuva. Kwi lizwe apho kukho ilwimi ezilishumi elinanye ezisemthethweni. Kubayiyo ke inyhweba ukuba ubesegumbini apho umntu onikeza ngentetho ze alindeleke ukuba anikeze nfawo ntetho ngolwimi oluviwa nguwe nelilelakho. 

[Sometimes there might be a reason that some people in the room understand the message you are giving while others do not. In a country with eleven official languages, it is the height of privilege to be in a room where someone is giving a talk and expecting that talk to be in your first language.]

The Xhosa was probably the language i was most nervous about as i didn’t want to offend anyone but once i got started it felt like being an evangelist in a township church with a large number of the audience agreeing and nodding and it was so great knowing that the formerly marginalised community was in that moment empowered to receive an extra message just for them and the majority of white people were sitting there with no idea what was going on.

Because it was received so well, i decided to throw in some of my own isiXhosa at the end. So i apologised to the group [Uxolo nonke] and told them i was still learning [Ndisasifunda] and finished with a slower drawn out questioning ‘I am trying at least’ [Ndiyazama Noko] which would have been a mic. dropping moment if i hadn’t had another seven slides to go. But really loved how this section was received.


[Moving on to German which i literally shouted at the audience – thank you Ewald and with apologies for all the missing dots above letters – ]

Die Worte die wir benutzen sind oft genau die dinge, die Menschen Zuruckhalten, um die eigentliche Botschaft zu empfangen. Wenn wir Worter benutzen die zu direct oder zu technisch sind, oder wir zu fachbezogene Worter verwenden, dann konnen wir sehr leicht einen groBen Teil unserer Zuhorer ausklammern bevor diie Botschaft sie erreicht hat. Deshalb must du dir bewusst sein zu wem du sprichst, und was dein Ausgangspunkt ist. Wahrend ein kleiner Teil der Zuhorer verstehen moge was du sagen willst, und begeustert sein wird uber dein Wortwahl, das ersetzt night den Verlust dass so viele andere Zuhorer abgeschaltet sind.

[Often the words we use can be the thing that cuts people off from receiving the message. If we use language that is too specific or technical or jargon-filled then we are likely going to isolate a huge majority of our audience before our message even reaches them. Hence the importance of being aware of who you are speaking to and where is a good place to pitch your message. While a small number of people in the audience may understand what you are trying to say and probably be impressed by the way you have said it, that doesn’t make up for everything you lose by switching so many other people off. ]


[Next up was Spanish with thanks to Westley]

Usted podría incluso encontrar que es el sonido de su voz que puede distraer a la gente.

Esta diferencia que hace que se pierda lo que está tratando de decir.

Alguien que habla con un impedimento del habla podría luchar para no ser una fuente de distracción.

Alguien con una voz sexy hablando un lenguaje atractivo como éste podría traer sus propios obstáculos.

[You might even find that it’s the sound of your voice that can distract people.

This difference that causes them to miss out on what you are trying to say.

Someone who speaks with a speech impediment might struggle to not be a source of distraction.

Someone with a sexy voice speaking a sexy language like this one might bring their own obstructions.]


[Next up was a Chinese accent and the slide was so small that people could not read it and the volume was loud when it was CAPS and a whisper or nothing when it was the normal type]

VOLUME CAN BE A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF A PRESENTATION because if you CANNOT HEAR what the person is saying, or if you have to KEEP STRAINING TO HEAR because you might be CATCHING A WORD here and there or even just MISSING OCCASIONAL WORDS then the overall experience can become QUITE STRESSFUL and you are likely to find that a lot of people will JUST SWITCH OFF until you say SOMETHING THEY CAN HEAR.


[This is starting to feel a little Mambo Number 5 with a little bit of Dutch next, thanks Hanneke, and an appropriately upside down, back to front slide and an Einstein quote which reads: ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’]

Technologie kan een mooi versterkend middel zijn bij een goed gesprek of voor een presentatie. Maar als dingen mis gaan, kan dat enorm afleiden. Daarom is een goeie voorbereiding van cruciaal belang als je afhankelijk bent van techniek, anders kom je nog mooi op de koffie. Het kan ook wenselijk zijn om een back-up plan te hebben voor als de elektriciteit het laat afweten of een andere onverwachte gebeurtenis zich voordoet.

[Technology can be a great enhancement to a talk or presentation. But when things go wrong, it can really be a huge distraction as well. Thus is becomes more important when you are relying on technology to check every little thing beforehand to make sure it is not going to bite you in the butt. It may also be super helpful and wise to have a backup plan for if the electricity goes out or some other problem emerges.]


[This slide sadly came out quite dark and so while everyone could see the thing you want them to initially see, i’m not convinced everyone realised what was actually going on in the picture. Go on, give it another look, but while you are you might be missing out on the Afrikaans that Kari provided]

Somtyds sien jy iets wat jou oe uit jou kop uit laat skiet. Dit kan veroorsaak dat jy opstaan en weg loop. As jy bly sal jy miskien besluit om harde na die ding te kyk en dan besef jy dat die ding wat jy gedog jy’t gesien is nie waarlik wat jy gesien het nie. Dit is iets so heeltemal anders en onskuldig. Jy sal gelukkig wees dat jy gebly het. Maar terwyl dit alles gebeur het, miskien het jy heelwat gemis die meeste van wat die aanbieder vir jou wou gese het.

[Sometimes you see something that causes your eyes to almost pop out of your head. This may cause you to get up and leave. If you stay, you might decide to take a closer look and realise that the thing you thought you saw is not in fact what you saw. It is something so completely different and innocent. You will be glad you stayed. However, while all of that was happening you may have missed most of what the presenter was saying to you.]

[That’s a baby lying on that lady and it’s the baby’s feet. I mean, that’s what we all saw, right?]


[This was my original second last slide but i phoned Heidi on the day and got her to remove one of the ‘L’s and at least one person checked with me that i had noticed that, which means it did the trick. Thanks to Patrick for the French and for a Dummies Guide to French Pronounciation on the phone on the day of the presentation. And especially the phrase “police de la grammaire”]

Une chose qui peut ruiner une présentation est des fautes inutiles de grammaire ou de frappe. Elles peuvent devenir une distraction pour ceux qui regardent, surtout ceux du type « police de la grammaire ». Plus il y a de fautes, plus on est tenté de se déconcentrer du sujet présenté et de se concentrer plutôt sur les erreurs qu’on veut voir corrigées.

[One thing that can mess up a presentation is needless mistakes in grammar or typing. These can prove a distraction to those watching, especially those of the “Grammar Police” type. The more mistakes you have in your presentation, the more likely people are to zone out from your message and simply focus on the errors they want to see corrected.]

= = = = = = = = =

Before jumping to the last slide, i had this to say:

Which brings us to the last slide and what has this whole mess really been about? My last slide, and this whole presentation really, answers the question, ‘What is the greatest message in the world?’


You can have the greatest message in the world, but what is most important is the message that is received.

There are so many things that can come in the way of what you have prepared and what people walk away with – Language, Distraction, Volume, Technology, Word Usage, Context, the Physical Hunger of the audience, and more.

You can have the greatest message in the world, but what is most important is the message that is received. Held on to. Continued with. Learned. Embraced.

As educators and teachers we need to make sure that we spend sufficient time in our planning ensuring that the communication methods we choose and how we deliver them are going to be the most effective for the particular audience we have.

Otherwise you might find that your incredible message may well find itself, Lost. In. Translation.

[To return to the first part and the premise and planning of this presentation, click here]