I’ve been just amazed lately at the caliber I see and interest I’ve had in some of the topics I watch from the TED Talks conferences.  One I watched lately was Robert Ballard on exploring the oceans and I was impressed to see what I thought was a wonderful demonstration of passion.  I love the topic of the video and the questions raised. It makes visible the ignorance humans have to something that is easily ignored right in front of us yet we desire exploration that is far more difficult, more dangerous and more costly by venturing into the expanse of space where our likeliness of discovering anything is dramatically less than that available right here in our oceans.  While that certainly deserves a topic and discussion on its own, I’ll leave that for you to ponder separate and bring things back to the topic of passion.

Ocean Exploration - TED Talks

Signs of Passion

Passion is extremely powerful in presentations as it helps to capture your audience and helps to communicate your message to them.  It reduces the chance of your audience being bored and ignoring or dismissing what you have to say.  The passion I saw in Robert’s presentation was not about the presentation images and content itself, but about HOW it was presented and what I could see watching it.  This passion was expressed in a variety of ways by Robert and they are worth noting as these can easily be used in your own presentations to convince and influence your audience.  The elements I saw specifically in this video were:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Movement
  • Love
  • Absorbed
  • Joy


Getting exciting, make your audience see that you are excited and enthusiastic about a topic.  This catches the audience’s attention.  There was some expression in his voice, pitch changes, volume changes as he touched on each subject.  You could tell how important his work was to him as he expressed literally, how exciting his explorations had been and how excited he was with new plans in place for new research.  Even the sheer number of expectations and years he has been doing this, you can tell he has great enthusiasm for his work.


Another important item to show passion in your presentations is to have lots of movement.  Movement across stage for one but also hand gestures and facial expressions.  These movements help to express things more as well as keep the audience more captivated, which is exactly what you want!


Love is something that is hard to see or recognize but I definitely believe that love is expressed when a strong passion is visible from a presenter.  Love for the topic at hand and anything that shows sacrifices made to have or achieve the topic of the presentation is an example of love.  The desire to share it with others and wanting to find others who love the same things is often expressed in a passionate presentation and this one was no exception.  Robert shows this when he highlights that a major focus is to involve the children in middle schools as well as universities to be involved with this research and exploration.  He wants to share it and see that the work continues and expands so that others can enjoy as much as he has.


Another key that I saw in this presentation that is often a sign of passion is how unaware Robert is of his surroundings and distractions.  This isn’t really the best speaking practice not to respond to the audience but it shows his passion when he continues with his message even when the audience gets loud and cheers or claps for him.  It doesn’t even seem to phase him as he just continued with his message oblivious to whether the audience could even hear him or not!  This can be a sign not only during the presentation but also in how a person lives their life.  Passion tend to lead people to ignore many other things that consume most people’s lives.  The daily distractions that bog many people down don’t affect people who are absorbed by their passion as they focus on only what really matters to them.


Joy might be close enough to love to be looking for the same signs but I find joy to be something that is continuous.  It isn’t a specific action or moment, its the feeling you get when hearing a person present or discussing things with them where you can see how happy it makes them just to talk about it.  All of these other passionate areas contribute to this as well and one clear sign is the shear amount of smiling and expression of feelings one has.  In the video above, the last several minutes are to me, an obvious display of absolutely joy with the work, joy with sharing it and joy with the thoughts about what is to come.  There are no reservations presented and every bit of Robert’s presentation is consistent and delivered in a joyful way.  His lasting smile that nothing could have wiped off his face when showing the impact this work has on children is testament to that.

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