Saturday, September 29, 2012

Netanyahu Channels Tufte at United Nations

This is not a political blog, and I don't intend for this to be a political post.

I recently watched Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the United Nations on Thursday. I watched it because I am worried about Iran's nuclear weapons program and the Iranian security situation, to be sure.

However, what really intrigued me was the red line he actually drew on a diagram, in front of the United Nations. In the video I linked, it takes place at approximately the 26 minute mark. The screen capture at left shows this event.

The reason this caught my attention was that it reminded me of the Best Single Day Class Ever, taught by Edward Tufte. I attended his class in 2008 and continue to recommend it.

I've since blogged about Tufte on several occasions.

Netanyahu's action, to me, seems like pure Tufte. The primary goal of his speech was to tell Iran, and the world, that Israel is setting a "red line" involving Iran's nuclear weapons program. To show that, he literally drew a red line on a diagram representing Iranian progress on uranium enrichment.

Now, there's some confusion about what that red line really means. The point is that people are talking about the red line, and that means Netanyahu at least partially achieved his goal.

This is the take-away for those of us who speak in public: rather than develop Yet Another PowerPoint presentation, determine 1) what message you want your audience to remember, and then 2) figure out how you can escape from flat land to grab your audience's attention.

If you want to learn more about these techniques, take Tufte's course!

You can read a transcript of the speech as well as see the video. Besides the red line segment, I thought it was a powerful speech. I'm convinced that unless Iran changes course, Israel will disable Iran's uranium enrichment capability.

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