If you still think a standard PowerPoint presentation or, worse, a C-Span-style speech from a written text is an acceptable level of public speaking, you obviously haven't been to a recent TED conference. I thought graphic design conferences had high production values, but these 18-minute talks set a new standard for polish and sophistication. (Speakers got advance help with their presentations from Duarte Design.) Fortunately, TED gave all attendees a copy of Nancy Duarte's slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Before my next talk, I'm going to have to study it.
TED's production standards did lead to a funny confrontation between curator Chris Anderson and Nobel laureate Kary Mullis, who dared to illustrate his three-minute talk with a data-heavy science-conference-style slide. Anderson informed Mullis that his slide was "not a good slide" (or maybe "not a TED slide"--I couldn't quite hear). "If you were a mouse with anthrax," Mullis shot back, "that would be a very important slide."