Jorge Manrubia

January 18, 2023

The best presenter ever


I learned about Benjamin Zander in 2011. I was reading Resonate by Nancy Duarte, and she used his Ted Talk from 2008 as a case study in one of the chapters, to illustrate several concepts on how to deliver presentations. Nancy Duarte knows one thing or two about presenting, so her description of him as a "master communicator" caught my attention. I recommend you watch the presentation if you haven't.

I have watched that talk several times over the years. It makes me feel good. I find it entertaining, educative, and touching. His premise – recurring in his presentations – is that anyone can understand and appreciate classical music. I would identify myself as tone-deaf – something Benjamin says doesn't exist – so that message resonated with me, it sounded hopeful.

I didn't take action for many years, but I watched several more presentations by him. Something he always tries to show is the connection between emotions and music. For example, in this video he observes a great pianist perform and tries to coach her by talking about emotions and about what the original composer intended. In this other video, he does the same with a master violinist. As a totally ignorant person, I won't pretend I appreciate everything going there at the musical level, but I find the whole process both fascinating and mesmerizing. 

The thing I love the most about his presentations is his contagious optimism. Humans are emotional magnets, and Benjamin's vibes are fantastic, so it's a pleasure exposing yourself to those. He describes his mindset as the art of possibility – which is, in his words, quite different from positive thinking. I recently learned that he co-authored a book with that same title, which is now next in my reading queue.

I'm currently enjoying a sabbatical month at work. This looked like an excellent opportunity to scratch the itch I've had for years, so I got myself a digital piano, and I'm starting to learn how to play it. No idea how this will end, but I am doing it because of these presentations, so thanks, Benjamin.

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About Jorge Manrubia

A programmer who writes about software development and many other topics. I work at 37signals.