Improvement suggestion for Elon Musk’s Powerwall presentation

Last week Elon Musk launched the Tesla Powerwall, in what one hardened observer called “the best tech keynote I’ve ever seen.”

In doing so Musk was laying out a vision of his new product: what it was, why we should care, and why and how we should share his vision.

Chapter 6 of inner leadership describes seven key building blocks for defining an inspiring vision.

Did Elon use all these blocks? And did he say anything that Chapter 6 misses out?

SECTION OF THE PRESENTATION:BUILDING BLOCK:
First ten seconds: stirring music, lights, a stage, a screen3: Make it relevant for your audience.
Uses the standard format for a 'tech announcement'
Next 15 seconds: Musk arrives, nods, puts hands in pockets, laughs:
"Alright. Welcome everyone, to basically the announcement of Tesla Energy. So what I'm going to talk about tonight is about a fundamental transformation of how the world works: about how energy is delivered in, in the... across the earth"
1: Speak with your own authentic voice.
Throughout the presentation he is relaxed, joking, and informal.
"This is how it is today: it's pretty bad.... "
Combines "It sucks" with the Keeling Curve showing the growth in atmospheric CO2.
2: Describe the reality of the current situation.
In ways that different audience members will understand (3).
"I think we collectively should do something about this. And not try to win the Darwin Award. For us and a lot of other creatures too."5: Relate your message to a higher principle, value, or ideal.
"The way the grid works today... peak usage is typically at least twice the trough usage."2: Describe the reality of the current situation.
"The solution is in two parts: Part 1, The Sun. This handy fusion reactor in the sky, you don't have to do anything -- it just works. Shows up every day and produces ridiculous amounts of power... "6: Define clearly the future state you want instead of the current situation.
(Plus (1) in your own authentic voice, and (3) in ways the audience will understand.
Space solar power is completely unnecessary.
The land needed to completely get the United States off fossil fuels is "very little": that blue square, and most of that is going to be on rooftops.
6: Define clearly the future state you want instead of the current situation, in his own authentic voice (1), in ways his audience members will understand (3).
"The obvious problem with solar power is that the sun does not shine at night...
So in the blue square is a red pixel, which is the size of the batteries needed to transition the whole of the United States to solar with batteries. It is a Very Tiny Amount. One pixel."
6: Define clearly the future state you want instead of the current situation, in his own authentic voice (1), in ways his audience members will understand (3).
"The issue with existing batteries is that they suck."2: Describe the reality of the current situation, in ways his audience members will understand (3).
"We have to come up with a solution. [A battery that just works.] That's the missing piece." Animated film of the new battery, examples on the back wall of the theatre.7: Define first steps, with (3) "relevant for your audience", using the standard format for a tech announcement.
Lists key technical facts, customer benefits, and price.6: Define clearly the future state, (3) in ways that are relevant for your audience.
You can order the Powerwall on the website now and we are going to start shipping in 3-4 months. Next year the [rate of production] will go much faster. For larger scales the Powerpack is designed to scale infinitely.
Demonstration that the building the presentation is being held in is being powered by batteries, charged from panels on the roof.
7: Define first steps (and show that they are possible).
What is needed to transition the world to sustainable energy? Is this actually possible?
Two billion Powerpacks would transition all electricity, transportation, and heating. This is the same as the number of cars and trucks on the road. We have done things like this before.
5: Relate your message to a higher principle, value, or ideal.
7: Define first steps (and show that they are possible).
Building Gigafactories as a product, that many other companies will also build their versions of. Tesla is open-sourcing its patents for the batteries and for the gigafactory. We want to show people most importantly that this is possible.6: Define clearly the future state.
7: Define first steps (and show that they are possible).
And it's the only path that I know that can do this. And it's something that we must do and we can do and we will do.4: Let people make up their own minds, but make sure they choose.
Thank you all for coming tonight and I hope you had a great time. Thanks.1: Speak with your own authentic voice.

Using Chapter 6 as a checklist, it seems that all the building blocks are there.

But the weakest (and arguably missing) block in my view is that Musk doesn’t really push the audience to decide whether they want to buy-in to his vision or not. So I expect take-up will be less than it might have been if he had emphasised this more.

When he says, “It’s something that we must do and we can do and we will do” the message he gives is, “This is going to happen, whether you do something or not.” He doesn’t really push the audience to decide whether they are going to join his vision or not.

If I were to make one recommendation for improving Elon’s presentation it would be to strengthen not the “call to action” in the audience but the call to take a decision. To decide in their own minds whether they support this initiative or not. Perhaps by asking a question:

“Can you see a better way forward? I can’t. And if you can’t either, then join us. Help to make this vision a reality, now.”

Time will tell how quickly Tesla’s batteries take off, but Amazon Web Services are already working on a 4.8 megawatt-hour pilot for their western US data centre region, and as Musk says, one energy utility already wants to build a 250MWh installation.

In the meantime, you might like to use the seven building blocks to create a vision of something you want to achieve in your life: for inspiring yourself and others.


Having centred and grounded, identified your options, and chosen the one that is right for you, inner leadership shows you how to build that into an inspiring vision using these seven building blocks:

  1. Speak with your own authentic voice.
  2. Describe the reality of the current situation.
  3. Make it relevant for your audience.
  4. Let people make up their own minds, but make sure they choose.
  5. Relate your message to a higher principle, value, or ideal.
  6. Define clearly the future state you want instead of the current situation.
  7. Define first steps (and show that they are possible).

Chapter 6 gives more details on each one.

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One Reply to “Improvement suggestion for Elon Musk’s Powerwall presentation”

  1. He needs to work with a speaking coach…like my company offers. POWERFUL MESSAGES REQUIRE POWERFUL PEOPLE DELIVERING THEM
    which he is, but does not appear that way contact me and I will share how

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