The Evolution of Mark Zuckerberg’s Public Speaking Style

 
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

 
 

Is Mark Zuckerberg an android? That question was on the minds of many when the Facebook CEO appeared in front of the US Congress last year to answer questions about the social media platform’s data sharing policies.

Mark’s performance in front of Congress was almost as troubling as the data mining scandal. His lack of human emotions—infrequent blinking, blank stares, the iconic sip of water—was fodder for memes that poked fun at the idea that Mark might not be as human as the rest of us.

We went back in time to test the theory of whether Mark has been replaced by a well-rendered hologram. We traced the evolution of Mark’s presentation skills, from his days of wearing hoodies to his current wardrobe of $400 grey t-shirts. By analyzing his filler words, pacing, and pitch variety, we followed how Mark’s comfort with speaking in front of human audiences has developed over time. 

Watch for yourself:

Here’s a breakdown of Mark’s trajectory as a public speaker:

2005

Facebook was only two years old when Mark was invited back to his alma mater to give a talk to students. In it, Mark uses a lot of filler words—in fact, he says “like” over 576 times in the hour. But you don’t need an exact count to realize that he’s unprepared and uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience. Instead of presenting with the self-assuredness of an inspiring or authoritative figure, he speaks as though he was asked to assemble a presentation on the spot just five minutes beforehand.

2008

Three years later, the variation of his vocal pitch brings the audience into his story. Changing the tone of his voice helps keep his audience engaged and in tune with his message. It seems like Mark received some tips to improve his public speaking skills. He’s certainly not saying “like” almost 600 times an hour, but there are some lingering “um”s that impede his message.

2018

In his Keynote presentation at Facebook’s F8 Conference, Mark’s well-timed enunciations and pitch variety show he’s prepared to speak in front of tens of thousands. A far cry from his humble beginnings at the front of a small lecture hall. Onstage, Mark commands his audience’s attention with confidence by maintaining level eye contact with the audience. Articulating his words with a practiced crispness, Mark seems to have learned the keys to effective public speaking.

It’s evident that Mark picked up effective public speaking skills over time. As the audiences for his speaking events grew, so, too, did his ability to communicate his message clearly. 

The positive trajectory of Mark’s progress was derailed by the Congress hearing. What gives? Whether Mark was replaced by a droid or simply recessed back into previous habits—jury’s out. 

Either way, we think Mark could benefit from our tips on speaking effectively to a tech-forward audience and easing the anxiety of speaking onstage so he’s more prepared the next time he’s in front of a large human audience.