Just listened to a great Planet Money episode in which Dr. Cecelia Conrad describes how she dealt with some horrible racist students in her class who were essentially questioning her credentials. She got the advice from a senior professor to be less clear in her intro class:
This snippet reminded me of some advice I got from my postdoc advisor about giving talks: "You don't want everything to be clear. You should have at least some part of it that is confusing." This advice has really stuck with me through the years, and I have continued to puzzle over it for a long time. Like, it should all be clear, no? I always felt like the measure of success for a presentation should on some level be a monotonically increasing function of its clarity.
But… for a while before the pandemic, I was doing this QR code thing to get feedback after my talks on both degree of clarity and degree of inspiration, and I have to say I feel like I noticed some slight anti-correlation: when I gave a super clear talk, it was seemingly less inspiring, but when I got lower marks for clarity, it was somehow more inspiring. Huh.
Nancy Duarte makes the point that in any presentation, the audience is the hero, and you as the presenter are more like Yoda, the sage who leads the audience on their heroic adventure. Perhaps it is not for nothing that Yoda speaks in wise-seeming syntactically mixed-up babble. Perhaps you have to assert credentials and intellectual dominance at some point in order to inspire your audience? Thoughts on how best to accomplish that goal?