Rourke Training

Rourke Training

This week’s post is inspired by the upcoming 25th anniversary of the fantastic teen comedy, 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), directed by Gil Junger and starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. The movie is an update of Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew and is one of the standout Shakespeare adaptations of the 90s, along with Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado about Nothing (1993).

Not all adaptations hold up over time, but 10 Things I Hate About You continues to shine because of the way the movie cuts through both lead characters’ facades in order to truly see each other. Authenticity and embracing one’s real self is always relevant.

The Power of a Good Title

I’d argue that the movie’s title is a crucial element of its success, both at the time of its release and since. Yes, 10 Things I Hate About You is clever and catchy, but it also captures the pivotal plot moment in a way audiences still connect with.

The title resonates across several levels. Most directly, it’s a terrific wordplay riff on Shakespeare’s title that preserves its literary DNA while simultaneously signaling its up-to-date pop culture savviness. Translating the ethos of a late 16th-century play into the language of listicle-driven social media highlights the shifting cultural values and timeless relationship psychology at the heart of the story.

“10 Things I Hate about You” is also the (unstated) title of main character Kat’s poem about love interest Patrick, written for an English assignment and read aloud in class. The poem reveals a vulnerable side of Kat that she’s been protecting beneath an antisocial veneer throughout the first half of the movie. Actor Julia Stiles spontaneously cries as she recites the last line, even years later.

And that is the genius of Kat’s poem and why this movie is still so compelling. Like her character, the poem’s first half is all surface and bluster. It focuses on stereotypical elements about Patrick, the sort of things anyone could easily hate about someone else without particularly knowing them – their hair style and clothing choices, their driving. That hate is superficial and not particularly meaningful.

The poem’s major turn reflects Kat’s genuine feelings for Patrick as he gets around her defenses. The couple builds a real connection. Although it’s tumultuous in the ways of rom-coms everywhere, it’s also based on actually seeing each other for who they are. The poem’s last lines, “But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you / Not even close / Not even a little bit / Not even at all,” turns back to herself and shows the emotions she’d been hiding by deflecting them outward towards Patrick.

What Does This Have to do with Speaking and Training?

Your About Me slide is an opportunity to connect with your audience. You could stick with the surface and repeat information from your bio, probably info that your audience just heard from whomever introduced you and/or is already covered in the material you circulated before the event.

Or, you could use this standard slide in an unconventional way, as a tool to begin building trust and engagement with your audience. You might share a story connected to the topic of your speech or training event. You could show the audience something about yourself so they can put your approach to the subject into context. The About Me slide is probably one of the first things your audience sees as you begin, so use it to your best advantage.

So, then, with apologies to the movie . . .

10 Things I Hate (and 1 I Actually Don’t) about the About Me Slide … and What to do Instead

1. I hate the way you talk to me – Talk WITH your audience, not AT them.

2. And the way you cut your hair – Use a picture of yourself that you actually like. If you don’t have one, make it your mission to get one, whether formal or casual.

3. I hate the way you drive my car – Adjust your About Me slide to fit with the event or workshop rather than dropping the same slide into every presentation.

4. I hate it when you stare – If you’re using a photo of yourself, pick one that shows you in action rather than staring out at the audience in the standard “corporate professional” neutral posture and facial expression.

5. I hate your big dumb combat boots – Establish your authority with confidence rather than by stomping on others.

6. And the way you read my mind – Ask your event contact what your audience needs to know about you so you’re not repeating established context.

7. I hate the way you’re always right – Audiences generally don’t connect with perfection. Use the About Me slide to show a moment when you got it wrong, in a way that’s relevant to your topic.

8. I hate it when you lie – Never, ever, misrepresent your background or experience. (Not even a little bit. Not even at all).

9. I hate it when you make me laugh / Even worse when you make me cry – Connecting with your audience involves emotions and that’s fine, but don’t use emotions JUST to get a response. The emotions should make sense for your content. Be sure to provide breathing space, as well, so the audience isn’t overwhelmed.

10. I hate it when you’re not around / And the fact that you didn’t call – Use the About Me slide to display a QR code that leads to your contact information. Make it easy for your audience to follow up with you.

11. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you / Not even close / Not even a little bit / Not even at all – Like every part of public speaking and training, the more thoughtful you are about your choices, the more your audience will engage with the material.

Check Your Deck

This post is one in an occasional series called Check Your Deck. Check out the earlier posts on reviewing your deck from an accessibility perspective and on using a limited number of slides.

How About You?

How do you use the About Me slide to connect with your audience? What kinds of details invite the audience’s engagement? What kinds of information are dead weight for establishing that connection? What’s the biggest change you’ve made to your About Me slide, and how did it go?

Have you seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Do you agree that it holds up a generation later? What’s your favorite Shakespeare film adaptation? This is one of my favorites, partially because The Taming of the Shrew gets staged less often than some of Shakespeare’s other comedies. I’m forever torn between the luminosity of Branagh’s Much Ado (1993) and the alcohol-saturated environment of Joss Whedon’s version (2012), which somehow makes the ridiculous plot twists seem …. Reasonable, or at least plausible. Branagh’s Henry V (1989) remains an excellent war movie, and Joel Cohen’s the Tragedy of Macbeth (2021), starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, still haunts me.

Tell us about it in the comments.

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