Elon Musk as a Speaker....what do you think?

Elon Musk as a Speaker....what do you think?

I'm not sure how to say this delicately, but will do so because I think it is critical: I think Elon needs to continue to work on his presentation skills. These Telsa events (opening the plant, Model X reveal, etc.) are all critical moments for the company - each being documented on YouTube and played over and over again.

Steve Jobs was obviously the master of the reveal and presenting, but as breezy and carefree as his style appeared to be ("One more thing..."), it was in fact something he worked at exhaustively....I'm not asking Elon to be Steve Jobs, but I am saying that I think it is critical that he finds a style that works for him, hones his delivery and gets every drop out of these events as he can. By the way, I've been fortunate enough to work with Google's CEO and today he is considered by many to be a great speaker - I agree, I think he is incredibly clear and concise and inspiring; he wasn't always, but he knew it was something he had to work on...

What does everyone else think?

ps - I am huge fan of Elon's and each of his companies, so take this as my constructive opinion.

joesontesla | March 8, 2012

Elon's believes in what he does this is the key i think he will succeed. I believe in him too, i will stand up util ice car become a relic.

MatthewB | March 8, 2012

i think his presentation skills are fine. it's elon musk, he's already proven himself. when he speaks people listen.

My5bAby | March 8, 2012

With all due respect,

While I think your observation is technically correct, it is nevertheless irrelevant.

In my Opinion, the reality is, all he has to do is somehow let us know what the performance specifications of the car are. The sales people will do the rest, but even their words are relatively unimportant. The car is in a class of it's own. All it has to do is work as advertised. If it works, it will sell. If it doesn't, it won't. It's not like GM, Volvo, BMW or Mercedes has a car with similar specifications and Elon is trying to get us to purchase his over theirs.

1. I want Elon 100% focused on making the car work.
2. I honestly think his quirky enthusiasm plays well.

He is like a child so excited about something they have created that he can hardly get the words out. This emotion is infectious, and I would not change a thing.


Beaker | March 8, 2012

@My5bAby +1

I agree, it's because he's excited and unpolished that his "style" works, and this "style" comes across as genuine, which makes both the excitement and message infectious.

Timo | March 8, 2012

@Beaker +1.

It is refreshing to see a person stutter some words and not be "a rockstar" at the stage. Elon looks natural.

I have had some experience about some...lets call them "lecturers" that acted in obviously fake enthusiasm about the subject in hand. In every case I got an urge to say something to drive that fake enthusiasm away. To crush it. Make them cry. Sometimes I even had chance to do that: Person that is marketing-type and not engineering type and gets confused when you tell him that the product they are marketing doesn't do what he just said it would do. Ask "difficult" questions to get them baffled. Get them to contradict themselves. That's fun.

I don't get that urge with Elon presentations.

Vawlkus | March 9, 2012

Elon is doing alright, but there's always room for improvement.

The way he can over emphasize thing can grate a little, but that's minor. Something that does bother me a bit is he'll ask a question, start to provide the answer, then go off in a bit of a random direction. What he's saying is still interesting, but I usually can't see the connection, and I get miffed that the question that Elon himself asked doesn't get answered. I dunno, maybe he gets flustered. I know I would :P

The Froq | March 9, 2012

I..UH....think....uh, yeah....think....UH Elon is great.

Look at what this man has done in his live....CUT THE CREP!

Brian H | March 9, 2012

When/if TM begins to "market", I think a lot of that "Um, yeah, yeah, ..." answering himself in his own hyperdrive thoughtstream will likely have to go. I sometimes get the impression he's trying to lay down the anchor points of a hologram he sees and is trying to evoke it, and is frustrated that he can't use telepathy.


Timo | March 10, 2012

I have sometimes same problem. Mind works so much faster than mouth that you need to really concentrate to what you are saying, otherwise you end up saying begin of the sentence and end of sentence and leave everything between out. If Elon mind works same way mine does also words are sometimes just in way of thinking and you just plain can't put your thoughts to words. I call that "concept thinking". Telepathy would be useful.

It makes me very poor performer. Unfortunately people also sometimes mix that with stupidity. That's like calling Stephen Hawking stupid because he can't talk properly. Just like Froq says, who cares if he talks funny. He is one of the few people around the word that most recognize, not because of what he says but what he has done.

Cattledog | March 20, 2012

I hope he doesn't change a thing. There's an earnestness and excitement about what he's doing that makes his presentation so endearing. When I watch the X launch event, Revenge of the Electric Car, and the 60 minutes segment on Space X, I am really in awe. In many ways he's just a normal guy with more vision, courage, and leadership than just about anyone alive. So inspiring...

xhawk1011 | March 28, 2012

Elon is fantastic as is. Genuine, Brilliant, inspirational.

Larry Chanin | March 28, 2012

I enjoy Elon's unpolished boyish style. He comes across as very genuine and spontaneous.


Brian H | March 29, 2012

Yeah, you know the old grifter's motto: "Once you can fake sincerity, all the rest is easy!"


Michael S | September 3, 2012

Elon Musk, while smart and passionate, is not a good public speaker. I was at the big Model S Factory tour last October and no one could hear a thing. Also, his presentation (what I could hear) was not organized. Same thing (not as bad) at the Model X show in Hawthorne. We can't all be Steve Jobs. But I do think a speach coach wouldn't hurt.

Just one man's opinion....

Timo | September 3, 2012

I like the way Elon speaks, it feels natural with all the small flaws. Those that have been trained to talk hit me as artificial and bad speakers, usually with insincere happiness and "enthusiasm". I usually immediately start to hate them, probably because that is yelling to me "you can't trust that person" before I have even heard what they are saying.

Best talker into world IMO is Stephen Hawking.

jerry3 | September 3, 2012


Agreed. A facility with clever talk and phrases does not convey honesty--after all, that's what makes a good actor.

jonbones | September 8, 2013

I hear what you're saying, that his presentation lacks polish and that his stuttering can be taken as uncertainty or lacking confidence but that doesn't last long once you learn of his accomplishments and then the first impressions don't mean as much.

As some of the others here have said, Elon Musk is genuine, non-pretentious, humble... you compared him to Steve Jobs, whom I also admire but Steve was a salesman, even an opportunist, he took great ideas from others and packaged it well. Wozniak was the brain, I think Elon is a mix of both of them and that's a very powerful combination.

Ouija | September 8, 2013

While I agree he could use a membership in a local Toastmaster's club, I find him to be totally charming.

jonbones | September 8, 2013

It would not surprise me if this was part of Elon Musk's master marketing plan. To give it a grassroots feel, this unpolished, garage band image that allows people to gravitate towards him and his mission, to spread the word and feel like they're part of the whole movement. Maybe he knows that's what the Green people like, the last thing you want to do is sound like a slick car salesman.

Timo | September 8, 2013

The little what I know about Musk-involved companies they all seem "garage band" type operations. If you followed NASA/SpaceX video for first Dragon flight to ISS, the difference between cold inhuman NASA mission control and SpaceX staff room was huge. It made me want to work for SpaceX just by looking at that enthusiasm and free group spirit.

I don't know how that reflects at real world, but keeping management light with staff that knows what they are doing and want to do what they are good at is key to success. Guide, not enforce.

Brian H | September 8, 2013

Elon's branding philosophy: "Make and sell superior stuff." End.

jonbones | September 10, 2013

@Timo, I agree, I'd love to work for a startup with dreams than riding on coattails of an established company. It makes you feel part of something big that will make a difference. When you see Elon having a female president for SpaceX, I'm not familiar with the Space industry but I would imagine it's quite rare, and an under 30 "Boss", it shows he's his management style to be unconventional, based more on ability, but as he said in an interview, you shouldn't hire based on CV alone but on the individual's heart. I'm guessing he's referring to Ebhart whom he's in legal battles with.

Another note is... I'm hoping we're not overestimating his abilities and Tesla, because of the lack of competition from the other giant automakers. Much has been said about the comparisons of Tesla vs the other EV's. The fact is the others don't wan't to make as opposed to aren't capable of making, so once they do decide to make compelling EV's (like the BMW i8) we'll see how Tesla can stand up against them. Regardless of the outcome Elon Musk has pushed the switch to EV's ahead and I believe that's all he has ever wanted to do.

bareyb | September 10, 2013

Watch "Megafactories-Tesla Model S". He's really great in that one. I saw the grand launch in Fremont and he did seem a bit nervous. Only human I guess, but all the other interviews I've seen have done nothing but inspire confidence in him. I have no problem getting on board with this guy. He's a winner and he works his ass off.

The best part is he doesn't kid himself, he knows what he can actually do and he finds a way to get it done. He hires the best people and gets them to share his vision. I'm betting on Tesla because of the guy at the Helm. Visionary leaders like this don't come along very often. I share his vision and I'm proud to be one of the first to support it. :)

Brian H | September 10, 2013

"Under 30"? He's 42. Babyface. ;)

DonS | September 11, 2013

I don't think he is a particularly polished speaker, but that is a good thing. His manner is thoughtful, concise, and sincere. I'll take that over a smooth talking politician any day.

GDH | September 12, 2013

Elon's hot, I could listen to him all day. Besides it's not his public speaking I care about it's his mind and the awesome things he is creating for this world.

jonbones | September 13, 2013

Elon is a Stark contrast to his Ironman character to say the least when it comes to speaking.

Homebrook | October 25, 2013

Doogue, I think you have hit the nail on the head and have expressed your point well. I like Elon Musk. I like his ideas and I like his approach to marketing (focus on substance and let the chips fall where they may), but I do believe his halting, inarticulate, and impromptu speaking style gets in the way. It would be far better if he spent some time working on his delivery. If he is effective now, just think about how more effective he could be.

aaquino22 | October 25, 2013

Elon is no eloquent orator. But the guy can get his message out just fine. He sounds more believing because he's just being him. I'd be nervous to speak in front of people too. The big thing is that he has the guts to go in front of thousands and speak about his company and vision. I'd take that over a smooth talker with a fake British who can bull shit his way through any speech.

EvaP | October 25, 2013

I find him absolutely endearing.

I can't believe that such a genius said in an interview that he decided to start his own company because he was too shy to ask for a job. When you listen to him, you know that he is telling the truth. He is still too shy. And absolutely charming at the same time.

I have a very good BS detector and normally can tell when somebody is just faking competence. This guy doesn't have to fake it. He IS competent. | October 29, 2013

Elon is not the most polished speaker, but I think it works for him--he comes across as authentic. He has interesting thoughts and done interesting things, so folks are willing to look beyond the the rough delivery. I would much listen to Elon stumble through something than listen to some slick presenter blather on about nothing.


jajabor | October 30, 2013

Well, Steve Jobs was one of a kind. I liked him and I like Elon just the way he is. He is very informal. Look at other CEOs...they are very polished speakers but you get bored after 1 minute.

rfderoubaix | January 12, 2015

I would like to engage with Mr. Musk (in his capacity as CEO of Tesla) as a speaker for an event on sustainable technologies in Qatar that we intend to host in Q3 or Q4 this year. How would I go about this?

buickguy | January 12, 2015

Elon has a style that I would not recommend he change. However, he has some delivery difficulties that need to be changed. I recommend Toastmasters. Here's an invitation to my Toastmaster club, TGIF Management right here in Sunnyvale:

Drop-ins welcome.

Red Sage ca us | January 12, 2015

Elon Musk, as a Speaker...

He strikes me as honest, sincere, dedicated, and very excited about the things he likes most.

He is extremely intelligent, very knowledgeable, and absolutely sharp on all subjects he can discuss openly.

He seems to do best when speaking one-on-one with a female interviewer. Next, he gets along well in a setting where he can speak to an audience of students. Because of that he would make a great lecturer, or educator, should he choose to take that path. He'd need really big classrooms though...

He has learned the hard way that there are those who are perfectly willing to misquote him, or paraphrase what he says, in order to falsely portray what he wants to communicate. As a result, he is now more guarded during interviews. He is no longer quite as open when being questioned, even by Tesla Enthusiasts.

There are far too many reporters who engage in the absolute worst form of 'journalism' and simply cannot be trusted. There are way too many analysts, pundits, and other talking heads who are apt to call everything he says an absolute lie simply because their puny intellect cannot understand what he says. There are sharks in the water who would love to get him to reveal things in an untoward fashion so that Tesla Motors might be brought up on charges by the SEC.