Professor Richard Susskind knows about the future. So revered is he that the Lord Chief Justice once turned to him for advice about how IT could help speed up the wheels of justice. So who better to invite to address an august audience at the Royal Society of Arts on the subject of 'Tomorrow's Professions'?
For such a potentially complex subject, his message was simple: 'Adapt or die.' It's all part of his direct approach. With his mop of black curls, deep-set eyes and a Scots accent, he evokes shades of Chancellor Gordon Brown - scary! But he walks the talk. 'Extinction awaits professionals who fail to grasp new opportunities,' he says - and means it.
Impressively for one speaking on how IT will revolutionise even the fustiest of professions, his PowerPoint skills were pretty good - he used good pictures rather than text to illustrate key points. But his bullet points lapsed into prompting notes rather than real visual aids. Could do better.
His thrust was good, though. 'If Federal Express creates a web site for clients to track the progress of their parcels, why shouldn't law firms do the same?' asked the good professor. 'Clients could log on and track the progress of the latest litigation. Oh, and by the way, they should also be able to see just how much of a bill they have run up to date.' Susskind is clearly a heretic.
Key moment: Disintermediation faces those who fail to adapt. Insurance brokers already know this, as more consumers buy online and cut out the middle-man.
Key lesson: Don't cram in too much, it leads to gabbling at the end.
With the spoken word, time is not elastic. Cut words to fit the slot.
Silver tongue or foot in mouth?