I was fortunate to have a seat for the University of Toronto talk by Malcolm Gladwell last night. It was a packed auditorium!
I wasn't sure what to expect with Gladwell's talk, never having heard him speak before, even on TV or radio. My friends and I were not disappointed: his speaking voice is much the same as the voice used in his writing. As in his books Blink! and The Tipping Point, his story-telling skills are strong. He is very good at giving anecdotal examples to make his point and allowing his audience to apply the underlying argument to their own situations.
Particularly entertaining was the question-and-answer period, with the professor who said she didn't like him initially because he was writing in her field and was so popular, but who changed her mind upon hearing him, and the woman who asked why he didn't cut his hair.
Since the talk was held at the University of Toronto, the audience seemed to be an eclectic mix of the general public and academia ("Oh yeah, I forgot we're here at the University!"). There were the hard-core fans who have read everything he has written, and those who had just heard him on the radio that week and were intrigued. I fall somewhere in the middle, having read his two books and made others read it.
If you happen to have the opportunity to attend one of his talks, do attend. And do read his books!