Why TED matters, why TED works

As I round out this month’s batch of TED speeches, I am reminded of what draws me to TED in the first place. Yes, the ideas are brilliant and worth sharing, but if they were delivered in the same way many meetings, lectures, and “workshops” are, their power would be diminished greatly. No one would listen.

Alex Rister wrote an awesome post introducing novice presenters to s0me basic best practices when working to create a presentation that is memorable and impacting. One suggestion Alex has is that presenters watch TED talks in addition to practicing as often and in as many ways as possible, to develop their delivery prowess:

Watch TED Talks to research the effective delivery techniques of master presenters.  Start with Benjamin Zander and Sir Ken Robinson.  Record yourself presenting and watch the playback.  Present in front of a mirror.  Present in front of family and friends before the big speech day. –Alex Rister

This is what sets TEDsters apart; one can tell they appreciate the wonderful moments of resonance they experience, and they want to create similar moments of their own.  TEDsters practice because other TEDsters practiced before them. Practice is essential–even when you know your message, you live it, you are it. Practice is key. This is one primary purpose of making TED such a big part of the classroom experience. Students are inspired to know there is a forum for world-changing ideas out there that is not driven by money, power, or a select few.

Instead, TEDsters follow a set of commandments; I believe these are ideas we can all live by as presenters:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
  2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.

I round out my TED experience this month with three talks: Lauren Zalaznick, who embodies the second TED commandment by claiming that television has a social conscience, that it serves as a sort of barometer for social morality; Paul Nicklen, whose moving and raw fascination with the arctic fully fulfills commandment number six; and Charlie Todd, whose study of absurdity as a necessary human experience is a truly remarkable example of commandment three–the commandment that holds TED and TEDx and TED Prize, and TED Fellows, and the millions of us TEDsters together–reveal thy curiosity and passion.

Lauren Zalaznick: The conscience of television

Think TV is just a dismissible “boob tube”? Think again. Zalaznick gives props to Hans Rosling and using moving, living data to show our movement as a society from moral certainty to ambiguity, our shift from comfort to irreverence and social commentary.

Paul Nicklen: Tales of ice-bound wonderlands

I am a big crier, so it’s no surprise that Nicklen’s love of the arctic, but more than that his love of untouched nature, has me in tears by minute two. Nicklen combines completely immersive imagery, music, storytelling, and raw emotion in a TED talk that truly fulfills the spirit of TED–ideas worth spreading. The big idea: we are quickly losing the species we take for granted as a part of our cultural collective, and it’s the disappearing ice, the result of our actions, that is erasing these wonderlands.

Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity

The kinds of things Charlie Todd does make me nervous. I find the idea of being uncomfortable in public to be…well, uncomfortable. However, I love Todd’s sense of play, his use of absurdity to help us feel comfortable with discomfort. As Todd says, there no right or wrong way to play. Play is a forgotten element in many “formal” presentations, but play is what often keeps your audience motivated enough to listen to the end!

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One thought on “Why TED matters, why TED works

  1. […] will continue to be a staple of how we discuss delivery in PCP. I’ve talked about the TED commandments before; these are the ten unofficial rules all TEDsters follow and their purpose is to help […]

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