Ted Talk Analysis by Martina Parson

Before I present the Ted Talks I chose and my analysis, I want to say that I have never watched a Ted Talk before. I wasn't even really sure what that is. Spending this past week scrolling and clicking through the over 2400 different videos made me realize how much I have missed out. Here are the 3 presentations I found most interesting, intriguing and inspiring.

Ted Talk #1 - Lidia Yuknavitch: The beauty of being a misfit

"Even at the moment of your failure, you are beautiful..."

Lidia Yuknavitch talks about being a life-long misfit and why we are beautiful despite our failures.

When she says "Let me tell you a misfit story" it's not someone else's or made up, it's about herself. She doesn't hide her emotions either when she talks about her struggles. It makes me think about the difficult times in my life and the things I’ve been through.

It’s like she’s talking to a friend and not a room full of people she’s never met before, because she interacts with the audience. She pauses and looks around the room to make words really sink in. It gives the audience a moment to empathize. She elevates the mood with the occasional joke.

She brings out so many emotions in me. I laugh with her, when she shoved "a menu down her pants", I'm sad when she talks about losing her baby and how she spent the following months in a state of grief and I feel optimistic about the future when she turns directly to the audience and delivers her heartfelt message at the end.

Lidia Yuknavitch's presentation didn’t require any props or visuals to keep me interested in her story. While it is inspiring by itself, I don't think a written article would've been able to catch the roller coaster of emotions Lidia puts her audience through. The presentation motivated me to follow my dreams, despite being a misfit myself.

Ted Talk #2 - Dan Bell: Inside America's dead shopping malls

"When they first asked me to do this talk, I said, "Do you have the right person?"

Dan Bell talks about his short-film series on YouTube called “The Dead Mall Series” and what inspired him to create again.

He introduces the audience to his presentation by telling the story of his teenage years at the local mall and how the closing of that mall inspired him to produce his films. To better explain what exactly a "dead mall" is, he shows a clip of the inside of an abandoned mall.

Dan Bell is very easy going and makes the audience laugh throughout the presentation. He does so by telling a few jokes and even sings the jingle of a commercial. When he talks about a stock photo that is used to cover a closed gate, he acts it out and poses. This of course makes the audience laugh again, but also helps envision what that stock photo looked like. He seems a little nervous and stumbles over his words a few times but uses his cue-cards to find his way back.

He plays another clip and shows a few more pictures, then introduces a genre of electronic music, called Vaporwave. Once again, after explaining what it is, he shows the audience a clip as an example. Dan Bell rounds off his presentation by saying a few words of gratitude and recognizing that this wasn't the usual inspiring TedTalk.

This presentation was really fun to watch. He seemed a little nervous but his great sense of humor made me overlook that. While I'm not inspired to go out and film abandoned malls now, I will definitely check out his videos on YouTube.

Ted Talk #3 - Romina Libster: The power of herd immunity

"Vaccination is an act of individual responsibility, but it has a huge collective impact."

Argentinian researcher Romina Libster talks about diseases and why herd immunity is the best way to protect the population.

She opens her presentation with the story of one of her first patients named Sol, who was a month-old baby that unfortunately contracted and died of whopping cough.

To explain what happens when no one is vaccinated and in contrast what happens with herd immunity, she shows two different slides. This really visualizes what happens when the community doesn’t protect itself. She also reminds the audience that the people shown are not hypothetical but people who are close to us and who we want to protect. So she uses scientific facts but makes them identifiable.

Romina Libster uses two real-life examples of disease outbreaks to further support her statements. When she speaks about a news article that caused many people to stop vaccinating against MMR she presents that article. To emphasize that in fact, that article was fraudulent and later retracted, she now displays it with a big, red “retraction” sign. She underlines important facts by pausing and repeating them.

The audience is called to action when she ends her presentation by saying that getting vaccinated is not only a personal responsibility but the responsibility of the community and how Sol could’ve been saved.

I’m a first time mom and the topic of vaccination is a big one for me. I do a lot of research on this myself, therefor I just had to watch this presentation. What made it effective was that Romina Libster doesn’t just offer scientific facts but explains them and offers real-life examples. She doesn’t just claim, she supports her statements. By telling the story of Sol and how it could’ve been prevented she causes the audience to think and hopefully also act and get vaccinated.

10 Qualities &Techniques

#1 Bring a presentation to life with visuals and sound

Dan Bell shows examples of his work with photos, videos and music.

Romina Libster uses her slides to better explain what herd immunity is and what it does.

#2 turn a speech into a conversation

The speakers ask the audience questions that make them feel part of the presentation, which draws them in.

Dan Bell sings the jingle of a commercial and asks "You remember that?" and Lidia Yuknavitch says “Ask me how fancy” when she talks about the fancy restaurants she went to in New York.

#3 benefit the audience with Information

Romina Libster uses this technique by not just stating scientific facts but explaining them. She didn't tell the audience to go do something because she said so, she explained why it was important. With educating the audience, they can make informed decisions.

#4 Use humor to break the ice

Lidia Yuknavitch talks about serious topics but cracks a few jokes in between to uplift the mood, e.g. she talks about her incarceration, drug abuse and abusive childhood but then adds “So I’m on the right stage”.

Dan Bell cracks jokes all the way through his presentation. “When they first asked me to do this talk, I said, "Do you have the right person?" is just one of them.

#5 Connect with the audience and elicit emotion

Romina Libster tells the story of her month-old patient so the audience can identify with the subject on an emotional level. The audience can't help but feel sad that Sol's death could have been prevented.

Lidia Yuknavitch talks about her personal struggles and failures which connects her to the audience, because everyone has their struggles. She also inspires them to be hopeful when she talks about her success.

#6 Deliver the message loud and clearly

Lidia Yuknavitch and Romina Libster both do this after an important part in their presentation. They pause for a few seconds, look around the room and give the audience time to think about what was just said. Romina Libster also repeats certain information to underline the importance.

#7 Use body language to support the speech

Dan Bell uses this to visualize the poster that was draped around a closed gate “And it's got a stock photo of a woman who is so happy and she's holding a blouse, and she's like –“ that’s when Dan Bell smiles and poses like he’s holding up a blouse.

Lidia Yuknavitch points at fellow “misfits” in the room in the beginning and her throat when she talks about her “sad stone”.

#8 Inspire to think and/or act

Lidia Yuknavitch inspires with her whole speech but when she says at the end “Your story deserves to be heard, because you […] are the only one in the room who can tell the story the way only you would.” she inspires the audience to tell their own story whether by writing a book or creating art.

Romina Libster encourages the audience to get vaccinated to not only protect themselves but their community.

#9 show emotions, enthusiasm and excitement

When Lidia Yuknavitch talks about her stillborn baby she doesn’t hide her sadness, you can almost hear her voice crack for a moment.

Dan Bell shows his excitement with saying “I love that so much.” after showing a location that was used in his favorite movie “The Legend of Billie Jean”.

#10 give the presentation structure

Whether it's a story or a factual presentation, it needs a clear beginning, middle and end. An open ending, for example, would leave the audience confused.

Dan Bell started with the reason why he produced his short-films, how he does it and then rounded it off with a few words of appreciation.


Title image from elearningmind.com Speaker images from ted.com

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