This TED talk ranks among the best I have ever seen. Sir Ken Robinson speaks about an important topic with humour and conviction. His message is bolstered with stories, metaphors, quotes, and a smidge of data. He is uncommonly calm, pleasantly conversational, and remarkably engaging. Find out how he earns a standing ovation and prepare to laugh out loud while you rethink your views on creativity.
0:35 He’s not in a rush to dive into his content. His demeanor is calm, and he is physically composed.
0:50 He synthesizes themes from previous talks by others and links them to his, showing he’s listening; he’s comfortable (not script-bound), and he will be relevant.
1:28 Uses self-deprecating humour delivered as an ad lib: “Actually, you’re not often at dinner parties.”
2:13 Establishes why the topic is important to the audience: “…it’s education that’s meant to take us into the future that we can’t grasp.”
3:07 He speaks with conviction: “All kids have talents, and we squander them.”
3:32 He responds to the audience’s response, creating an interplay which is rare and refreshing.
3:48 Two stories support an upcoming argument. The first story uses dialogue: “But nobody knows what God looks like,” which allows for a more animated use of his voice and a more colourful story.
4:45 Notice how settled his eye contact is. His eyes aren’t sweeping or darting around the room; they are connected to one audience member for a meaningful period before he looks at someone else. This combined with his measured pace contributes to his presence of calm and comfort.
5:33 Look at his raised eyebrows. He’s having fun and so is the audience, thus creating a feedback loop: He’s playful, they laugh, and he’s motivated to ad lib more.
5:55 He underscores his point with forceful gestures and repetition.
6:20 He quotes Picasso to support the credibility of his argument about kids and creativity.
6:54 A rhetorical question engages the audience: “Are you struck by a new thought?”
7:30 Builds layers of humour onto the idea that Shakespeare was once a child: one set-up, multiple jokes.
8:24 Says the unexpected, which is engaging and funny: “And we were rather pleased about that, frankly.”
11:33 He enumerates his points, adding clarity, visual reinforcement (hands), and subtly contributes to his authority. He does this again in a couple of minutes.
12:27 Striking statistic from UNESCO. Note: This is the only statistic he uses.
13:54 References Helen. It’s easy to reference the well-known speakers such as Al Gore. But he heard Helen, remembered her message and her name¾none of this prompted by notes. Referencing previous speakers is a great way to catalyze a relationship with an audience and endear them to you when you are a speaker.
14:30 More self-deprecating humour, amplified by the contrast between what he was making and his requisite cooking conditions.
15:12 Casually references his book. At this stage, the audience will likely like him, find value in his ideas, and might be inclined to buy his book. I certainly will.
15:29 He uses a story about Gillian Lynne to buttress his argument. It’s the desirable results, or what she accomplished, that make the vignette compelling. Would you be happy if your child entertained millions and made millions? Check and check.
15:35 “As you can see.” Cutting self-deprecation (he has polio, which also explains why he hasn’t moved since his entrance).
18:30 Uses a quote to set up his close, then links what TED celebrates back to his argument; i.e., if you buy into TED, then you’ve bought my argument.
19:06 Employs parallel construction: “…seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are.”
19:23 Well deserved.
Please forward The Joy of Presenting to anyone you think might be interested.