TEDspirations - Lessons from 42 most popular TED talks


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In the first five days of 2014, I ran an experiment. I aimed to watch 50 TED talks in 5 days. In the end, I watched 42, and put together this deck with insights on presentations, telling stories, and just life.

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TEDspirations - Lessons from 42 most popular TED talks

  1. 1. 42 TED Talks Lessons. Insights. Inspiration. Jan 1-5, 2014
  2. 2. The Experiment Hi, I’m Shashank Nigam - I love aviation, cricket, traveling and spending good time with family & friends. I was born in Delhi, grew up in Singapore and now live with my wife in Ottawa, Canada. ! As 2013 ended, I thought, why not do something completely different that gives me happiness and inspires me. ! I aimed to watch 50 TED talks in the first 5 days of 2014. The plan evolved a little as I decided to spend some time documenting my learnings, then sharing it with the world too.
  3. 3. What I watched ! In the end, I watched 42 talks, and gleaned insights on key learnings, stories and presentation ideas. And I was inspired. I watched every single one of the Top 10 most viewed TED Talks (trying to learn how they got so many views), 6 talks on storytelling (to become better myself), 9 talks on Design (since it’s a topic I’ve always been interested in, but never explored much), 10 talks that were less than 10 minutes (to learn the art of conciseness) and many more on a variety of other topics.
  4. 4. My Favourite Talks ! I’ve been asked by friends and family to share those talks that I found the most interesting, so here are my Top 5. 1. Simon Sinek - The Golden Circle 2. Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story 3. Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight 4. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter 5. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work
  5. 5. The Learnings ! While the details of every single TED talk are embedded in this deck, I’ve highlighted trends on what makes a great presentation in the following slides. Some of my key learnings were about life - to be happy, you need to spend some good time with family, try new things (and don’t worry about the weather - it doesn't matter!). ! I also learnt that a good presentation should be about the audience, must include personal stories (no matter how dry the subject) and should inspire action.
  6. 6. What makes for a great presentation?
  7. 7. What makes for a great presentation? Personal Experiences Audience action Props Video No slides Mimicry
  8. 8. What great presentations have in common?
  9. 9. “The conscious mind is like the man on the elephant that is the subconscious mind. The man thinks he can tell the elephant what to do, but the elephant really has ideas of his own.” The image I can’t get out of my head…
  10. 10. 42 TED Talks In-depth Lessons. Insights. Inspiration. Jan 1-5, 2014
  11. 11. Boyd Varty: What I learned from Nelson Mandela 1. Ubuntu - I am. Because of you. (We are a Collective Society) 2. "In the cathedral of the wild, we get to see the best parts of ourselves reflected back to us.” 3. Elvis the odd-legged elephant was helped by the herd in moving up slopes, in plucking branches and the herd moved slower to accommodate her. 4. Solly - saved Boyd knowing that there was a crocodile in the river between him and Boyd, without thinking twice! 5. Act out the movements of animals, be emotive to help the audience feel like they are there themselves. Eg, acting how the leopard left the tracks, how Elvis walked, and how the croc attacked http://www.ted.com/talks/boyd_varty_what_i_learned_from_nelson_mandela.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  12. 12. Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story 1. Single stories create stereotypes. And Stereotypes are not untrue, but incomplete. It emphasizes how we are different, rather than similar. 2. Nkale - To be greater than another - power structures define storytelling often 3. If you want to tell a story differently, start with “Secondly….” 4. Show a people as only one thing over and over again, and that is what they become 5. Personal stories stick - “I wrote stories with bad illustrations of crayons that my mother was obligated to read” 6. “She was told Fide’s family was very poor. There was only pity. She was startled when she saw Fide’s brother make a basket. How could they make anything?” 7. Content is what matters most. No slides, no movement. But a standing ovation because nobody was distracted, and focused only on the content of her speech http://www.ted.com/playlists/62/how_to_tell_a_story.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  13. 13. Isabel Allende: Tales of passion 1. What is truer than truth? The story. 2. Women form 2/3 or the global labour, and yet own less than 1% of assets. 20X the amount of aid goes to men, than women-led programs 3. The American dentist intern in Bangladesh who pulled out bad teeth w/ o instruments, and saw the lady beaten up to a swollen face the next day by her husband for not coming home early enough to cook dinner 4. It’s not the luck factor that’s the most important in the Olympics, it’s fearless passion. 5. Passion should come across in every speech. That’s what connects the audience to the speaker. Isabel is a feminist, and a very polarizing one at that. And it comes across clearly in the talk. http://www.ted.com/playlists/62/how_to_tell_a_story.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  14. 14. Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story 1. Storytelling is joke telling - it’s about knowing your punchline. Stories affirm who we are, and that our lives have meaning 2. “Frankly there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you’ve heard their story”. Just make me care. 3. “A well told promise is like a pebble being pulled back by a slingshot that propels you through a story till the end” 4. The unifying theory of 2+2 - don’t give the audience 4, give them work to do. 5. “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty” 6. Born a premature baby, and was given a second chance. Wanted to make the best of it in the end. 7. Use video to make your vision vivid and bring it to life http://www.ted.com/playlists/62/how_to_tell_a_story.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  15. 15. J.J. Abrams: Screenovation The mystery box 1. Each character has a spine - the reason he exists for, and that’s what people relate to. It’s often also not obvious, but a constant theme 2. In Jaws, the hero needs love, when he asks his kid to kiss him. The shark is obvious. His need for love is a constant undercurrent. 3. “In whatever it is that I do, I find myself drawn to infinite possibility, that sense of potential.” 4. Used “The Mystery box” as a prop, throughout the presentation, on the stage, and then didn't reveal what’s inside it! http://www.ted.com/playlists/62/how_to_tell_a_story.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  16. 16. Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction 1. The circle of life - if we erect walls around us, we remain the same. If the people around us are just like us, then they act like mirrors. We don't want to resemble ourselves all our lives, isn't it? 2. Knowledge that takes you not beyond yourself is far worse than ignorance 3. “If you want to destroy something in this life, be it acne, a blemish or the human soul, all you need to do is to surround it with thick walls. It will dry up inside.” 4. Don’t be a compass, with one leg stuck in one place while the other one moves in the same sphere 5. Quoting others, at least a couple of times, makes you look more intellectual http://www.ted.com/talks/elif_shafak_the_politics_of_fiction.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  17. 17. Philippe Starck: Design and destiny 1. To be visionary, we need to look beyond ourselves, and immediate future. We need to look from the horizontal, up. 2. “We are mutants. If we don’t deeply understand, if we don’t integrate that we are mutants, we completely miss the story.” 3. “In perhaps 50 years, 60 years, we can finish completely this civilization, and offer to our children the possibility to invent a new story, a new poetry, a new romanticism.” 4. Stay in character. If you’re eccentric, then be. Animate inanimate objects, like boiling soup. http://www.ted.com/talks/philippe_starck_thinks_deep_on_design.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  18. 18. Paula Scher: Great design is serious, not solemn 1. To be serious, you often need to be at play. You need to have no preconceived notions, no experience, and have fun with what you’re doing. Nothing to lose if you fail, since you didn't know about it to begin with. 2. Most of the other work is solemn - repeating the serious work in a shorter amount of time. 3. Strive to do more serious work, more often. 4. When she was asked to design the logo for PIT North Side, she designed an icon instead, which was an underpass that separated the city - now the underpass is an iconic art installation 5. To deliver an engrossing presentation, keep it focused on the topic. Paula had 4 examples of serious work, and 2-3 of solemn work. Kept it simple, and I was engrossed. http://www.ted.com/talks/paula_scher_gets_serious.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  19. 19. Stefan Sagmeister: Happiness by design 1. Realised that most of the things in his life that took his breath away included design. Decided to do more. 2. Made a list of lessons he learnt in his life. And then applied those lessons literally in design 3. Show lots and lots of visual examples to keep the audience interested. Share personal/private anecdotes to keep them engaged http://www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_shares_happy_design.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  20. 20. Stefan Sagmeister: 7 rules for making more happiness 1. Keep a diary - it helps development and makes you happier. 2. Makes lots of lists of things…moments, things to do, things that make him happy etc etc 3. Wants to do things that feel partly familiar and partly brand new 4. Use lots of infographics and animations that people have never seen before - it should attract, but not distract from your main message http://www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_7_rules_for_making_more_happiness.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  21. 21. David Carson: Design and discovery 1. Take risks, nobody’s going to die 2. “You have to utilize who you are in your work. Nobody else can do that: nobody else can pull from your background, from your parents, your upbringing, your whole life experience.” 3. Add humor to your talk, subtly. http://www.ted.com/talks/david_carson_on_design.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  22. 22. Yves Behar - Designing objects that tell stories 1. Design is not just a wrapper. It’s integrated into the product and should improve the functionality. 2. Why do we need the Caps Lock and Num Lock on the keyboard when nobody uses it? 3. Throw something in the audience, preferably related to your work, and they’ll all remember you 4. Show examples of work you’ve done, rather than others’ works http://www.ted.com/talks/yves_behar_on_designing_objects_that_tell_stories.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  23. 23. Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity 1. Intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct 2. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything creative or new” 3. Quote other speakers and reference them in your talk 4. Make a concise contention right up front, “Creativity is now as important as literacy in education” 5. End the talk by referring to the group in the room as those who can make decisions about what you’re talking about. Then give them a strong call to action, that they can go and do. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  24. 24. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action 1. Ideas need to be simple to spread - the golden circle is simple 2. To Lead, you need a Why, to Inspire, you need a Why. To be a leader, you need a how or a what. A leader executes. 3. Tivo failed. Martin Luther King succeeded, because people gathered there not for him, but for their own beliefs. 4. Use a chart paper and draw as you speak. People will focus their attention completely on you. 5. Use examples everyone knows of and can relate to - Apple, Martin Luther King, mixed with those no one has heard of, like the Wright Brothers competitor http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  25. 25. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability 1. If can’t measure it, it doesn't exist 2. People who have strong sense of love and belonging, feel that they are worthy of it. They had the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to themselves (first) and then to others, they had connection as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they were, to be who they want to be. 3. They embraced vulnerability. What made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They had the willingness to do something where there were no guarantees - like saying “I love you” first. And not knowing what to expect in return. 4. Say to your kids you’re imperfect, but worthy of my love and belonging 5. Start with a personal story, possibly where you were vulnerable. Share a personal story that showed you were vulnerable and in denial! http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  26. 26. Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight 1. The left brain is often the conscious, logical side that looks at the past and projects into the future. The right brain is creative, about emotions, energy flows and allows us to think beyond logic. Perhaps, that’s the “gut” 2. “Then it crosses my mind, ‘But I’m a very busy woman! I don’t have time for a stroke!’” 3. Express your personal emotions and experiences as vividly as possible, and the audience will be hooked 4. Surprise the audience - with a real brain perhaps? http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  27. 27. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are 1. Presence = Passionate, Enthusiastic, Captivating, Comfortable, Authentic, Confident. 2. “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” Fake it till you become it. Power pose just for two minutes a day! 3. Leaders must communicate power + competence, and warmth and trust. 4. She had an accident at 19, IQ dropped by 2 std deviations and she was no longer “smart” - her wajood disappeared. She kept telling herself she didn't fit in at Princeton, she’s not supposed to be at Harvard. Until she kept doing what she did best, and she became fit for Harvard! 5. Share a deeply emotional personal story, not just other people’s stories 6. Give a strong call to action, like “Share this science with those who need it” http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  28. 28. David Gallo: Underwater astonishments 1. We’ve explored just 3% of the ocean, and 97% is yet to thrill us, full of surprises 2. An octopus can change its color, skin texture and shape in seconds, to blend into its surroundings. 3. End with a WOW surprise and you get a standing-ovation 4. Tell the audience stuff they didn't already know http://www.ted.com/talks/david_gallo_shows_underwater_astonishments.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  29. 29. Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation 1. Intrinsic Motivation 1. Autonomy - the desire to direct our own lives 2. Mastery - The desire to do something better and better 3. Purpose - The yearning to contribute to something bigger than themselves. To do things because they matter. 2. The candle problem - put the candle on the wall w/o letting the wax drip on the table 3. Give them a problem to solve, ideally visual, that you can all solve together 4. Bring in local contexts, “like they say in DC, this is a True Fact” http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  30. 30. Bobby McFerrin: Watch me play ... the audience! 1. Music is the universal language. As are others. 2. Pa Paa P Pa Paaa Pa Paa.. 3. Make the audience play along, or even lead the play. In this case, they played music! http://www.ted.com/talks/bobby_mcferrin_hacks_your_brain_with_music.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  31. 31. Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days 1. If you’ve been wanting to do something for a long time, just try it for 30 days. 2. He wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Just wrote 1,667 words per day and didn't go to sleep until he did! 3. Keep it concise, and specific. http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  32. 32. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter ... 1. If you want to do something, start with “I can”. Then go to “I tried”. Then finally, “I’m good at it” 2. The Point B poem was one of the best I’ve ever heard 3. Just mesmerize! http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  33. 33. Richard St. John: 8 secrets of success 1. 500 interviews in 7 years from TEDsters 2. Keys to success: Passion, Work, Focus, Persist, Ideas, Do Good, Push, Serve 3. Show insights gleaned from the audience http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_st_john_s_8_secrets_of_success.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  34. 34. Susan Cain: The power of introverts 1. Introverts are under-rated, and under-appreciated. 2. There is power in contemplating in one corner, and coming together to share the ideas, rather than brainstorming together 3. “Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi — all these peopled described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken and even shy. And they all took the spotlight, even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to.” 4. Be authentic, by sharing just as many personal stories, as other people’s examples. Bring a prop on stage -like a bag of books - people will remember that. http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  35. 35. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work 1. 90% of happiness depends on how we react to the external world 2. 3 gratitudes, journaling about 1 +ve experience in the last 24hrs, exercise, meditation helps to focus, random acts of kindness 3. Harvard students within 2 weeks stop being happy, and only care about grades and competition 4. Start with a personal story, perhaps even from childhood. Bring back the story halfway through the speech, in another context. 5. Be Authentic. State the truth, shamelessly. http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  36. 36. Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology 1. It’s ok to open up things and explore. But then make sure you do something with it. 2. It’s ok for your passionate pursuit to be imperfect, but keep persisting. You’ll perfect it one day and change an industry, or two 3. He took the roller balls out of the mouse, combined four of those trackers with pulleys and springs to create a $2 gesture control 4. End with how you will empower the audience to change the world, based on the work you’ve done 5. Show glimpses of your actual work in action http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  37. 37. Andy Puddicombe: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes 1. 10 mins of meditation in a day can not only help solve life’s issues, it can prevent some too. It helps you experience and react to situations better 2. Went to the himalayas to research meditation, and now has come back to share his findings 3. Play with something, and perhaps use it to demonstrate your point - an object can bring life to the subject http://www.ted.com/talks/andy_puddicombe_all_it_takes_is_10_mindful_minutes.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  38. 38. Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling 1. A smile gives us as much happiness as receiving $25K, or 2000 bars of chocolate! 2. Children smile 400 times a day, adults average 20! 3. Have a Prezi that doesn't just zoom in or zoom out, but concludes with an overview http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_gutman_the_hidden_power_of_smiling.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  39. 39. Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm 1. Too much I didn't know… ;) 2. Quote other scientists who’ve done research to add weight to your own findings http://www.ted.com/talks/mary_roach_10_things_you_didn_t_know_about_orgasm.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  40. 40. Richard St. John: Success is a continuous journey 1. Don’t get complacent once you’ve tasted success, as it’s a continuous process that needs to be repeated 2. He wasn't a good manager, but spent time managing people instead of focusing on his passion and working with clients 3. Introduce steps or stages for the audience to follow http://www.ted.com/talks/mary_roach_10_things_you_didn_t_know_about_orgasm.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  41. 41. Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life 1. Increase your lifespan by not sitting ideal for more than an hour (physical resilience), for every negative emotion do 3 things that make u feel positive (emotional resilience), mental resilience, social resilience - you get more strength from your friends gratitude. 2. She had a brain concussion and wanted to die. Then she devised a role-playing real-life game that allowed her to improve her condition by building the 4 types of resiliences 3. Share a deeply personal experience 4. Get the audience to do something together - and ideally have a take-away too! http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life.ht Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  42. 42. Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do 1. We do things because they emotionally and mentally enrich us - if either is missing, we are unlikely to succeed 2. Al Gore can’t blame the Supreme Court for losing the elections. He could have been more resourceful and made a better emotional connection with the electorate 3. Get the audience to raise their hands and say “I” 4. Go down in the audience and high-five someone http://www.ted.com/talks/tony_robbins_asks_why_we_do_what_we_do.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  43. 43. Nilofer Merchant: Got a Meeting? Take a Walk 1. Health and obligations are not mutually exclusive. Fresh Air drives fresh thinking. 2. She accompanied her friend to walk her dog. And that changed her life - now she never goes into a meeting room, but walks around a block 3. Start with a profound statement, “sitting is the new smoking” http://on.ted.com/Nilofer Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  44. 44. Elon Musk: The mind behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity ... 1. Tackle problems that will change the course of humanity - electric car, space travel, solar energy 2. Don’t just be ambitious. Believe so hard in your ambition that you are willing to bet it all in your vision 3. $100K Tesla Roadster > $50K Model S > $30K mass market car - 3-5 years for tech. iteration. 4. Innovation is 10X or 100X improvement. Re-using a rocket reduces costs by 100X! 0.3% of the cost is fuel, the rest is rocket - which NASA used to discard! http://www.ted.com/talks/elon_musk_the_mind_behind_tesla_spacex_solarcity.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  45. 45. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius 1. The creative is not within, it’s like Doby, who sits in the same room, hiding, and comes to you sometimes. So you need not feel depressed if they say your best work is behind you already. 2. The Poem would thunder toward her and she’d have to grab a pen and quickly write it down. If she didn't reach the pen soon enough, then the poem would thunder on, in search of another poet! 3. No slide. Just great content and stories make a presentation mesmerizing. http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  46. 46. Hannah Brencher: Love letters to strangers 1. Writing letters to each other, and even to strangers, helps us live a fuller life 2. She just started writing love letters to strangers, after announcing on the internet, who wants one. 3. A prop always invokes curiosity - in her case, the USPS box, with letters inside http://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_brencher_love_letters_to_strangers.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  47. 47. Laura Trice: Remember to say thank you 1. Ask your loved ones what they want to hear what gratitude they want expressed? 2. It’s like truing a bike - showing gratitude, and asking for it help you renew 3. Keep it to the point and concise http://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_brencher_love_letters_to_strangers.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  48. 48. Candy Chang: Before I die I want to... 1. Turning a dilapidated house into a space for reflection…now walls like these are being created around the world 2. Preparing for death clarifies and helps prioritize life 3. When her foster mom died, she decided to turn her grief into something constructive 4. Be emotional about your subject - even to tears and it will attract people to your cause http://www.ted.com/talks/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  49. 49. Bill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and education 1. Tackle basic human problems and your can make a significant difference to human life 2. Child mortality rate has halved in the last 50 years, due to better sanitation and vaccinations for kids under 5 years of age 3. Released mosquitoes in the audience, saying why should they infect only the poor with malaria? He did reveal later that those he released were malaria free http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_unplugged.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  50. 50. Shashi Tharoor: Why nations should pursue "soft" power 1. Power goes beyond GDP or military might - it is about spreading stories that attract people to a country. India is a soft power (like Canada, NZ) 2. Indian restaurants in the UK employ more people than mining, shipping and rail put together! The Empire Strikes back. 3. Lots and lots of interesting facts and examples weaved together to form a storyline that puts across the points well enough that no slides are needed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiTrl0W1QrM Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  51. 51. Mallika Sarabhai: Dance to change the world 1. Dance and arts can be a powerful tool to share stories about very serious matters and be used as a mass-education tool. 2. Used drama to teach rural folks in Gujarat that they can fold a cotton sari 8x to reduce water-borne diseases by 80%! 3. Enact a story and live out the characters, but make sure it communicates a strong message. The message then really sticks. http://www.ted.com/talks/mallika_sarabhai.html Insights :: Stories :: Presentation
  52. 52. 42 TED Talks Lessons. Insights. Inspiration. Jan 1-5, 2014 Hope you found this deck insightful. I’d love to hear your thoughts - what’s your favorite TED Talk? Which of those I watched did you find most inspiring? Happy to discuss in the comments section, or drop me an email shashank.nigam[at]gmail.com