· Performance,Storytelling

There is such an art to public speaking. When somebody can tell a story from the stage, and connect with the audience, it's magic. I don't fully understand it, and I want to.

So I've been watching great talks lately, which means of course I end up at Sir Ken Robinson's TED page. Apparently I'm not the only one who's ended up there: this talk has been viewed THIRTY NINE MILLION TIMES on Ted.com. (What!)

Why does this talk work? Well there are a lot of factors at play, but look at all the ways he connects with the audience, just in the first sixty seconds.

0:11 "Good morning. How are you?" Usually this kind of opening falls flat, but not here. Notice that he asks this question to one specific audience member sitting near him, and actually waits for the man's (muffled) answer before he continues. It's as if he's about to start a conversation with one person, as opposed to a lecture for hundreds. He maintains this conversational tone throughout the rest of his talk.

0:16 "It's been great, hasn't it? I've been blown away by the whole thing. In fact, I'm leaving." :) Here, he's taken himself off the stage, metaphorically speaking, and put himself back in the audience. He's reminding them that he's been watching and listening to the talks, right alongside them. He's saying "I'm one of you, I just happen to be up here for the moment, maybe feeling a bit intimidated." We can relate.

0:29 "There have been three themes running through the conference which are relevant to what I want to talk about. One is the extraordinary evidence of human creativity in all of the presentations that we've had and in all of the people here. Just the variety of it and the range of it." He's using the word "we" to good affect -- creating that sense of community and connection and shared experience. It's subtle, but it works. ALSO he's complimenting the audience -- many of the previous speakers are sitting in front of him now. So these kind words create warm fuzzies, and then he says --

"The second is that it's put us in a place where we have no idea what's going to happen, in terms of the future. No idea how this may play out." More "we," and now he's tapping into some vulnerability or not-knowing that we all share. Everybody's guards are being slowly lowered at this point, I suspect - they are developing a healthy sense of curiosity about what he's going to say next.

0:56 "I have an interest in education. Actually, what I find is everybody has an interest in education. Don't you?" You know they are going to agree with him - they're at TED! They are there to learn! If there's one thing everybody in that room has in common, it's a college degree (or higher). This guy knows his audience.

It's such a good talk, it's worth watching in its entirety. So good. I learn something new every time I watch it. 

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