Christian Long

Sebastian Wernicke: Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TED Talks)

In TED Talks on May 26, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Extra credit reflection by EMMA L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Sebastian Wernicke: Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TED Talks)

As the school year was coming to an end, we sophomore students were assigned our “final project” in English. The task seemed simple at first, yet the more we thought about it the more complex we realized it was. We all tried to think what would make the “perfect TED talk” yet all we really needed to do is express our passion, what we were most interested in and the rest would fall in place.

Although what words should we have used to describe our topic? This is what Sebastian Wernicke was pondering when he found out what he wanted to talk about at TED2010. He wanted to use statistics to see if he could create the ultimate TED talk as well as the worst Ted talk that they would allow you to say on the stage. To discover these things he looked at three important decisions a speaker has to make; topic, visuals, and delivery.

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Sebastian first looked at the list of top ten words that make a successful talk and an unsuccessful talk.

For example if you came to TED to talk about how French coffee will spread happiness in our brains than it will be a successful talk. Whereas, if you wanted to talk about your project involving oxygen, girls, aircraft than the statistics say the talk would not be successful.

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He discovered that the most favorite TED Talks are those that have topics we as an audience can connect with, such as happiness, our own body, food, emotions. The more technical topics, such as architecture, materials and men, are not good topics to talk about when presenting at TED.

Sebastian discovered that the most liked talks are usually over the specific time limit that TED allows a speaker, with a few exceptions. By letting your hair grow out a little longer than is normal, wearing glasses, and dressing up a bit more than the average speaker allows the audience to somehow “like” you more, or so the statistics say.

At the closing of his talk, Sebastian gives you a tool to create your own “best and worst TED talks”. He calls this tool the TED Pad. And the TED Pad allows you to easily piece together to get your own TED Talk.

When I tried out the TED Pad, this is what I came up with for my Worst TED Talk.

“Of course, economics are going to play a major role here, too. So maybe I don’t have to know more about the issue. I just need to make sure that there’s enough oxygen compressed in tanks. What I can’t have is to use this is in an aircraft that made you realize how now you’re even older. It inspired me to start a project people just have to talk about. Also, I’m here to tell you that we need to involve girls with a strong sense of purpose. I don’t understand why there aren’t more feet trampling on the New York Times. Why don’t we instead turn to building things I don’t understand. Keep in mind though that this is not necessarily a problem that I don’t understand. Not even with the help of a computer room equipped with what I can’t have. This room would be based on a patent-pending design of a village.”

Image 1 can be found here

Image 2 can be found here

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