How to sound smart in your TEDx Talk?

This talk was given at a local TEDx New York event by Will Stephen, who is a professional actor and writer. By the way, he is concurrently a professional comedian. In his hilarious speech, he shows flawless presentation skills to make you sound genius – even if you are truly talking about nothing.

Words… How impressive they might be?! How brilliant they might sound?! But is it all about only words and content while you are giving a public talk or even a daily speech in your kitchen with your wife?! The speaker in this video claims that you may sound smart, no matter what are you talking about. Voice tone, pace, speed, and body language represents more than about 80% of your talk. The rest is content and words. And his speech is the brilliant proof of this argument. Because when you really get rid of the audio (his suggestion), he looks so smart and his speech seems like worth listening to.

I think this video is probably the most interesting TED talk I’ve ever listened to. Apart from it being an interesting commentary on psychology, it also allows one to think about delivery. Through the manner of his speech, he made the tremendous work to engage and interest the audience. By extension, we may see how people are easily convinced of weak arguments from those in positions of authority and such. Even though the speaker while the whole presentation was talking about absolutely nothing, he made me think about many things instead of just telling me nonsense.

He says he has nothing to say, but what he really has, is a very sophisticated parody of TED talks themselves. The sad fact remains that this is much more thought provoking than a lot of  TED talks I have seen recently. Watching him one can understand that he has a point that many of TED talks seem like they might be hitting a point that they never do. He makes you think about the storytelling layout of most TED talk videos in a backwards way, his delivery was strong, funny and painless to listen to so he taught you in a way that didn’t feel like teaching.

In fact, it’s actually how public speeches are given. Capturing the audience’s attention. The speaker encapsulates why I think TED talks are just good presentations, and are inspirational “edutainment”, but offer no threat of changing the status quo or actual education (which takes work). They have branded a successful format that makes for good dinner party banter, that’s all.

This is a great way to see that there is no such thing as a boring or pointless topic, only boring and pointless speakers. It legitimately took a lot of skill. I am both annoyed and impressed by his ability to make literally “nothing” interesting. I can say that his claim is credible as I have tried to use the same thing in my Academic Kazakh course and from my personal experience it was interesting and fascinating.

Humans are really complex, yet, we take it to granted, we take it as a simple speech, as it is nothing, but it doesn’t. I liked watching this video and it somehow made me rethink my life. What are your thoughts about this claim?

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