Nov 13

TED Talk Reflection

I don’t think I’ve ever given a speech that went exactly as planned, but my TED Talk was definitely a manifestation of Murphy’s Law (“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”).  Despite having run through the speech before class, I managed to omit a key point from my introduction.  Then I continued talking until I could no longer feasibly work it back into the speech.  Perhaps I should have slowed down and reworked my introduction on the fly, but, in retrospect, there are some simple measures I could have taken to counteract my forgetfulness.

Looking back at similar speeches (5 minutes without notes) that I had to give for an Engineering Design course, I realized where I went wrong.  While I took a similar approach in preparing for the TED Talk, familiarizing myself with the information and data that I wanted to present so that I could support my main points, I changed my approach with the key points themselves.  The Engineering Department teaches a presentation format called Assertion-Evidence; it’s a simple premise: you make a statement, then back it up.  Presentations in this format are usually accompanied by PowerPoint Presentations with a slide for each assertion, plainly stating the point to be made.

I designed my TED slideshow to show supporting evidence for each of the main points that I planned to make, but did not include the points themselves.  Having headings or titles that would have indicated the point I needed to make and breaking the presentation into a greater number of slides, each with more specific information, would have helped me remain on point and prevented the omission of important information.  From now on, I’ll try sticking to what I know works when it comes to oral presentations.  My TED Talk is linked below:

Nov 13

TED Talk Preparation

While the TED Talk is a relatively new type of presentation, it is not drastically different than other forms of public speech or delivery.  Giving a successful TED talk will rely on many of the same elements as the more traditional speech required by Unit One.  Therefore, in preparing for my upcoming presentation, I will focus on correcting the errors that I made in my first speech.

I feel that one of the most important improvements that I can make is to capture and hold the audience’s attention more effectively.  When preparing for my last speech, I spent time familiarizing myself with the information that I wanted to convey, but did not focus enough on how I planned to convey it.  When practicing my TED Talk, I want to consciously alter my style, particularly my tone and inflection, until I find what will work best.

TED Talks are more of a performance than most other speeches.  Without being rooted to a lectern, I will have to be more aware of my body language and gestures.  Practicing with an audience or filming myself could help me eliminate any distracting or unnecessary mannerisms.  Along the same lines, it will be more important that I not only reference my visual aids, but that I can seamlessly interact with them.  Being familiar with the PowerPoint that I plan to use will give the talk an uninterrupted flow.  Identifying and fixing glitches and technical problems ahead of time will also ensure that my performance runs smoothly.

Finally, while Unit One was a more structured speech, the TED format depends on general knowledge of the topic being presented and does not allow for the use of notes.  Therefore, I will prepare by familiarizing myself with the key points and data that I want to use rather than focusing on strict memorization.  This will, hopefully, allow for a more authentic and engaging presentation, feeling more like a discussion than a lecture for the audience.

Oct 13

Unit Three Outline

I’ve changed topics and am now focusing on the shift in manufacturing of consumer goods from durables to disposables.  I want to explore several shifts in practices and attitudes, particularly among consumers, as well as changes in technology that have caused this shift.  Finally, I hope to determine whether the decrease in many products’ lifespans indicates a decline in quality, or is merely the result of more rapid growth and shifts in purchasers’ habits.

I plan to divide the paper into subsections, namely between changes in the practices of companies and manufacturers and those of consumers.  The paper will address these issues as they relate to the American market and its development from the post-WWII era to the present.

  • Introduction: Shift in manufacturing from consumer durables to disposables
    • Average lifetime of common products; products that were popular post WWII
  • Scarcity of WWII made consumers appreciate quality, long lifespan
  • Manufacturing shift from post-war boom in U.S. to foreign made
    • Americans now lack technical skills necessary to bring manufacturing back to U.S.
  • Shift in type of products demanded
    • New technology needs to be replaced more frequently because of increased growth (exponential development of technology)
  • Planned obsolescence
    • Forces consumers to upgrade more frequently
    • New products made incompatible with old
  • Warranties decreased
  • Shift in marketing: focus on newest models
    • Cars kept for a few years instead of a decade; leased instead of purchased
    • Electronics require frequent updating or replacing
  • Conclusion

Oct 13

Stasis Theory and Unit Three

When presenting a prolonged argument, it is important to take a systematic approach.  Stasis allows a speaker to better understand the argument that he or she is trying to make, and thereby the best methods for convincing others to agree.  When considering a paradigm shift, stasis can narrow an argument from generalities and broad concepts, getting a speaker to the heart of the matter.  Making a convincing argument is simply a matter of asking the right questions.

Stasis first raises the notion of the theoretical versus the practical.  A paradigm shift is, by its nature, not finite.  However, a strictly theoretical argument can never be definitively settled.  Therefore, it is best to argue any ambiguous concepts in terms of those things that are explicitly defined.  Using concrete evidence, such as statistics that have clearly changed over time, allows one to make a convincing argument about something abstract in terms of tangible, even quantifiable qualities.

This concept is closely tied to the questions of Conjecture and Definition, as it helps make the topic more specific and reveals more of its nature than a general claim can.  Arguments should, generally speaking, work toward increasing specificity in order to draw an audience along a thorough line of logic in favor of the speaker’s point.

The question of Quality, whether something is right or wrong, can be more difficult to maneuver.  Quality is often a subjective matter, and even more so when considering broad or undefined arguments.  However, it can often be determined without bias by examining an issue in terms of natural or widely accepted laws and moral standards.  By evaluating the issue on grounds that the audience is (almost) certain to share, a speaker can avoid alienating or offending his or her audience with unfounded opinions.

Finally, when it comes to Policy, or which actions should be taken in light of the argument made, a conclusion may not be necessary.  A course of action may be suggested or argued for, but none should be considered as definite for the same reason that opinion must be avoided in determining Quality.  Arguing too ardently for anything subjective risks losing the support garnered by the core of a speaker’s argument.


Oct 13

Unit Three Concepts and TED

Technological progress has changed many aspects of everyday life.  However, the paradigm that I am interested in examining is not technology itself, but the nature of interaction and socialization as it relates to technology.  Generally speaking, we have shifted away from a time when the communication standard was face-to-face.  With successive innovations, contacting one another has become increasingly easier.  However, it has also become less intimate and impersonal.

Particularly with the advent of the internet, human interactions have become more frequent but less meaningful.  Communicating via newer means of technology often prevents individuals from connecting on more than a superficial level or forming lasting bonds.  While it certainly has its advantages, technology has become a social hindrance when relied too heavily upon, with its effects clear in homes, communities, and businesses.  Furthermore, in areas where technology is not as readily available, social interaction remains largely the same as it once was everywhere.

Another social shift has occurred in the post-WWII generations; each has become more focused on the self and individual.  While those who endured the Second World War had struggled and fought together (and had ancestors who had endured similarly bleak circumstances), later generations slowly lost touch with the impact of this conflict.  The strong sense of national unity was gradually forgotten and, without any similar event in later years, has not returned.

The emphasis on one’s self can be seen in many areas.  Many politicians, no longer forced to work together by circumstance, now focus on public image and pleasing sponsors.  For the same reason, international relations have also lost the sense of greater good that came with reliance on foreign allies.  While every household sacrificed to support the war effort, modern households are usually centered on their own success.  Communal well-being is seldom a priority.

In regards to TED, one of my personal favorites is a talk by Sir Ken Robinson on the nature of education.  He has a very effective style of delivery and uses dry humor to address a serious topic.

TED – Ken Robinson


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