Since its launch in 1984, Ted Talks have become a highly effective platform for the sharing and spreading of new ideas and innovations. By coupling ethos, pathos, and logos-based appeals with a conversational oral presentation, the ideas presented in Ted Talks are easily received and easily understood by a wide audience. Because Ted Talks have also grown in magnitude over the past couple of decades, it is now possible to find a Talk on virtually any topic. Even more, the accessibility of Ted Talks through the Internet enables the messages presented in Ted Talks to reach a global audience. Lastly, Ted Talks are generally given in a short time frame (i.e. three to fifteen minutes), which prevents audiences from losing interest and becoming inundated with too much information. Under the slogan, “ideas worth sharing,” Ted Talks are an effective method to introduce new ideas in a short, condensed, and simplified manner in which audiences across the globe can very easily understand.
Like any speech, however, the effectiveness of Ted Talks depends on the speaker. While the idea of Ted Talks is powerful and valuable, the ability of Ted Talks to convey an idea to an audience ultimately resides in the effectiveness of the speaker. Furthermore, Ted Talks generally lack visuals, which I feel are an important component in explaining and sharing ideas. In many instances, visuals are often more useful in explaining phenomena that words cannot express. Since Ted Talks rely heavily on the oral aspect of presentation, I feel that the lack of visuals may be dampening its own effectiveness.
While I believe that the popularity of Ted Talks is increasing, I do not think that it is necessarily a new rhetorical development. Although Ted Talks are effective, I feel that they are simply a modern adaptation of a conventional speech—the only difference being that the presenter is able to reach a wider audience and more easily share his or her ideas.