There were little things Chimamanda Adiche did throughout her TED talks which I felt subtly but effectively engaged her audience and made them like her, which in turn made them more receptive to what she was saying to them. First, she used humor, but only sparingly. In essence, she added enough clever and tasteful wit to perk the interest of her audience–but she didn’t use humor so often that her entire presentation became a joke. I think a happy medium is important, especially when you talk about the things she did, such as feminism and stereotypes. Taking a light-hearted approach to a heavy issue is a lot less intimidating to those listening. It encourages conversation and thought, rather than fear, anger, or guilt. Of course you can’t use so much humor that the audience stops taking the issue seriously. But if you want your audience to listen to you, you have to make them comfortable.
Another important part of making your audience comfortable is not singling out people or seeming accusatory. In her humor, Adiche often made jokes out of experiences she had involving other people acting bigoted or ignorant. But she made an equal amount of cracks at herself, proving that no one is perfect, and she is not unaware of herself also making mistakes. As an activist, I know a large part of progress is calling out others and yourself when you do something insensitive or prejudice. Adiche proves that she’s self aware, as well as a good person, by acknowledging her faults throughout her speeches.
Last but not least, she uses plenty of personal examples in order to illustrate her point along side her physical evidence. This paints a more vivid picture of a situation, and also makes the audience relate more to Adiche–which ultimately leads to them caring more about her argument. If you can’t relate to someone, why would you care about what they have to say, really? I think this is an important idea to keep in mind when we write papers and give speeches. Before we can convince our audience of anything, we need to win them over. Whether that’s through humor, passion, or simple pragmatic thinking, we all need something like this in our presentations.