TED talks are my absolute favourite way to procrastinate, they are simple presentations which take extremely complex and powerful ideas and convey it in a way that anyone (including me!) can understand. So, when I heard that we had to prepare a Ted talk for this class I was super excited and curious to see what our group would come up with. Ted speakers have a very particular way of framing and presenting information such that any topic no matter how complex or boring is able to intrigue an audience and I wanted to see if my group would be able to have a similar effect on our class of ENG119 peers.
Even before picking a topic I re-watched my favourite Talks before class to see what techniques the speakers used that made this presentation format so appealing to me. My absolute favourite TED Talk is one by Will Stephen and it’s a talk about … nothing. The entire talk consists of Will mimicking popular techniques Ted speakers use to try to engage an audience. Even though the contents of this talk are nonsensical there are actually a surprising number of insightful things that can be taken away from the way he presents.
Take a look at this talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S0FDjFBj8o
Start with suspense:
Just like we judge people based on first impressions we judge presentations by their introductions. Often times, I see people begin their presentations with a sort of “table of contents” outlining every point they will make and the eventual conclusion. This may be an effective way of clearing up what the presentation is about but it leaves nothing to the imagination and doesn’t evoke any sense of excitement for the listener. It’s important to begin with something interactive like a question and gradually build up to your points.
Keep slides very clear and simple:
There should never be more than one point per slide. If you have graphs make sure that they only showcase the information which you are referencing.
Build up to a bigger point:
A presentation must have some sort of overarching thesis which you are trying to prove, ideally the thesis should be something non-obvious because that makes it more interesting for the audience.
I think that driverless cars are going to be one of the most revolutionary technological advances for mankind and so I selected the topic of insuring driverless cars. I was very happy to find out that most of my group members were studying finance or actuarial studies and were more interested in the actual insurance aspect of the topic. Our group and interests were diverse and this allowed us to attack the topic from a variety of different perspectives.
We started of by doing doing a lot of research on the topic to see if we could formulate a thesis about our ideas. Eventually we ran into the issue that manufactures were saying one version of the future and insurance companies were claiming a different one. We originally thought this was a problem because we didn’t know whose side to pick, but then we realized that we could actually use this contradiction in our findings to strengthen our argument. This realization lead to what I think is our group’s best argument which outlined how insurance companies severely underestimate the impact driverless cars would have in the immediate future.
We will know driverless cars have arrived when you no longer have to pay for insurance. – Our Thesis
After gathering all of our evidence we started crafting the presentation, we made a basic outline with just the plain facts. Then we added visuals and graphics to support our points and make the presentation more engaging. We met as a group about once a week to practice delivering it to an audience and each group member helped the others with constructive criticism. We made sure to follow the presentation tips discussed earlier by having an engaging introduction, by breaking everything into simple ideas and by building everything up to a central point.
Overall I was very happy with my group and I think that we did an awesome job delivering the presentation, everyone was prepared and the class seemed to have been very engaged when we were speaking.
I also really enjoyed listening to the presentations of the other groups, I especially found the one about serious games very educational. I did not realize how powerful games could be as an education force. I honestly wish that when I was growing up teachers used Minecraft as an educational tool because I would have gotten much better grades! It really got me thinking about how games have such a powerful feedback loop which is what makes them so addicting and if that feedback mechanism was applied to education it could make learning new things addictive too!
In conclusion, this was an a great project which taught me valuable skills about group work and communications!