One of my favorite former students, Evan O’Lear, emailed me a link to a TEDx Austin Women Talk delivered by “The World’s Ugliest Woman,” Lizzie Velasquez. Lizzie turns this terrible label on its head and urges her audience – and us at home – to reconsider how we define ourselves. Does physical appearance matter so much that a strong, intelligent, funny, powerful woman with an exceptional medical condition must resign to a life of taunting and bullying? And why are we so afraid of people who don’t look exactly the same way we do?
I guarantee that while watching this Talk, you will feel feelings. Check it out below:
The Huffington Post calls Lizzie’s Talk “a lesson in acceptance and self love” (Source). The International Business Times says Lizzie’s goal is “to help diminish the hate that comes her way by overriding it with an inspirational message of love and acceptance” (Source).
Even though I’ve seen thousands of presentations, after watching Lizzie’s TEDx Talk, I find myself in awe at the power of words. A great speech can transform the way we look at someone – can make someone labeled “a monster” by cyberbullies into a beautiful human being, a hero and champion for women. A great speech can make us feel deep empathy and compassion for others. A great speech can change our perspective and can change the way we view the world. A great speech can make us move from apathy to hope and optimism. Lizzie’s presentation was masterful, and she makes her audience feel like we are better people for having watched her speak.
What is your reaction to Lizzie’s TEDx Talk? Please share your thoughts in the “Comments” section!
Thank you for being so patient, Creating Communication readers, during this overwhelmingly busy time in my life! Work has been off-the-charts busy with overhauling our online course; teaching extra classes; and handling more student issues than usual. My graduate class has also been crazy as we wrap up our semester. My final research paper was due yesterday, and our class final exam will be next week. Because I will be so busy studying this week and over the weekend, I elected to stay in Orlando for Thanksgiving as opposed to driving to my hometown. Though I am sad I won’t see family, I am exhausted. I need a break, and I can’t wait to spend some time alone. Do you ever feel that way?
This Thanksgiving, I am focusing on slowing down and being grateful despite the frenzy going on around me. Brother David Steindl-Rast’s TED Talk could not have come at a more perfect time for me. Called “Want To Be Happy? Be Grateful,” the Benedictine monk teaches us how to calm ourselves and to focus on giving thanks. Check out his beautiful lesson below:
This Thanksgiving, I am going to stop, stand still in the middle of the tornado that is my life right now, and be thankful for every single blessing I have been taking for granted. Whether you will be traveling and spending time with family or, like me, home alone, I hope you will find some time to stop, meditate, and be thankful.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
When I was searching for a new book to read this weekend, I came across Malcolm Gladwell’s newest called David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. While I almost instantly realized I wasn’t going to have time for any pleasure reading during my “weekend,” I did notice that TED released a TED Talk by Gladwell based on that book. Check it out below:
This TED Talk is beautifully shot. One thing I hate about some of these new TED Talks is the tiny “stage” with the audience clustering around. That semi-circle seems so awkward!
Gladwell’s content is interesting, and he tells the story of David and Goliath only to turn the story on its head. What I love most about his Talk is his delivery. He is so conversational that it makes me feel like he’s talking to me at a dinner party.
Learn more about Malcolm Gladwell here. You can also check out a few of his other TED Talks.
Jane McGonigal’s twin sister graced the TED stage! I’m sure Kelly hates being known as Jane McGonigal’s twin, but it’s such a great identifier… TED also provided a great bio: “Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal is a leader in the growing field of “science-help.” Through books, articles, courses and workshops, McGonigal works to help us understand and implement the latest scientific findings in psychology, neuroscience and medicine” (Source). Kelly’s TED Talk reminds me a lot of Amy Cuddy’s studies, and I really enjoyed it. Check it out below:
I love her point at around 5:30, and this is something I actually teach my public speaking students:
If we can view physical responses of stress as positive and as preparing us for the challenge ahead, we can cope with our public speaking anxiety, our stress, and manage it more effectively.
How do you cope with your public speaking anxiety, stress, and fear?
One of my students delivered his TED Analysis Presentation last month on Daniel H. Cohen’s “For Argument’s Sake.” Check it out below:
One of the things I like about Cohen’s Talk is the way he grabs the audience’s attention through question. This immediately makes me sit back and wonder why I argue, what I’m trying to do when I argue, and why it matters. I do feel like opening with a question is one of the most overdone, cliche ways to begin a presentation. Infomercials have all but killed opening with a question. However, I like the way Cohen uses questions here to really get me (and his audience) thinking.
I didn’t like Cohen’s slides. He could have separated each bullet on its own separate slide or not used slides at all. He could have avoided the cheesy clip art and the faceless alien creatures. I also thought his pacing was much too fast. I had to rewind the TED Talk several times to even understand what he was saying.
Cohen’s delivery was authentic, natural, and passionate. I liked that he established his credibility in the beginning and that he supported each of his three points (the three arguments) with ample support and real life application.
One of the assignments for my students in Professional Communication and Presentation as well as Public Speaking is to analyze a TED Talk based on that speech’s content/message, delivery, and visual aids (slides or props). Being able to analyze a Talk is so essential for speakers to learn what works and what doesn’t.
When you watch a TED speaker, do you pay more attention to the content, delivery, or visuals? A combination of the three?
Guy Kawasaki delivered “The 12 Lessons I Learned from Steve Jobs” at TEDxHarker School…
Kawasaki’s content is strong because he gives great presentation advice. However, what I like most about his TED Talk is his natural, authentic delivery. He appears jovial, excited, and friendly. His personality clearly shines through, which is what makes his presentation shine.
What presentations about presentations have you watched and enjoyed lately?
Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED Talk, delivered at April 2013′s TED Education conference, is fantastic. Watch below:
Robinson explains that a teacher’s job is to be creative; a teacher’s job is not to deliver information. So often, we believe our goal is to get information to students. Yes, that’s important, but, as Robinson says, our other goals are to “mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage” and “if there is no learning going on, there is no education going on” (Source).
Many of my colleagues are “engaged in the task of teaching but not actually fulfilling it” (Source). What should a teacher be doing? Back in January of 2012, I wrote the “Superteachers” series stemming from my six years of teaching experience. I first defined the term “superteacher” and then listed a few qualities that separate a teacher from a superteacher. Those qualities include creativity; a passion for learning; obviously doing the work (engaging in the act of teaching but also the act of learning); optimism; and mentorship/developing leadership potential. To learn more about the series, please click here.
Robinson tells us in his TED Talk that the one and only role of a teacher is “to facilitate learning” (Source). Learning doesn’t come from lecturing. It comes from collaboration, discussion, and activity. In order to join the teaching and learning revolution, one must make a commitment to the qualities Robinson describes in his TED Talk as well as the qualities of a superteacher. What additional qualities do you think a superteacher possesses? How would you define “superteacher” ?
Angela Lee Duckworth’s “The key to success? Grit” reinforces the theories of my favorite superteacher mentor: Carol Dweck. Duckworth explains that learning is based not on natural intelligence but on hard work. She references Dweck’s work around the 5:00 mark:
Duckworth defines “grit” as “passion and perseverance for very long term goals; having stamina; sticking with your future day in and day out FOR YEARS; working really hard to make that future a reality; living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint” (Source). The best part is that grit isn’t even related to natural talent!
Building grit in students is all about encouraging and nurturing the growth mindset. When I first heard of Dweck’s work a year ago, I was blown away. Dweck’s book highlighted everything I’d been experiencing as a teacher, and she helped me to put my teaching philosophy into words.
Dweck’s work also inspired me to teach my college students the growth mindset starting on the first day of every new class. On Day #1, we write down three goals. I have mine, and the students develop theirs. I explain again and again that to be a great public speaker, to be a great presenter, you have to work hard. It’s not about natural talent or charm or charisma… It’s about working your butt off. You can see that all three of my goals encourage that growth mindset. Most students embrace this because most people are comforted by and embrace the growth mindset.
With public speaking and presentation, a growth mindset is essential. A teacher I worked with a few years ago claimed that “charisma” was this innate, natural quality that you were born with… She taught her students that some people had charisma and some didn’t. I find this fixed mindset in the presentation field alarming and damaging. The fixed mindset says you are either born with the ability to present well or you’re not, and if that’s the case, why bother taking a speech class? Why bother taking any classes at all? If you’re born with all the smarts you’ll ever have, education as a whole is pointless!
I highly recommend that you read Dweck’s book and watch Duckworth’s TED Talk. Today, I will be searching for more of Duckworth’s work so that I can see her contributions to the field and learn more about teaching the growth mindset to my students. Superteachers, is it possible to teach the growth mindset to college students? How do we encourage that growth mindset to those super fixed mindset students?
Another huge reason I deactivated my Facebook account was because I found the social networking site becoming more and more invasive and terrifying. People complain about their work on Facebook; post really negative images and ideas; document personal details about their lives; and forget that their every move is behind recorded for eternity.
Juan Enriquez’s TED Talk “Your online life, permanent as a tattoo” explains the now-blurred lines between public and private life. Everything we do on the Internet is our “online tattoo” that will live far longer than we will. To me, this idea is scary.
Of course, Enriquez doesn’t focus exclusively on Facebook, though, I would argue, this is the place people share the most about their private life. Enriquez’s four lessons can help us navigate the online world: 1) be careful what you post; 2) don’t look too far in the past of those you love; 3) remember the purpose (don’t get distracted by those “golden apples”); and 4) don’t fall in love with your own reflection. To be able to follow these lessons, we definitely need perspective. Can you imagine being 13 or 14 years old and understanding the magnitude of what you’re doing online?
What did you think about Enriquez’s TED Talk? How do you maintain your online persona? Is your online tattoo largely positive or negative?