How to Sound Smart In a TED Talk

There are plenty of outstanding lectures that come from TED, a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged in 1984. Aptly and succinctly called TED Talks, these lectures can introduce bold new ideas, demonstrate exciting inventions, showcase performances, highlight science and discovery, call attention to important issues and more. They’ve become rather popular in education recently, because of their concise nature for all being 18 minutes or less. But how are TED Talks so compelling?

Will Stephen, a writer on Saturday Night Live, put together a TEDx Talk (a lecture at a more localized TED event) about how to sound smart in a TED Talk. While Stephen repeats that he has absolutely nothing to say in this TEDx Talk, this is actually a brilliant breakdown about how orators use harmless tricks to keep our attention. On the surface, it’s a parody of a TED Talk, but there’s more to it than comedic value.

This just goes to show you how people can make something that is essentially pointless sound thoughtful and intelligent. There are many TED Talks that follow this kind of formula, but it’s the content that makes each one appealing in their own way. It’s almost like how comic book movies share extremely similar elements, but each one changes things up just enough to (hopefully) make them feel fresh.

Will Stephen still writes for SNL and has written sketches like “Drake’s Beef,” featuring the chart-topping hip-hop artist finding plenty of things to get pissed at cast members about. I wonder if he could write something like this breaking down the delivery of stand-up comedy or certain sketches on Saturday Night Live. That would be tricky to write, but fascinating nonetheless.

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