When TED Does It Right

I know that TED talks have many fans. They’re slickly produced, blessedly short and focused on fresh ideas and issues. Plenty of positives. I only wish I could like the average TED talk more than I do.

Why? Because at times, I feel as though the speakers are manipulating my emotions in an overtly Spielbergian way. The presentations come off as staged and glib, and we’re shown only the best, most beautiful aspects of what is probably a far more complex and ambiguous concept. They’re like very small IMAX films sans the celebrity voice-over. A neatly tied present where the box and wrapping are far more pleasing than the Olive Garden gift card inside.

The talks I dread most are those where the speakers begins to break up, emotionally overcome, as they work to their dramatic conclusion. I have witnessed this several times, and it gets old. Why can’t he or she hold back the tears, I wonder, as the speaker relives what is clearly a well-practiced storyline. And so I begin to pull away from the narrative, which now comes off as disingenuous.

So why do I still watch TED videos? Because an amazing talk does occasionally come along that ends up having a tremendous impact on my life. The one below, from Joe Smith, is less than five minutes long, and it gives a simple, almost elegant solution to the issue of paper waste. After watching this one last year, I have wholly adopted Joe Smith’s hand washing process, and not only are my hands clean, but so is my conscience. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “When TED Does It Right

  1. Larry, Just found your blog while checking in at LinkedIn! You are now in my feedly feed along with the rest of my “teachers.”

    I just happened across Joe’s Ted Talk last week and now I cannot dry my hands any other way (except I have reduced the number of shakes to 6 instead of 12. 12 was a bit uncomfortable, especially in crowded bathrooms…) I have even used his technique for the automatic dispensers that dispense too much paper towel and it worked like a charm.

    The “Terry Moore: How to tie your shoes” talk was also a good one. I had been tying my shoes wrong my entire life. It’s been harder to change but I’m still working on it…

  2. Pingback: When and Why to Use Your Web Site | Wry Observations, Hold the Ham

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