Lets analyze one of the most popular TED Talks of all time…

If you haven’t watched this TED Talk, then make sure you watch it before reading the rest of this.

What’s so great about this talk? Lets analyze it…


The best speeches (ever), talk about something greater than them; They all have context.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech” had a racial context.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address had the civil war context.

Every ‘best speech ever’ is more than just a speech…it’s a movement.

And that’s what this TED Talk has…it has that ‘movement’ context to it…a movement on Education.

This talk was given in 2006, and during that time, you didn’t hear much about ‘education’ needing to be revamped. Everyone knew it should…but nobody was on a big platform saying it…until his presentation.

If Ken Robinson gave a speech about ‘coffee mugs,’ then he could have added humor and delivered it the same way, but the speech wouldn’t have been as popular because ‘coffee mugs’ don’t have a bigger context.

So by tackling the problem of Education, Ken Robinson already started on the path to one of the most popular TED Talks.

If you’re creating a presentation, and you want your presentation to be epic…you have to realize that it starts with context…it starts with something bigger than you and your speech.

Why did Steve Jobs always create great presentations?

Because it wasn’t about the ‘product’…it was about ‘making a dent in the universe.’

Start with the context.

And now it’s time to get to the presentation…

Capture Attention With Humor

Ken Robinson starts by capturing attention, using humor. Within a couple of seconds, he’s already made the audience laugh…and when you make people laugh, they like you more.

But at the same time, he’s giving props to the TED Talks.

A lot of speakers make the mistake of going ‘against’ the audience. And it’s usually a subtle remark the speaker makes that creates a ‘me vs you (audience)’ type of vibe. And by doing this, the audience becomes less interested in the speaker.

But Ken Robinson does the opposite.

He makes everyone feel like they’re part of the same group, and uses humor to build great rapport. Within a few seconds, he has the audience laughing multiple times.

Frame The Presentation

Now, Ken Robinson does what all great speakers do…he starts framing the audience.

The audience has to know what his presentation is about. And in some way or another, they have to know what they get out of it.

It’s easy to capture an audience’s attention because all you have to do is create a pattern interrupt. But it’s a lot harder to keep that attention. And that’s where framing comes into play.

In his TED Talk, he starts to tell people what they’re about to get from him and he puts the context into…education.

Imagine you’re sitting in the audience and you see a goofy looking guy on stage. You don’t know what he’s going to talk about but at least he made you laugh within a couple of seconds…so you give him your attention…for now.

But what’s next?

Are you going to keep listening just because he was ‘Mr. Funny Man’ for a few seconds?


He better have something good to say. And more importantly, you need to know what he wants to talk about.

So he starts putting things into context for you.

And Ken Robinson does that by talking about a kid who gave a presentation earlier in the TED Talks (he said that she was great), and then he says…

All kids have talent and we squander them.

Not only does that line keep your attention, but it creates curiosity.

You’re wondering… ‘How are we destroying our kids?’

Ken Robinson then tells you why you need to listen. He says that he’s going to talk about education and creativity. And he does this because you need to be in the right state of mind before listening to the rest of the presentation.

Making Them Laugh

One thing that this TED Talk does really well is mix humor with insight.

You can tell that Ken Robinson is a smart guy, but he also has a sense of humor.

Within a couple minutes of his talk, he tells the audience that…

Creativity is as important in education as literacy. We should treat it with the same status.

The audience claps…

…And then he says,

That was it. Thank you very much.

And the audience laughs again.

I’m pretty sure this was unplanned because he didn’t know the audience would clap at that moment. (Which shows that Ken Robinson knows how to ad humor to his presentations by taking advantage of the right moments.)

He couldn’t have predicted that the audience would clap at that specific moment…but when they did, he took advantage of it to get more humor out of the presentation.

So far, the entire audience loves this guy.

He’s captured their attention, he’s made them laugh (multiple times), and his presentation is about a movement (better education).

All of this happens within 3 minutes of his presentation…and he has the audience is the palm of his hands.

Ken Robinson then continues with a couple of funny stories/jokes…which once again, makes the audience love him.

But the funny stories have a purpose. And the purpose is tied directly into his presentation about how kids are creative (and educated destroys that creativity).

These funny stories also create the frame for the content.

His content is this…

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you won’t come up with anything original.

And by telling the audience a story/joke before delivering his content, he’s indirectly telling the audience how to think about his content.

As a speaker, if you tell someone something directly, they can question it.

But if you let them figure it out themselves, it must be true.

So when Ken Robinson frames his content, (“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you won’t come up with anything original”) the audience now understands why he was telling the stories/jokes and then they see the metaphor themselves. They see ‘why’ he told those stories.


Lets speed up through the rest of the presentation, because like most great presentations, he builds everything up, to prove a point.

In fact, if you take a look at the most popular TED Talks, and you listen very closely, you’ll notice that they all follow a similar pattern. The entire presentation is ‘framing’ the audience…setting up the audience…for the one moment, the one idea, the one thing the speaker wants to communicate (at the end).

Introducing The Solution

Most of the presentation talks about the problem.

He talks about how people consider math important, but not dance. He talks about how education isn’t working the way it should. And he keeps pounding the point of how education has failed us.

Ken Robinson’s presentation is a great example of how to find rich men because most of the talk is centered around the problem.

And if people don’t know they have a problem, they won’t look for a solution.

…Ken has to make sure that the audience is truly irritated by the fact that education isn’t what it should be.

Once he gets people there, ‘mentally,’ now he can provide the solution.

We have to re-think the fundamental principles upon which we’re educating our children…we may not see the future, but they will. And our job is to make something of it.