This video is at once a parody and a brilliant deconstruction of the TED talk, in which an expert distills a lifetime of professional experience into a presentation shorter than the average US commute. The mannerisms, the setting, even the quick-focus camera work and cuts to the audience are spot-on. [Click here if the embedded video doesn't display.]
I've seen some brilliant TED talk videos, such as Benjamin Zander's astonishing lecture/demonstration on the transformative power of classical music. But the proliferation of the TED phenomenon raises some questions about the distillation of expertise into what are essentially trailers for more vast and complex fields of study. I enjoyed Brene Brown's piece on the importance of vulnerability, but it would be a mistake for me to walk away thinking I have a complex understanding of this complex aspect of human psychology, or the competing theories of those who research it.
Mostly, though, the video reminds me that TED has become a format unto itself, a shibboleth that signals expertise. Could you place anyone up on that stage, in appropriate attire and with some key visuals, and with some reasonable preparation portray them convincingly as someone we should be listening to?
Maybe that's not such a terrible thing. Is there a TED talk in every one of us? It's worth considering what yours might be.