How to be a thought leader
Pat Kelly narrates the format of every single TED talk in detail – and demonstrates how painfully easy it is to use form and style to portray yourself as being much smarter and your ideas as more important than they actually are.
It’s pure gold – because he nails all the little tropes exactly right. You’ll never be able to watch a TED talk the same way, or as seriously, again. Which is probably good – because it is a form of emotional and intellectual manipulation. TED talks show that even supposedly smart and sophisticated people are just as susceptible.
Emotional and intellectual manipulation like he demonstrates isn’t new. These exact same kinds of tropes exist everywhere. Paul E.T. shows how easily you can make a $70 Netflix documentary and can get your audience to believe any point you want. Most Hollywood movies use the Save the Cat narrative structure to make audiences believe or feel emotionally connected to whatever theme the narrative structure dictates. All of this without having an honest debate on the facts of the subject.
Today in startup culture we see stealth mode digital nomads iterate passionately and create paradigm shifting disruptive PoC’s that will transform a traditional marketspace with ephemeral apps and portals! They are the Uber for your laundry! We’re the Shapchat for your groceries! Yet, despite all the million and even billion dollar valuations, the majority of these Forbes 30 under 30 disruptors are now in, or facing, very real jail time for basic fraud and lies. It turns out so much was based on buzzy marketing with no substance. It should not have been a surprise either – so many of these ideas promised things that were not economically viable to downright scientifically impossible. Yet VC’s and the smartest people in the room ate them up.
The reality is that we are in an era in which FORM and STYLE are used to convey meaning and manipulate us into taking a side or believing an assertion more than actual facts. This isn’t just about fake news or biased social media posts, the fact this works on TED talk audiences shows that even those that consider themselves educated and refined can easily fall for this kind of emotional and intellectual manipulation.