Speech analysis: Hans Rosling “The magic washing machine”

“The magic washing machine” is a very accessible speech that talks about complicate subjects. It is also one of my favourite TED ones. How does Hans Rosling do it? What are secrets of the way he delivers? Let’s watch it first. Take your notes on the items that make it good.

Here are my notes:
1. The structure: it goes around a (personal) story, it starts and ends with it. He also includes multiple references in the main part. I would draw the complete structure as:
* intro: story: when his family got first washing machine
* income levels in the world
* energy use levels in the world
* future: green energy, less consumption in the rich countries
* ending: personal story (what the washing machine changed in the family life)

2. Illustrations: first is of course the washing machine itself that takes the central place on the stage. He uses it very often. It is especially interesting at the end when he gets books out of it.

His slides are also important and illustrative, but secondary. Note that he has photos and simple diagrams. The diagrams are very easy to understand (people images as billions of people, energy units without any detailed value). The diagrams get directly to the point.

3. Fun: the audience laughts very often. Note that he uses a specific type of jokes: it is based on the contrast by what the audience finds normal and what he presents as normal in some time in the past or somewhere else in the world.

Do you have additional points to add? Leave your comment below.

Illustrating Your Point

Good examples are essential in a talk with impact. You explain your point, but the examples convince audience that it is valid.

Please look at this video to see a great illustration of this (the example starts at 1:19):

I would like to note two important points why this example is so effective. First, it is short and up to the point (the behaviour of the monkeys is clear even without the commentary; the video of the experiment is around 1 minute long). Then, it is easy to understand to everyone (all about emotions).

Note also the way to introduce the experiment: the speaker first describes briefly how it works. Then you actually see it. This explanation helps if you don’t see the details on the video (recognize the cocumber pieces from the grapes for example).

Do you have any other talks with great illustrations? Please share them in the comments!