Presentation of Possibility: An Analysis of Skylar Tibbits’ TED Talk

In a 2011 TED Talk, Skylar Tibbits describes an amazing future of manufacturing and creating objects. A trending TED Talk, we decided there must be something there worth exploring and sharing with others. Watch it for yourself before reading on!

We found that, at its core, Skylar’s TED Talk focused on possibility and the steps he and his team had taken to achieve it. By crafting a desired possibility, presenters can shine a positive light on mistakes, while also garnering excitement for the future. After reviewing Skylar’s speech, we compiled a list of actions to complete in your own presentations. Keep in mind these 3 P’s the next time you are preparing to present possibility to audiences:

Pose a question

Right at the beginning – literally in the presentation title – Skylar asks a question. “Can we make things that make themselves?” he ponders. By creating a title slide that doubles as an audience question, you reveal several things about yourself. You show that not only are you analytical and curious, but you are also open to suggestions and opposing opinions. An additional tip: Place yourself in the mindset of your average audience member. What questions might they ask about your topic, product, idea, or service? Write out a list of those questions that relate to the content you want to present and build your presentation title from there.

Provide an overview

It doesn’t matter how you go about it, but please, oh please, let your audience know what to expect from your presentation. The process shouldn’t take longer than a minute. And it’s easy too. Read how Skylar did it:

“I believe that soon our buildings and machines will be self-assembling, replicating and repairing themselves. So I’m going to show you what I believe is the current state of manufacturing, and then compare that to some natural systems.” – Skylar Tibbits

Tell your audience the 3 or 4 main points you plan to discuss over the course of the designated allotment of time. Give them the headlines so that at any point during the talk, they will have a mental grasp on how much longer the presentation might be.

Plan a brief speech

Within a little over 6 minutes, Skylar’s TED Talk envisioned a future of possibility. He offered information on 3 projects related to his presentation message – each involving science-heavy components to explain to the audience.

“So I’m going to show you a number of projects that my colleagues and I at MIT are working on to achieve this self-assembling future.” – Skylar Tibbits

If you’ve listened to his TED Talk, you’ll notice that you don’t always have to dig deep into the weeds on your presentation topic. Keeping it high level and relatively broad can work to your advantage. More attendees will comprehend your message. And more attendees will retain your primary points as well.

Presentation of Possibility: An Analysis of Skylar Tibbits’ TED Talk

Have you ever thought about how cultivating possibility could improve your presentations? Start today! Here are some resources to guide you:

The End: Building Your Presentation Content to a Conclusion

5 Types of TED Talks

What’s Your Presentation Writing Style? [Quiz]

The Role of Fiction in Brand Storytelling

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