Applying Storytelling Techniques to ...


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It’s hard to beat the TED Conferences when it comes to oral storytelling.

It turns out the speakers – or the folks helping the speakers behind the scenes – craft the titles of their talks with the same quest for attention.

Ten of my favorites:

  • Do schools kill creativity?
  • Greening the ghetto
  • Designing the Seattle Central Library (contrarian play … so very dull it gets my attention)
  • How a ragtag band created Wikipedia
  • The universe is queerer than we can suppose
  • What we can learn from spaghetti sauce
  • Why do crack dealers still live with their moms.
  • Three things to know before you ski to the North Pole
  • Why people believe strange things
  • Apes that write, start fires and play Pac-Man

The fun with language, juxtaposition of ideas and a touch of zany make for compelling titles.

I didn’t know crack dealers still live with their moms?

I thought this was an Italian thing where it’s common for sons to live at home well into their 30’s.

I know writing the title for a presentation taking place at the Flash Memory Summit doesn’t quite offer the same opportunity, but just trading out one word or phrase for another can make a difference.

If you’d like to check out all 1252 titles for TED talks delivered prior to June, a Google doc captures them all.

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