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ConnecTED Speaking Series: Lessons on simplicity, lightness of touch and the power of three

Beverley Glick

As part of our ConnecTED Speaking Series, TED-style speaking specialist Beverley Glick looks at examples of TED talks to see what we can learn from this powerful short-talk format.

Talk title: A beginner’s guide to quantum computing 

Speaker: Shohini Ghose

Venue and date: TEDWomen 2018, November 2018

Synopsis: A quantum computer isn’t just a more powerful version of the computers we use today; it’s something else entirely, based on emerging scientific understanding – and more than a bit of uncertainty. Enter the quantum wonderland with TED Fellow Shohini Ghose and learn how this technology holds the potential to transform medicine, create unbreakable encryption and even teleport information.

What we love about this talk: 

  • She immediately engages the audience by inviting them to imagine they’re in Las Vegas, playing a simple coin-flip game – before linking this to what might happen if you played on a quantum computer.
  • She uses a simple visual comparison – of a candle and a lightbulb – to demonstrate that a quantum computer is not just a more powerful version of our current computers.
  • She interacts with the audience by showing them the results of a game she invited them to play before the talk (the quantum computer won almost every game).
  • She makes the complex plain (one of the TED commandments) – explaining how a quantum computer operates by saying: “It’s kind of like stirring a mixture of two fluids. Whether or not you stir, the fluids remain in a mixture.”
  • She uses the “power of three” – three examples of how quantum technology could change our lives (un-hackable digital keys, quantum simulations for drug development, teleportation of information). 
  • Her natural authority, which is balanced by her warmth: “It’s a lot of fun being a quantum physicist – I highly recommend it!”

Idea worth spreading: I see quantum computers as a way for us to probe the mysteries of nature and reveal more about this hidden world outside of our experiences. The future is fundamentally uncertain, and that is exciting. 

What we would do to improve this talk: Ask her to imagine there’s a golden thread pulling her up through the top of her head, so that she stands at her full height, her shoulders are pulled back and her chest opens up. And maybe ask her to do a little intentional movement rather than staying rooted to the spot.

Top marks for: Making the complex plain, relatable examples, lightness of touch, the power of three.

Ginger’s TED-style speaking programmes transform the impact of presentations, pitches and other business communications scenarios. Find out more about how we can help your team here

Beverley Glick

An award-winning public speaker and storytelling expert, Beverley is an experienced lead trainer who specialises in TED-style speaker coaching and training.

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