top of page

Time for a TED Talk Analysis

Introduction I had the pleasure of analyzing the TED talk The Future of The Food Ecosystem – And The Power of Your Plate. The speaker, Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli focused on the importance of making healthy food accessible for everyone so we can stop food waste. She also discussed ways we could build quality and equitable food system to nourish everyone. Ndidi does this by explaining ways in which some cultures in Africa are using science and technology to help farmers double their produce without harming the environment (Nwuneli, 2021). This speech was given with visual presentation and narration.

To analyze this TED talk, let’s take a look at The Zombie Guide To Public Speaking by Steve Vrooman and the Speaking Rubric to look closely at the following:

  • Organization

  • Introductions and Conclusions

  • Narrative

  • Slideworks

Although Ndidi used other focal points in her presentation, we will take a deeper look at the above due to the nature of the presentation. The topics above were used from start to finish and were worth noting (at least I think).

Organization

Let’s first look at Organization (as I progress through the analysis, I will reference the rubric on and off).


In The Zombie Guide To Public Speaking, Vrooman mentions “we’ve got to balance motivation and ability by constantly providing things that are simple and things that are complex” (p. 79). Ndidi has a complex topic of food ecosystem. She is trying to explain the importance of how the food we eat matters to a room full of American’s. It was very important for Ndidi to keep this topic as organized as possible to help a society that thrives on fast food understand why our food system is broken.


Ndidi begins her speech with a story about the meaning of her name and what she studied in school. She also mentions how she started working in Corporate America (will touch base on the narrative later). I share this to say, Ndidi did a great job with her transitions. Every point she made pivoted from the last. From the beginning to the end, she maintained a succinct structure building from the original story. Her speech went as followed:

Origin of name and what she loved to do

Transition

The first major food crisis in her adult life worldwide

Used the origin of her name connect it to her now work on food crisis

Naming the three lens we need to help food ecosystem

How South Africa is making a positive contribution to the food ecosystem



Connectives

World topics such as agriculture and food can be dense for some; especially some Americans where “as many as 1 out of every 3 Americans are eating fast food every single day” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018). Ndidi transitioned between every main point and used the origin of her name a few times to transition. For example, she would say, “if you are as impatient as I am,” then transition to her next point. She didn’t do it every time, but the word “impatient” or “patience” was a tool she used throughout her speech to remind the audience about the process of the food ecosystem; it didn’t become broken overnight, but we all have a role to play. Ndidi didn’t use the term loosely and incorporated it into the dense material.


Internal Previews & Summaries

As we dive further into our (you like that, “our” although you’re reading and I’m typing) analysis, internal previews were not used, but a summary was. Instead of utilizing internal previews, the speaker chose to dive right into the content. There was a flow to her presentation (see previous funnel). Could an internal preview have worked for the speaker? Possibly, but it wasn’t necessary. Ndidi transitioned well enough to keep the attention of those who paid attention. For those that are listening, it’s good to create and sustain a connection (Vrooman, 2015).


Introduction and Conclusion

The introduction did include the, “Hi, I’m [blank],” but it worked because her name has a meaning that related directly to the audience. The good thing about her introduction was that she didn’t include, “and today I will be talking to you about.” Her Introduction was the beginning of a narrative that set the tone for conversation and smooth transitions. Now could Ndidi have rearranged this a bit, definitely, but it seems as though she needed to get to the point due to the nature of the presentation. If you’re a speaker about to present a segment on climate change or the food ecosystem, you better have a great way to approach it. The food ecosystem is one of those topics that will put people to sleep because some feel clueless about their role (others could honestly care less and believe it doesn’t affect them).


Ndidi introduced the audience with a narrative (will get to later), intertwined with a visual aid on the rising food prices between 2005-2007. The introduction was about 2 minutes and the term “food ecosystem” came in around 1:27. The introduction wasn’t a total game changer, but the story did help set the tone. I am appreciative that the speaker didn’t waste the first 30 seconds on statistics. Statistics came in around the 1:45 mark, but very briefly.


She didn’t establish credibility either. I didn’t know who she was until reading the summary about her and visiting her website. Was it safe for the audience to assume who she was because this was her second TED talk? Was it safe for them to assume everything she was saying was accurate? The credibility didn’t have to be a long-drawn-out process, but it could've been helpful.


Conclusion

Ndidi uses “retrospective function” and “anticipatory function” Vrooman discusses in chapter 6. Ndidi reminded us of what she spoke about and clarified how we want the future generations to view food. Ndidi does this by placing a picture of two smiling children on the screen with the quote “we must leave a healthy sustainable and equitable food ecosystem for future generations” (Nwuneli, 2021). The picture of the children gives the “aww” factor. We could say this was the final emotional connection with the audience to remind them of our choices in food (Vrooman, 2015).


Intermission

Let’s take a brief intermission!


Here is a random picture of green vegetables I found on Wix. The TED talk was about food ecosystem, so I hope you feel the need to eat veggies!




So far, we have discussed organization, introductions and conclusions. The TED talk does a great job in multiple areas with a dense topic. There are a few areas where the speaker could’ve added content (the credibility), but it didn’t take away from the talk.


Let's continue!


Narrative

Ndidi uses narrative at the beginning of the talk. Vrooman mentions, “Stories work, but the world is full of them. How do you make them work the best” (p. 170). The purpose of the narrative was definitely purposeful. Ndidi spoke about the meaning of her name and made that connection to the audience later (we’re all at some point impatient).


The story was relevant to the talk, and it did “help the conversation along.... into a maze” (Vrooman, 2015, p. 172). Remember the maze here is about the food ecosystem, very lengthy and dense material. In her narrative, Ndidi spoke about her name and its meaning and described how her life has been the opposite of name. She speaks about being impatient throughout the talk (as mentioned earlier) to give the audience a connection to the reality of our food ecosystem and what it will take to fix it.


Ndidi also took some time to get personal and let the audience know (right after giving the meaning of her name), where she was born; in a parking lot of the hospital (Nwuneli, 2021). She framed this in a way to give the audience a chance to chuckle a little before talking about the material. She also said how she always loved agriculture as a small child; this turned into rising food prices.


Her narrative was needed!


Slideworks

For the entire presentation, there were only 6 slides, all containing pictures. The first two slides had numerical data. One of the pictures are as follows:


Figure 1


This chart is visually easy to read. It could’ve been more helpful to show this, then zoom in on the last column of “True Food Cost” because that’s the area the presentation focused on. The good news is, there weren’t many bars on the chart to get confused, but the graph is so simple, it is easy to get confused. Take note of the middle section.; it reads “2.1 trillion”, but the description of the bar doesn’t do it justice. This is one of those moments where we want to “given them the big complexity and then take it away and build it further” (Vrooman, 2015, p. 230).


Right before this, was slide of a funnel going upwards with more percentages of the rising food costs of corn, wheat, rice and soya. The picture showed a long arrow pointing upwards to represent the drastic increase. Was the picture helpful? Partially, but we could’ve done without it. Were they filler images, not necessarily, but the speaker could’ve spoken about this without showing an image with a huge arrow pointing upwards.


The main three points were also on the presentation on separate slides. The points were on a dark green background with white words. The slides didn’t have anything other than the words which were helpful.


Overall, the slideshow didn’t take away from the speaker, but the numerical graphs could've been portrayed better.


Let’s Wrap It Up!

This TED talk was overall pretty good. There were a few points that could’ve been reworked a bit including the graphs, but not too shabby for a dense topic. This TED talk was worth it for what it was.


We discussed organization, introductions/conclusions, narrative and slideworks. Each element provided the speaker with a way to get through the presentation as smoothly as possible. Could this presentation have been done in a different format? Yes, but the speaker gave the audience what they felt was appropriate.

Thank you for sticking with me this long!


References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Fast food consumption among adults in the united states, 2013–2016. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db322.htm


Nwuneli, N. O. (2021, December). The future of the food ecosystem – and the power of your plate [Video]. TED Conferences. https://www.ted.com/talks/ndidi_okonkwo_nwuneli_the_future_of_the_food_ecosystem_and_the_power_of_your_plate


The Rockerfeller Foundation (2021). Estimated True Food Cost in The U.S. [Photograph]. The Rockerfeller Foundation. https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/


Vrooman, S. S. (2015). The zombie guide to public speaking (2nd ed.). Createspace. ISBN: 978151337799


Wix (2023). Green Vegetables. [Photograph]. Wix.com

26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

5 Takeaways!

After reading and analyzing Ruben and Gigilotti’s Leadership, Communication, and Social Influence : A Theory of Resonance, Activation, and Cultivation (I know, long name, right), there are 5 key takea

Comentários


bottom of page