John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!

This talk by John McWhorter is another of my favorites from TED 2013. It’s elegant, witty, informative, intelligent, entertaining, persuasive. This is so because McWhorter only gives one talk here. Allow me to say more about what I mean by that.

Something which I’ve noticed lately is the communicative power of extremely simple (almost “non-designed”) text slides like those used by McWhorter in this talk. As a speaker, when you employ projected imagery to help communicate the points of your lecture, you increase the risk of distracting your audience from the content delivered by your own voice. What I mean is that if the image you project doesn’t exactly follow the words you speak, or easily relate to them, all of a sudden you’re asking your audience to process two streams of loosely connected information. That’s a difficult task and a big ask, because you’re essentially asking your audience to process and understand two talks in parallel.

1DR -— how does this happen?

I am guilty of this transgression. I find that the probability of inflicting this harm on your audience increases when you choose imagery not of your own creation, be it a stock photo or an image that’s almost to your point, but not quite. Unsolicited advice: if the image you project isn’t the thing you’re talking about, choose a different image. Or forgo the image altogether. Better to take McWhorter’s path and employ very simple slides with very carefully selected letters and words… just a few. And those words should match those coming out of your mouth, so that the visuals reinforce what you’re saying, instead of competing with it.

This doesn’t apply to talks whose entire point is to show visual content, of course. With those, let it all run free in maximum technicolor glory.

Hope this isn’t 2M2H. 10X. 86!