Mitch Harrison

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I need a TED icebreaker video! How do I get someone hooked?

I strongly feel like exposing high school and college students could really change our future, because we are the future. I find, however, showing someone a video with someone talking about statistics or dependence on oil doesn't particularly peak the interest of most of my fellow students. I need a talk that is exciting or up-beat or something! I want to get my generation's foot in the TED door. Maybe we can start spreading all of these "ideas worth spreading"!

  • May 29 2012: Here is a wicked mashup intro!!!!!!

    Alternatively, show someone something that conflicts with their beliefs or knowledge and that person probably won't be able to help themself from making a profile just to comment...

    Choose a tag
    Then find something hard to accept at face value

    For non-conformists, I might recommend one of the following:

    Or for novelty-seekers:
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    Aja B.

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    May 29 2012: Hi Mitch!

    I'd think anything by Ken Robinson would be a big hit with high schoolers! :) And another favorite of mine is Brene Brown's "The Power of Vulnerability": . I think Brene's laid-back speaking style and insights into what it means to be human would make it pretty interesting and relevant for teenagers.

    You could also take a look at some of our Theme pages, like "How We Learn": , lots of good stuff there! :)
  • May 28 2012: Sir Ken Robinsons talk about how School Kill Creativity.

    When I heard it I was thrilled to hear a world expert talk about the profoundly damaging aspect of western education that is predominantly science based (conform and compete) over creative curriculums that nurture lateral thinking and song, dsnce and movement (explore and expand).
    Sir Kens talk resonated very much with a piece I wrote many years ago after meeting so many lost poets, traumatised visionaries, paralysed dancers and magicians with mental ilness in homeless shelters and refuges. Here is the story of how the education system creates so many of traumatised "Magical Children in Exile" who believe "I am not creative"
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    May 27 2012: Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music

    Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors

    Clifford Stoll on ... everything
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      May 29 2012: The Bobby McFerrin Video is a favorite. I have tested this with an audience to break the ice at a TEDx Event. It worked wonderfully well. People can relate immediately to the fact that that are the audience.

      Also, Derek Sivers on "How to Start a Movement" also immediately puts the audience on the side where they could relate from a social/popular psychology perspective.
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    May 27 2012: Know your audience, then make a choice.

    Suggestions: (1) Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice, (2) Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius, (3) Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense, (4) Chimamanda Adichie shares the danger of a single story, (5) Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity...
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      May 27 2012: I think it really depends on your audience as T.T. Chung said above and agree with those talks mentioned. So depending on them, I would recommend:
      Rory Sutherland - Lessons from an Ad Man -
      Juan Enriquez - Future
      Hans Rosling - Statistics
      Steward Brand - Environment
      Matthieu Ricard - Happiness
      John Klein - Innovation of Crows
      Chris Jordan - Art
      Dan Barber - Food
      Bjarke Ingels - Architect
      Nicholas Christakis - Networks
      Derek Silvers - Following
      Deb Roy - Information
      Sal Khan - Education
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    May 27 2012: I think if you want to get students interested, the Kenneth Robinson one on how schools stifle creativity is probably the one that is most approachable and probably feels immediately relevant. It sounds irreverent, though most people who hear it agree with it. So for many students, it may offer the satisfying feeling of being different together.

    Another that might grab students' interest is Steven Job's commencement address at Stanford, because he is such an idol to so many.

    Another, and for similar reason, might be JKRowling's commencement address at the Harvard 2008 commencement..

    Many people also love Elizabeth Gilbert's talk.

    These don't require a person to know anything about the topic, and most kids will probably feel like they agree with the speaker to a large degree but that not everyone would.
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    May 27 2012: Mitch, great idea!
    Did you happen to see Jonathan Foley: The other inconvenient truth? He has quite a good short video at the end of his talk. It is approachable and interesting to me at least. I hope I am on track here. Good luck!
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    Jun 4 2012: Suggest you show them Sir Ken Robinson's talk "are schools killing creativity"
    Both inspirational, and quite humorous.
    It's why I signed up to TED!
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    Jun 1 2012: This is a funny topic! I like this question.

    I found that one of these two videos will hook most people.

    Hope this has helped. =)
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    May 30 2012: Good question! I use Ted Talks often and can't always predict which ones will really resonate with students and which will leave them cold. But in general shorter is better. One TED Talk my class got excited about was Bart Weetjens, "How I Taught Rats to Sniff Out Land Mines" (12 min).
  • May 28 2012: Many kids identify most with music, so I recommend:
    - Eric Whitacre: A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong (This is the one I use to show people first)
    - Benjamin Zander on music and passion
    Then after that, maybe:
    - Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen
    - Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors

    You could also go with a hot topic and have them debate it out. Religion always gets a ton of responses on TED and Youtube. I'd start out with something funny like "Julia Sweeney on letting go of God," then move on to "Dan Dennett's response to Rick Warren" and "Tom Honey on God and the tsunami." "James Randi's fiery takedown of psychic fraud" is more about spirits than God, but can be used as a stepping stone to talk about religion too.

    Kids may be able to relate to someone closer to their age, like Sarah Kay "Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter ..." Rives is also popular with youth.

    Personally, I don't know anyone who doesn't love nature videos! Check out Thiery Thys, Sheila Patek, Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, Robert Full, Deborah Gordon, David Gallo, Jane Goodall . .

    And space videos are great at creating wonder, too. "Carolyn Porco flies us to Saturn" is fantastic.

    (Sorry if that's overload, I've been watching A LOT of TED talks recently, haha! Good luck!)
  • May 28 2012: A good opener is the talk by Bunker Roy on his Barefoot Movement. It's message is simple and a testament to open-mindedness, the art of the possible and challenging deep rooted paradigms and assumptions. It's also a wonderful example of what can be achieved when you conceive and believe. The takeaway message is that no matter what the situation you find yourself you can, with the help of others, still achieve some wonderful things. Enjoy!! PS. Ken Robinson stuff is good too!!
  • May 27 2012: i think this is a nice ice breaker for youngsters:;search%3Atedxteen
    On a more 'cool science' level : :)
    hope you like them!
  • May 27 2012: While I may not be able to recommend a specific video, I can offer some advice on what type you may want to consider choosing. Being a student myself, I find that videos with visual effects are what first got me hooked.
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    May 27 2012: Good idea Mitch!
    Maybe there is not ONE "icebreaker video"? There are so many good educational entertaining videos, at so many levels, it is difficult to imagine that one video would appeal to everyone. My TED introductions to other people have often come about because of a particular topic or issue we are discussing. When I know what interests each individual, it often reminds me of a video I've seen on TED, so I send them the link.

    I have lots of friends who teach in elementary, high school and university levels. Sometimes, they tell me about a particular subject they are teaching in a class, and I send videos that may be connected. I have created a few "TED addicts"...LOL:>) Perhaps you can introduce TED videos in your own classes when appropriate?

    When you have conversations with your friends, be aware of their special interests, that may connect with something you have watched on TED, and you can introduce them with a video that is in line with their interests.

    You definitely ARE our future and I LOVE your enthusiasm....have fun exploring:>)
    I notice that music is your passion...I assume you've explored all the great music related videos on TED?
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      May 27 2012: I absolutely have! My personal favorite music-related talk is "Benjamin Zander on music and passion". Check it out, if you haven't yet. Cheers.
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        May 27 2012: Hi Mitch,
        I watched "Benjamin Zander on music and passion" a LONG time ago....isn't he delightful?
        He projects so much joy and passion for/with music...I LOVE it:>) Cheers!

        p.s. Here is my comment after watching his talk:>)
        Colleen Steen
        Mar 7 2010: Great talk on so many levels. Delightful...blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused! Benjamin shares the wonderful gifts of experiencing laughter, excitement, enthusiasm, music and compassion. The greatest gift of all, is to be able to experience the beautiful possibilities within the interconnections:>)I used to love classical I adore it:>)
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        May 27 2012: I totally agree on this one...he is so passionate about music that even me that can't sing a note knows better about a note now and definitely not referring to the monetary one...
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        May 27 2012: Barend,
        Glad you know more about the notes now, and I believe that anyone who can speak, can sing:>)

        See Mitch...this is how we get people "hooked" on anything...with passion, humor, joy, excitement, enthusiasm...experiencing the possibilites!! This is all my humble opinion:>)
  • Jun 10 2012: What if you gave the assignment for each student to explore TED and submit the talk that resonates with them the most? Each week one student's submission would be selected, reviewed and discussed.
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    Jun 9 2012: Dear Mitch,

    Of the TED Talks that I shared with my students these are a few that they found either inspirational, interesting, amazing, funny, thought-provoking.

    Sunni Brown – Doodler, unite!

    Neil Pasricha – The 3 A’s of Awesome

    Charlie Todd – The shared experience of absurdity

    Julian Treasure – 5 Ways to listen better

    Eric Whitacre – A virtual choir 2000 voices strong

    I hope this is helpful to you.

    Kind regards,
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    Jun 8 2012: Try the first one I ever saw. An amazingly engaging conversation about music, learning and life. Hooked me, although I am not the demographic you are discussing I think this one is for everyone.
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    Jun 7 2012: Click on "Rated Jaw-Dropping" or "Popular this Month" for some absolutely great talks.

    However, one of my favorites is: "Are We Born to Run?" by Christopher McDougall.

    It's human, it's relevant, and it's pretty "out there." Even if you don't believe the message, it gets you thinking.
  • Jun 7 2012: Theo Jansen creates life from plastic tubing. A picture is worth 1000 words; this video ten million.
  • Jun 4 2012: "Marco Tempest: The magic of truth and lies" may work. It's both entertaining and very creative.
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    May 31 2012: Hi Mitch.

    I've found that peoples attention span are a bit short. So what I do with my friends that have these short attention spans is that I show the the shorter TED Talks that I'm sure will interest and amaze them, it's also all about knowing your audience. and choosing the appropriate time for the appropriate Talk.

    I've been thinking a lot lately about how I first got hooked on TED and I recently remembered that I started with the shorter Talks that were also humerus. Providing instant satisfaction for people that are not really accustomed to viewing learning as fun may be key here.

    Further more, spreading TED Talks to the appropriate social media platform channels is also really good for opening peoples eyes to TED.
    For example I shared the Talk both on some Cancer groups on Facebook and Tweeted the Talk with #Cancer. I've done the same for spreading it to the Swedish teacher unions' Facebook page and so on.

    I've also used the "A Taste of TED" video on a lecture I had on social media for some politicians here in my home town, It's a good summary of what TED is.
  • May 29 2012: You might want to check one of Brajke Ingels's talks. They are fascinating, to say the least. Also, the guy is ridicoulously fun to listen to, so my choice would go on one of these.

    edit: I just noticed someone already reccomended it, so it's not just my impression of him.
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    May 28 2012: YOU cannot get anyone hooked. That is their pleasure. You can expose them to TED and show them the themes / tags alpha listing and let them choose their subject based on their likes. Don't push. All the best. Bob
  • May 28 2012: I would start with the end and ask your audience to imagine the world 50 years into the future, how they will feel if the world kept heading on a destructive course? How will they feel if no one got involved to help make some changes, because everyone assumed someone else was working on the problems? Something along those lines.

    Engaging the audience with feelings can be very powerful.
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    May 28 2012: Mitch,
    Simple, find what excites your audience and target your selection to that.... In a Law class (or Statistics) try $8 billion IPod. In a music (or a social justice Class) class try Morely Sings or Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen. In a Poli-Sci class try T. Boone Pickens.

    Ted isn't so much about "upbeat" (although many talks are) as it is about igniting possibilities (lighting the fuse of imagination as it were)... in theory this is also what schools are supposed to be about. So quiz them to find the "what ifs" that make their eyes light up and gives them the "AhHA!". You might also consider using some of the stuff from Rocky Mountain Institute...
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    May 27 2012: Great idea !

    Very difficult to pick one from so many but my suggestion would be about The Venus Project by Jaque Fresco.

    It surely would stimulate young minds creativity and will give hope for a future where the Resouce-Based-Economy model is of the essence.

    I haven't looked at the one by Sir Ken Robinson that says schools kill creativity but i feel it goes hand in hand with what my suggestion is.