Procrastination – Not so bad after all.

I am frequently guilty of procrastination. All my life I have battled with this affliction and seen it as the cause of many of my failures in life. Then today I watched Adam Grants TED talk on original thinkers and discovered that being a procrastinator is not that bad after all. In fact, according to his research, the hallmarks of original thinkers are procrastination, fear and doubt and bad ideas.  Success it seems comes not from eliminating these “bad” habits, but from embracing and managing them more effectively.

So this is definitely a great speech to watch, not just for its inspiring content, but also because it is a great example of a well structured speech. There is a clear single message – How to recognise and become more like Original Thinkers.   These are the people who drive change in the world and are admired by millions because they are so successful. Adam opens his speech with a great self deprecating story that hooks the audience. He introduces us to the concept of PREcrastination instead of PROcrastination and why getting things done well ahead of time is not a good success strategy.

His introduction leaves us asking two questions. How could two individuals with all the hallmarks of potential failure become so successful?  And if they can be so successful then is there hope for me yet?

Adam then explore three characteristics of original thinkers that are surprising and refreshing.   Turns out that these very successful individuals are a lot like us – it’s just that they manage procrastination, fear and doubt and bad ideas better. The speech is packed with lots of research and data but all those facts are neatly converted into memorable stories.

The key to a successful persuasive speech is to create a blend of Aristotle’s three proofs – Ethos (credibility), Logos (facts and statistics)  and Pathos (emotion and stories) and according to author Carmine Gallo these three elements work best when they are distributed in the proportions of 10% ethos, 25% logos and 65% pathos.

Throughout the speech Adam also provides evidence of his credentials.   Not as a big chunk of autobiography, but small slivers of information that let us know that he is a university professor and that this speech is based on years of research with his students. But what makes the speech compelling and memorable is that it is filled with stories, both from his own life, the experiences of his students and stories of successful original thinkers.

If you want a great model for developing a speech then I strongly recommend that you spend twenty minutes and check this speech out now.

Posted in public speaking, TED Talk and tagged , , , .

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