Do Schools Kill Creativity ?

August 7, 2015.  Improve Your Presentations. Study the Best TED Speakers.

Ken Robinson:  Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Most Viewed TED Talk of All Time.

Sir Ken Robinson—Creativity Expert, Author and Educator.

We continue our series of featuring selected TED speakers—who you may want to study for tips on improving your own speaking and presentation skills.

This time we feature Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk on how he believes our school systems kill creativity—the most viewed TED talk of all time with more than 34 million views on alone.

TED@Monterey, California, 2006. 34 million views on

As with other great speakers, it is easy to be taken in by the talk itself—not paying attention to how he delivers his talk. If you take note of his delivery, however, you will see that he uses a number of highly effective techniques to engage his audience and get his message across.

As you will see when you watch his talk above, using humour and telling stories are key elements of his speaking style—making what could be a dry topic (education) anything but dry!

And note how a number of his stories are not directly related to the topic as such, but used very effectively and naturally to tie different parts of his talk together—partly for comic relief in between his serious points.

The speaking delivery techniques he is using are too numerous for all of them to be commented on, but here are some worthy of special note:

Opening.  A rather surprising, and funny, opening—using a question and unexpected statement to catch attention and laughter.  “In fact, I am leaving”, he suddenly says—just 35 seconds into the talk.

Voice. To me, one of his greatest speaking skills is how he varies his voice and pitch throughout the talk—speaking in a very natural, conversational style—making you feel he is talking directly talking to you, as if in a one-to-one conversation.

Pause. Excellent and effective use of pauses—before and after important statements—for emphasis, to get attention, and to avoid interrupting people’s thoughts and laughter.

Posture.  Very centered and solid. His position remains unchanged for most of his talk—instead he uses voice, hand gestures and continuous ‘scan and stop’ eye contact; creating a very dynamic delivery and close engagement with the audience.

A true presentation classic.

Trond Varlid

To access more TED videos:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.