Malcolm Gladwell— Setting the stage for the unheard story of David and Goliath

My analysis of this TED talk given by Malcom Gladwell begins at 0:45 and ends around 1:05. To summarize, he explains the long told story of David and Goliath in detail. He explains the lore in great detail for the first half of the video and then goes into other extraneous facts such as how the traditions of war had often resulted in one on one combat and how a certain type of soldier in the armies only had one job of being a “slinger” to volley a barrage of rocks at the attacking enemy. He then goes into the possible weaknesses of the giant; he describes the giant as being slow to react with poor vision, possibly diagnosed with “giantism” or with acromegaly. The main argument that he presents is that giants may seem very intimidating, but they may not be as strong as they seem.

To set the stage for this commonly known story, Gladwell goes into the lesser known facts of the story. In this particular segment of the video, he explains the geography of the area to help the audience visualize the scene in which history took place. He goes into great detail about the features of the land and uses strong imagery to depict a visualization that everybody can imagine in their heads. By using hand motions, a mental map of the area is pictured by the audience since he corresponds the ancient cities/areas with places in which he directs his hand. This hand motion is perhaps the most important part of the effect of imagery; the other example of him outlining the shape of a mountain range as he is talking about the valleys, mountains and plains of Israel really gives the audience a vivid impression on what he has pictured in his own mind. Gladwell uses a neutral tone in his voice to set a clear stage before the story begins and does not move his body around too much as to distract the audience from the strong image that he is projecting into their minds. Everything he is doing in this part of his speech is a key part of storytelling, and in this case it was to set the stage for the unheard story of David and Goliath so well that his argument connects with the audience just that much more.

2 thoughts on “Malcolm Gladwell— Setting the stage for the unheard story of David and Goliath”

  1. He seems like he connecting with the audience really well with his hand motions and gestures, like you mentioned. I don’t know if you noticed, but it seems like everyone is circled around him almost like kindergartner’s would for story time. So, I think he is trying to be more casual with his talk, and you can here it in the tone of his voice. I don’t know if this is a good thing when presenting, but it makes me feel more involved and interested in the story he’s telling.

    1. A small setting definitely does help. Usually larger TED talks have a more “lecture” – type setting but with a smaller venue there is little room left (literally) for the audience to disconnect with the story.

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