What makes a great TED Talk?

22nd February 2018

For the final of our Aspire programme, the mentees took to the floor to try out their presentation techniques.

From vegetarianism to conformity – a vast range of topics were selected by the participants on our Aspire mentoring programme for their TED-style talks.

The challenge formed the finale to our mentoring programme with State Street, which has seen ten students from Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in Lewisham paired with professionals from the global financial services provider in Canary Wharf.

In recent months, the young people have received professional guidance from their mentors during a series of structured sessions, including advice on how to write and present an effective TED-talk. Mentees were tasked to choose a topic that linked in some way to their A-levels, preparing a five-minute presentation which they delivered in front of an audience of State Street professionals.

Conquering their nerves, our candidates put on an impressive performance, with many pacing the floor purposefully and using expressive hand gestures in true TED-talk style. 

Aspire graduation event
Devaun Williamson was named as the overall winner, earning plaudits for a well-structured presentation about particle physics that used humour to engage the audience.

Covering everything from anti-matter to tachyons, Devaun brought his subject to life with attention-grabbing illustrations. For example, to demonstrate the faster-than-light properties of the tachyon, he enlisted the support of fellow Joseph Sturgis, who collapsed on the floor in dramatic style before Devaun had pressed a (thankfully!) imaginary button to annihilate him.

To help him develop his presentational style, Devaun watched lots of TED talks online, drawing on the elements that appealed to him. He explains how support from his mentor throughout the programme helped him to perform with confidence.

At first, the thought of doing a presentation made me nervous,” he explains. “However, my mentor helped me to realise that I could draw on the experience I have gained through doing drama. He also helped me have the courage to do it my own way, and not compare myself to anyone else.

Winner of the Aspire programme

Fellow mentee Simi Ade-Ojo shares these sentiments. “My mentor was always very encouraging and gave me some really useful feedback that helped me to make my points clearly,” she says.

Reflecting on the programme more widely, Simi is grateful for the opportunities she has had to gain advice and insights from her mentor and other professionals at State Street.

There is a real sense of community with the company. I found the practice interviews we did a few weeks ago especially good as I got to meet a range of people in different roles. Everyone was very friendly and it was really useful to find out all different career paths people have followed,” she says. “Before, I thought everyone who worked in finance would be very serious, but they are not like that all. It’s an area that I would definitely like to work in.

Mentor Sean Walsh, an Asssistant Vice President in State Street Global Services said “Mentoring works best when both parties are engaged. A young person who is committed to growing and developing will get lots out of it.

We wish all our mentees on the programme every success as they make their next career step. Congratulations toall, and a big thank you to our corporate partner, State Street!

Aspire graduation event

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  • I have learned to adapt my approach with differing individuals based on their learning style or how how they prefer to grasp understanding of something new.

    Brokerage Mentor