There are a few reasons why Andy Puddicombe’s TEDSalon talk (delivered in London in Fall 2012) on mindfulness resonated so much with us. The first is how Puddicombe’s topic is conventional yet unexpected. He opens the short 10-minute talk with an obvious statement that most of us probably haven’t given any thought to: “We’re always doing something.” Sure, we are always doing something, but Puddicombe follows it up with a thought-provoking question: “When was the last time you did nothing for 10 minutes?”
It’s a poignant question because of how difficult it is to answer, which is what Puddicombe wants to highlight. We don’t sit around and do nothing; we generally don’t schedule time in our day to let our mind relax and simply be. Puddicombe incites the audience to consider the discomforting fact that “we’re no longer present in the world we live.” We like that he approached the topic in an unexpected, interesting way.
Moreover, we admire the structure of Puddicombe’s talk. He essentially divides the talk into two parts: one part presenting the problem (i.e. “we need to learn how to be mindful in the here & now,” “47% of our time is lost in thought”) and one part offering the solution (i.e. how to approach mediation). He does well to dedicate a nearly equal amount of time to each part, giving neither more attention than the other.
Lastly, we love how Puddicombe uses a physical metaphor– juggling– to represent meditation. The metaphor is easy to swallow, easy to understand and helps make the talk supremely accessible. And juggling is an ideal metaphor for Puddicombe’s topic of meditation. He points out that balance is an essential element of mediation, as it is in juggling, and he emphasizes common occurrences in mediation (i.e. at some point we begin to feel anxious about feeling anxious) and relates these to the act of juggling.
Simple metaphors are gold in presentations. They make otherwise difficult or recondite material accessible and interesting, and they help bring information down to a level that’s easy for an amateur audience to understand. See what you can do to use a simple metaphor in your next presentation, like Puddicombe does in his excellent TED talk.