By: Alexa Szafranski (11th) with reporting by Hadassah Reich (10th)
Even though sophomore Naomi Weiss has known about the school TED Talks for a few years, when it was her turn to present she was instantly filled with nerves. Speaking in front of the entire student body is no easy task, and Weiss was frightened as she walked onto the stage.
“I was scared to go up on stage and have so many people listening to me at once,” said Weiss.
The TED Talk assignment has been a key part of the sophomore curriculum since its debut just three years ago. The TED Talk idea was instituted by Mr. Curley and Mr. LaFountain, teachers no longer with the school. They believed it was necessary to improve public speaking skills among the student body. Therefore, they required that each sophomore must present an idea, discuss an issue, or share some personal beliefs in front of the entire school to mimic the TED Talk organization.
“It really brings confidence to teenagers who are growing up,” said junior Oren Abramov, who presented his TED Talk last year.
Though fun to watch from the crowd, the TED Talk puts major pressure on the presenter; having to memorize a speech is difficult, however, makes it even more rewarding once accomplished.
“My fears were that I would forget what I was saying or that I would speak too fast and just blank out,” said Daniella Finkleman (10th). “But when I got on the stage everything was just better because when I saw my friends, they were so confident, and that gave me confidence to do it.”
Despite its positive effects, many of the students in the sophomore class were not satisfied with their TED Talks and felt they did not overcome their fear of public speaking.
“I don’t think the TED Talks were a good project because a lot of people got anxiety attacks, and even though they worked really hard on it, weren’t able to perform well, and it was embarrassing for them,” said sophomore Shir-Elle Barroukh.
Although many believe that the TED talks revolve solely around improving public speaking skills, History Department Chair and TED Talk Director Mr. Matla insists that there is a deeper meaning to the true purpose of the TED Talk.
“The purpose of the TED Talks is that it gives kids a chance to not only engage in a public speaking project, but also show off a little bit of their own interests and do some research on skills that they’re going to need later in life,” Matla said. “It was nice to see a lot of these kids kind of come out of their shells from a basic classroom setting. It was nice to see them show off a little bit of their personalities.”