Monday, November 24, 2014

Ted Talks: "Am I dying" the honest answer

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I have watched several TED Talks in the past, as I find them very interesting. The beauty of a TED Talk is that it doesn't require props or a large effort to set up the stage for the speech, it just requires a good speaker with a great idea. It can be short and simple like the one I am reviewing, but equally as powerful. Matthew O'Reilly's "Am I dying" The honest answer is extremely touching. It is about a Critical Care EMT in Suffolk, New York that after a career of lying to people faced with imminent death and telling them that they were going to live, he instead decided to start telling the people the truth; that they are going to die. The reaction he got was surprising, and he noticed there was a pattern of how people reacted to hearing the news that they will die: 1) Wanted forgiveness for their faults in life. 2) Wanting to be remembered 3) The need to know that their life had meaning. He describes that in every situation where he has given somebody the bad news that they will in fact die he has received one of those three reactions, usually followed by peace and acceptance of the reality of death. This TED Talk shows that in death there are only a few things you care about, and in general they revolve around the need to feel like you made a positive impact on this world, and to know you did everything possible to minimize regrets.

There were no props or other visual aids used in Matthew's presentation. In this case, I don't think any are needed, you can tell by his eyes that he meant every word he said; death is not something to be scared of. Given the TED Talk was only about 6 minutes long, I would say it was an extremely impactful and effective use time, the presentation was extremely powerful both in message and delivery. There were no questions asked or humor used, Matthew says "thank you" and walks off of the stage. He delivered at a medium pace, and my only complaint is that he stumbled on his words a couple times, which is understandable because he is an EMT, not a public speaker. I think the overall flow of the presentation was exceptional. I felt as though the user walks you through, his background to establish trust in his opinion, and then leads you through body of the Talk.

I truly am comforted by watching this TED Talk. Death is something that is both inevitable and generally scary. It's nice to know that given imminent death, the overwhelming reaction is peace and solace. I think if I was faced with death I would not regret my past like some of these others have, but instead be sorrowful that I would have no more future. I do think I would like to hear that I am going to be remembered as a positive influence in peoples lives.

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