In a brilliantly tongue-in-cheek analysis, Sebastian Wernicke turns the tools of statistical analysis on TEDTalks, to come up with a metric for creating “the optimum TEDTalk” based on user ratings. How do you rate it? “Jaw-dropping”? “Unconvincing”? Or just plain “Funny”?

Why you should listen:

Before his career in statistics began, Wernicke worked stints as both a paramedic and successful short animated filmmaker. He’s also the author of the TEDPad app, an irreverent tool for creating an infinite number of “amazing and really bad” and mostly completely meaningless talks. He’s the author of the statistically authoritative and yet completely ridiculous “How to Give the Perfect TEDTalk.

Who is he?

Currently an Engagement Manager at Oliver Wyman, Sebastian Wernicke originally studied bioinformatics at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. During his time in academia, he devised an algorithm for analyzing biological networks that now aids researchers in dealing with their innate complexity.


  1. Wernicke looked at a statistical model to see if the was a way to make a really good, or a really bad Ted talk. What three things did he look at?
  2. He gives the example of four things that are good to talk about, and four things that are not so good. What are his examples?
  3. Ted talks that are long are more, or less, popular than short ones?
  4. At a conference in most disciplines it would never do to say “etcetera, etcetera.” What does Wernicke say about that in Ted talks?
  5. What does he say about appearance on stage?
  6. Although Wernicke uses humor in this talk, in the overall message what is he implying about evaluating talks by popularity?

Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TEDTalks), with Sebastian Wernicke


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