TED Talks and Visual Rhetoric (Lauren Poet)

Objective: Introduce students to the TED talk format and have them begin discussing a prompt. Students will understand importance of visual rhetoric through discussion and a class activity.

Teacher Preparation: Print out “I Was Here” lyrics (https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beyonceknowles/iwashere.html)

Student Preparation:

  • Read MM Assignment sheet and Rubric found under the Content page of LS.
  • Meme Assignment

Lesson Presentation

Write-Pair-Share: (7 minutes)

  • Make a chart, like the one below, and list what genres use specifically only alphabetic symbols, genres using media other than alphabetic symbols (i.e. visual or oratory tools), and finally genres that use both.

Pre-Learning: (10 minutes)

  • Ask students if they have any questions about Ted-Talks
  • The Ted Commandments –
  • Have students watch “This is what Happens When You Respond to a Spam E-mail” while looking for the following basic principles:
    • Convey one strong idea
    • Tell a story that hasn’t been told before
    • Persuade us to do something or think differently
  • Note: Skip from 7:40-7:55.

With a Neighbor and the Class: (5 minutes)

  • Where did you see the TED commandments in action?
    • What was the one strong idea?
    • How was the story original?
    • What did the presenter encourage us to do or think differently?

Introduction to Visual Rhetoric: (10 minutes)

  • Now that we’ve seen one example of a TED Talk, I want to transition into talking about visual rhetoric.
  • What is visual rhetoric?
    • A form of communication that uses images to create meaning or construct an argument.  
  • What are some examples that we see of visual rhetoric?

Applied Learning: Visual Rhetoric (7 minutes)

  • Pass out lyrics to “I Was Here” by Beyonce
    • How many times does Beyonce use the word “I” in this song?
    • Looking at the lyrics, what do you think this song is about?
  • Show video
    • How does this change your perception of the song?
    • How is Beyonce using visual rhetoric to enhance the meaning in her song?

Reinforce Learning:

  • Begin brainstorming your topic for the TED Talk.  


  • Watch “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.”
  • Write a one-page, double-spaced rhetorical analysis of one of the TED talks.