Thoughts on Bill Strickland’s Ted Talk “Rebuilding a Neighborhood With Beauty, Dignity, Hope


I chose to review a speech by Bill Strickland called “Rebuilding a neighborhood with beauty, dignity, hope”. It was given in Monterey, California in February of 2002. After watching a handful of Ted speeches, I chose Mr. Strickland’s speech because of the inspiration and awe-inspiring story that the speech told.

Mr. Strickland was dressed in business casual attire, not too comfortable, but business enough to ask for donations to his cause, which I am positive he received. His voice and volume were perfect, especially since he had Herbie Hancock playing piano behind him throughout the speech. When the music from the piano hit a climactic volume, Bill kept his voice in front of it, above it, without yelling. I chose this speech above all the other speeches because I felt this speech was the most effective of all I viewed, partly because of Bill Strickland’s effectiveness as a public speaker, partly because of the message he gave to his audience, which I must say took to him better than all other audiences I watched. Bill had flair, not practiced, honed flair, but a flair that was natural, and the audience ate it up. This speech was a sales pitch no doubt, and I must admit the most noble I have ever seen. The honest story Bill told during his speech sold itself. The audience had already bought Bill Strickland within the first minute of his speech. Mr. Strickland used slides to illustrate his various projects and again he had Herbie Hancock playing piano during his entire speech, which at first I thought might be a major distraction, but It was brilliant. It was perfect, the only speech I viewed with this ingenious touch. It worked wonderfully with Mr. Strickland’s speech and the audience seemed to like it as well.

Mr. Strickland was very organized in his timing, and effectiveness of reaching every person in his audience. Bill gave his audience information they already believed in, here’s a good example from the speech and a perfect overview of Mr. Strickland’s message: “If you want to involve yourself in the life of people who have been given up on, you have to look like the solution and not the problem” (04:22). People in this audience did not buy into Bill Strickland, or his speech, because of what Bill does, they bought into Bill Strickland and his message because of why he does it. This speech was so successful because the audience believed in the message Mr. Strickland was giving and had to become a part of it. That, in my opinion, is the foundation of the success of this speech. The audience bought every joke, which was delivered with immaculate timing I might add, applauded on cue without prompt, and the moment Mr. Strickland thanked them for letting him speak to them, they were on their feet applauding him. Throughout the speech, I could see audience members physically agreeing with Mr. Strickland’s words, nodding in approval. There seemed to be a few hundred people there, and Bill was brilliant in body language, his presentation and the way he had the crowd with his words. I must admit, after watching this speech, I did a little research on Bill Strickland and actually bought his book, I guess he was that effective he sold me as well. Overall, great speech which I had originally thought I would not use due to it’s length (35 minutes 24 seconds). I am glad I gave it a chance. It was by far the best speech I viewed. The story is inspiring, it is courageous.


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