TED Talk “Things I’ve Learned in My Life so Far”: Speech Summary, Text, & Analysis

March 31, 2023

5 min read

Stefan Sagmeister

From his own experiences, Stefan Sagmeister shares the design projects, reflective musings and captivating visuals that have shaped his journey of becoming successful in this TED talk titled, “Things I’ve Learned in my Life so Far”. He discusses how his innovative designs and thought-provoking ideas can inspire each of us to find and pursue success in our own lives.

TED Talk “Things I’ve Learned in My Life so Far” Speech Summary

We analyzed Sagmeister’s TED-Ed talk using the free, AI-powered communication coach, Yoodli. Start with http://www.yoodli.ai and view the speech here.

  • The speaker has been discussing the relationship between design and happiness for the past four years and has implemented several projects based on this knowledge.
  • Some of the projects involve inflatable monkeys in Scotland, ‘Changing media,’ 65,000 coat hangers in a street and ‘Money does not make me happy’ in a magazine and on a building in Austria.
  • The speaker also had a show in New York where people wrote things they had learned into the steam of the windows.
  • The speaker’s ‘Money does not make me happy’ project was presented on JumboTrons in Singapore and was also depicted on their studio roof in New York.
  • The billboard on their studio roof stated ‘Complaining is silly. Either act or forget,’ which faded after a week in the sun.

TED Talk “Things I’ve Learned in My Life so Far” Speech Text

Using AI, the Yoodli speech coach platform provides this TED-Ed talk transcript for “Things I’ve Learned in My Life so Far”:

"I was here about four years ago, talking about the relationship of design and happiness. At the very end of it, I showed a list under that title. I learned very few things in addition since (Laughter) — but made a whole number of them into projects since.

These are inflatable monkeys in every city in Scotland: “Everybody always thinks they are right.” They were combined in the media. “Drugs are fun in the beginning but become a drag later on.” We’re doing changing media. This is a projection that can see the viewer as the viewer walks by. You can’t help but actually ripping that spider web apart. All of these things are pieces of graphic design. We do them for our clients. They are commissioned. I would never have the money to actually pay for the installment or pay for all the billboards or the production of these, so there’s always a client attached to them.

These are 65,000 coat hangers in a street that’s lined with fashion stores. “Worrying solves nothing.” “Money does not make me happy” appeared first as double-page spreads in a magazine. The printer lost the file, didn’t tell us. When the magazine — actually, when I got the subscription — it was 12 following pages. It said, “Money does does make me happy.” And a friend of mine in Austria felt so sorry for me that he talked the largest casino owner in Linz into letting us wrap his building. So this is the big pedestrian zone in Linz. It just says “Money,” and if you look down the side street, it says, “does not make me happy.”

We had a show that just came down last week in New York. We steamed up the windows permanently, and every hour we had a different designer come in and write these things that they’ve learned into the steam in the window. Everybody participated — Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli. Singapore was quite in discussion. This is a little spot that we filmed there that’s to be displayed on the large JumboTrons in Singapore. And, of course, it’s one that’s dear to my heart, because all of these sentiments — some banal, some a bit more profound — all originally had come out of my diary.

And I do go often into the diary and check if I wanted to change something about the situation. If it’s — see it for a long enough time, I actually do something about it.

And the very last one is a billboard. This is our roof in New York, the roof of the studio. This is newsprint plus stencils that lie on the newsprint. We let that lie around in the sun. As you all know, newsprint yellows significantly in the sun. After a week, we took the stencils and the leaves off, shipped the newsprints to Lisbon to a very sunny spot, so on day one the billboard said, “Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.” Three days later it faded, and a week later, no more complaining anywhere. (Laughter) Thank you so much. (Applause)"

TED Talk “Things I’ve Learned in My Life so Far” Speech Analysis

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Stefan Sagmeister’s Word Choice

Sagmeister’s word choice metrics were all in the clear. He used about 18 filler words, which made up 3% of his speech. This is still below the recommended 4%, so it’s not a big concern.

He also used no instances of non-inclusiveness, and his weak word score was 4%, which is still considered within the normal range.

Stefan Sagmeister’s word choice stands out, since he scored below the recommended 4% in all areas.

Stefan Sagmeister’s Delivery

The delivery of Sagmeister’s TED talk was great. He used strategic, natural pauses to help his audience better understand his talk and maintained a pace of about 129 words per minute, which is perfect.

However, Yoodli flagged both his centering and eye contact as potential issues. We can take this with a grain of salt though, considering he showed examples on the screen (as opposed to the video focusing on the speaker).

Stefan Sagmeister’s delivery was also successful, particularly his pacing.

The Bottom Line

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