By Noah Zandan
September 23, 2013
TED, a nonprofit organization known for its presentations of short, provocative talks on cutting-edge ideas, has compiled the 20 most popular TED Talks, which can be viewed on the organization’s website. Although TED began as a conference on Technology, Entertainment and Design, TED talks now cover a variety of topics and issues, and many of its speakers have become well known as a result of their talks.
This list got us asking, what separates the language of the most popular TED talks (such as How Schools Kill Creativity from Sir Ken Robinson, or Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are from Amy Cuddy) from the language of average communicators? What can we learn from these best-in-class speakers?
September 9, 2014
When Apple releases new software updates or new products, the company stages a special event to explain – and hype – the new features. In order to build excitement around the new releases, which have been shrouded in secrecy as they are developed, the company drops hints along the way before chief executives deliver keynote speeches on stage to a live audience, as well as to anyone watching online.
During such an event in 2007, then CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, unveiled the iPhone to the world. In this historic moment for the company, Steve Jobs described an innovative product in a way that had people lining up to get their hands on it. He set a benchmark for showmanship that few CEOs have been able to master.
This afternoon, Tim Cook gave a similar speech unveiling Apple Pay and the Apple Watch. Was he able to elicit the same excitement around the Apple Watch (in spite of some embarrassing technical glitches in the live streaming of the event) that Steve Jobs built around the iPhone?
August 7, 2014
We recently came across an intriguing article by The Atlantic’s senior editor Derek Thompson claiming that even though people will say that they regularly read hard news about politics and international news, they are actually turning to “easy-reads” such as “quizzes, lists, and emotional poppers.” In other words, we lie about what we read, or at least what we intend to read.
Mr. Thompson’s theory is that people prefer easy-reads because of “fluency,” by which he means feeling rather than thinking. He explains:
“Fluency isn’t how we think: It’s how we feel while we’re thinking. We prefer thoughts that come easily: Faces that are symmetrical, colors that are clear, and sentences with parallelisms.”
To test this theory on what makes us read the news, we used our natural-language processing and linguistic mapping technology to compare the most-read articles from the websites of BBC, CNN, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to a dataset of random articles from the same publications. We then used our communications data science platform to see if fluency is really the key to reader engagement.
Flickr – Martin Thomas, Applause
The attention span of the average American is short – and getting shorter.
Research suggests that the average adult attention span is now only 5 minutes, down from 12 minutes just a decade ago.
And on the web? It is 6 seconds, one second shorter than that of a goldfish. Blame the iPhone, Facebook, Twitter…point fingers wherever you want, the reality is the same. We just don’t focus like we used to.
For a public speaker, short attention spans present a unique problem. How do you get your audience to put down their phones and listen to you? How do you keep them engaged and ensure they’ll remember your message long after the speech is over? The nemesis of meaningful audience engagement is boredom, so, in order to capture and hold the attention of your listeners, you have to keep your presentation interesting – you have to add variety.
July 10. 2014
With President Obama giving a speech in our home of Austin, TX this week, we became curious: how has his communication changed since he was first sworn in to office?
After 5 years in office, is he more confident? Is he more optimistic? Is he more positive?
What We Did
To find out, we performed a trending analysis of the language from all of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union addresses.
July 7, 2014
In 2012, Facebook conducted a study to test how emotions affect people’s behavior. They filtered the news feeds for about 700,000 people for a one week period. Some people were shown fewer instances of positive posts, while others were shown fewer instances of negative posts. They found the emotions to be contagious: those that were shown positive content were more likely to share positive content and those that were shown negative content were more likely to share negative content.
Facebook recently published its findings as an academic paper in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Upon publication, a public outcry began as many people feel that Facebook crossed the line in conducting this study. Upset users claim they should have been made aware that they were a part of the research. Many people also claim that the study was unethical, as the increased negative content could have had a huge impact on emotionally vulnerable people (for example, people under the age of 18 or people who suffer from depression).
June 27, 2014
There is no shortage of commentary and research telling us that men and women communicate differently. We have enjoyed reading some of the data-driven studies that examine the amount of time men speak relative to women (some studies claim that women say 3 times more words daily, others say there is no difference between men and women), as well as some of the more qualitative research that articulates the psychological needs that drive these differences. Even with the abundance of existing research, however, we still had an unanswered question – can you quantify communicational differences between the genders?
The answer is yes. By leveraging our database of over 100,000 communication samples, we analyzed the language of men and compared it to the language of women. To help with our analysis, we first turned to academic research. In a study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, researchers found that men are more precise and less emotional in their communication and that they tend to reference numbers more often. They also found that female communication is more emotional, includes more references to uncertainty, uses more negations and more first person pronouns.
June 19, 2014
A few months ago, based on customer feedback about our name, our Board of Directors recommended that we consider changing our name from “Quantified Impressions” to “Quantified Communications.” The board suggested that with such an innovative business, the name Quantified Communications would make it easier for our clients to understand and explain what we do.
Not taking this decision lightly, we turned to both our language analytics platform and external analytics sources to evaluate the potential name change. We analyzed the definitions, ran word association tests, measured the usage of the words in our content database, evaluated search frequency and trends, and did primary research on word preferences and audience associations.
From this analysis, we learned that the term “communications” better represents what we do – applying data science to language to help companies optimize how effectively and consistently they communicate. “Communications” is more widely used, searched for, and associated with our target market and offering.
Combining our customer feedback, our board’s intuition and our data analysis, we were able to make a decision. I am excited to introduce you to Quantified Communications.
June 5, 2014
With confidence, you can reach truly amazing heights; without confidence, even the simplest accomplishments are beyond your grasp.
Last January, we analyzed inspirational locker room speeches from the head coaches of the NFL teams that were facing off in the Super Bowl. We found the language of Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks to be 32.7% more inspirational than the language from John Fox, head coach of the Denver Broncos, which may have helped inspire his team to a 43 – 8 victory. By popular demand from our readers, we undertook a similar analysis before the NBA Finals begin tonight.
For this study, we quantified the language from Tim Duncan, team captain of the San Antonio Spurs, and LeBron James, team captain of the Miami Heat. What follows is a measured comparison of their answers to questions asked during yesterday’s press conference.