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Passion and the courage to "tell it like it is"

This is an important 18-minute talk by the great novelist Isabel Allende. Not all great writers are wonderful speakers, but Isabel Allende is both. This presentation is extremely visual yet not a single visual aid is used; Allende paints the images with her words. The content is well organized and she tells stories to make her point. To get the whole story you need to listen to the entire talk; the conclusion is very well done. Her speech is well written, and although the topic is very serious, she uses just the right amount of humor at the right times. But beyond the structure and delivery of the presentation from this charismatic storyteller, it is the content that needs to be heard. Some of you may be offended by her ideas, that's fine. When you're trying to change the world not everyone will appreciate it. I loved this talk and have watched it several times. Allende's message is not one of misandry as some critics claim. Indeed, I find her and her message of passion and hope to be a great source of inspiration for both men and women. And her TED talk proves again that you can effectively give a speech from a prepared script so long as the writing is good and the delivery is warm and engaging. (It isn't easy.)

Go here on the TED site to join the discussion about this presentation topic.



Thanks for highlighting these fantastic presentations!


Great find Garr, I am so glad that you put me on to TED and I have been recommending it and your site as well for quite a while. I pre ordered your book since October and Amazon told me its on its way here, Can't wait to read it. Keep Inspiring people

Paul P Magee

Amazing presentation.

It takes real genius to make people laugh and cry in the same talk.

And I noticed she got a well deserved standing ovation.

John Watkis

Hi Garr,

I'm so glad you shared this video. More than that, I was glad to read your comments about painting pictures with words and using a script for your speech.

Even though I'm not literally from "the old school", I maintain that painting word pictures is more powerful than using visual aids. It's more difficult, but it's also more powerful. I also believe that scripted speeches, when written and presented well, are the best speeches. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech is the perfect example.

Keep up the great work.

John Watkis


This is the first time I've ever heard Allende speak. For some indefinable reason, I've thought she was a long-dead writer from the 1800s! Her stories are so poignant.

Her method of presentation was terrific, excellent really, considering the format. I also vehemently agree with many of her conclusions about women and the terrible conditions many live under. My late mother brought up her two children in Africa against some tremendous odds so I have lived the life which she's describing.

But I rebel against what seems to be a strain, present in her speech, of group hatred. What a group of unenlightened people do in one godforsaken part of the world does not or should not make every member of that group indictable of that crime, everywhere.

Just as many men perform good works as women, many times, in many places all over the world.

Another niggling point: passion is all well and good, as long as it's directed in the right way. Suggesting someone like Hitler be passionate in his work is NOT a good idea.


Hey, Isabel is simply awesome. Her delivery was just masterful. She is definitively a great public speaker, but can you expect after reading such great works as hers. I am from Chile and unfortunately there are those in Chile who don't like her because of her book inclusions about the dictatorship we had years ago. I always wanted to listen to her and she really makes up for a worthwhile listening.
Her work is great, her speech is great. A great words master.
Thanks Garr for posting her speech here.

Chris Marshall

She mentions in that talk that 80% of refugees are women and girls (implying that the burden is greater on them than on men and boys) without delving into how that could be numerically possible (imagine that soliders enter a village and people flee for their lives; 80% of those that make it out alive are women and girls).

She then tells the story of one woman and her children who made it to a refugee camp, where she is repeatedly raped. She mentions that that woman's husband was tortured and killed right in front of her. The woman eventually escapes to America.

Her story alludes to how the 80% figure is possible, but she still doesn't seem to realize the implication of that figure being so skewed toward women and girls, and what that says about the fate of the men in civil wars.

Do you see the misandry now?

emu boots

I was the first time, to see what everyone says, what can be shared

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