TEDTalk Review: Stacey Abrams “3 Things To Ask Yourself About Everything You Do”

Author: Jane Xia

Stacey Abrams, the speaker, strives to find a place for everyone who has been marginalized. She gave this speech to help others achieve their goals and to make a change. Abrams begins her speech with an anecdote of her experience of discrimination. She was invited to the governor of Georgia’s mansion as the valedictorian of her graduating class, but what rejected at the gates by a guard because her parents and she took the bus since they could not afford a car. The guard told them that they “do not belong here” without even bothering to check the name list or ask for an invitation card. This incident stuck to her and she was determined to “open the gates to everyone in Georgia”.

Stacey Abram speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, November 28-30, 2018, Palm Springs, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

This leads her to the next topic: what do you do now that you have a goal? There are three questions you should ask yourself before doing anything: What do I want? Why do I want it? And how do I get it? Each question leads to smaller questions. What specific change do I want? Are my ambitions aggressive enough? This portion of the speech is a bit confusing, especially when trying to analyze or understand the speech. Abrams has already defined the three questions to ask yourself before doing anything, but as she proceeds to explain each question, she asks more questions that she numbers as one, two, and three. This is confusing because as the audience, we do not know which three questions are the three she is talking about in the title. Although this part is confusing, Abrams clarifies her three main questions again afterward.

Abrams emphasizes the “why” question, because without having a clear reason that drives you, “the ‘do’ is meaningless”. Things will get hard once others stop believing in you and even try to tell you to stop and once you start failing and losing.
Finally, we need to know “how” we are going to achieve our goal. There will be obstacles, but there will be a gain that comes afterwards. Abrams uses her own achievements as an example of the outcome of hard work. There are always three obstacles that stand in our way: finance, fear, and fatigue. By recognizing these obstacles and being aware of others who have overcome them, it will motivate us more to overcome them.
Overall, Stacey Adam’s speech was well organized and interesting to listen to. She used examples from her own life to emphasize her points. She used the rule of threes to make it easy for listeners to follow around, although it did get confusing when she put two rules-of-three’s side by side. Abrams also uses an adequate amount of humor to lighten her speech and also just let her personality show through her speech.

Listen to the talk here.