Title: Is a war between China and the US inevitable?

Presenter: Graham Ellison



  • Your introduction was excellent. It answered the important question of why should I care about your topic (Because this it the biggest international professional story of our lifetime." You eventually alluded to who you are and why I should listen to you (you're a teacher at Harvard). And you forecasted your presentation(you will focus on impact of China's rise: on the US, on the international order, and prospects for war and peace).      
  • I liked your use of a pop quiz as a transition. I've started presentations with "pop quizzes," but I'd never used it as a transition. I thought it was a clever technique..
  • You told us that twelve of sixteen in the past 500 years between ruling powers and rising powers resulted in war. It made me wonder who were the other four
  • You used an example that 90% Chinese survived on less than $2/day in the 70s. But what does this mean? My point isn't that they weren't in poverty but that the statistic is meaningless because they don't have a dollar-based economy, and they have a different cost of living than the US. To me, it would be much more effective to tell us what that $2/day could buy.
  • I saw problems with Thucydides' trap that you didn't address, and that detracted from its power as a convincing example. You gave one example of a third party dragging the top two into World War I. But what were the other cases where this happened. Though I don't know the details behind most of these conflicts, I recognize at least 20% where one of the two parties wanted and initiated war. It also would help to have more explanation of the criteria for inclusion in your chart. For example, why don't you include the Ruling Spanish and the Rising British or the ruling Bolivians and Peruvians and rising Chileans? (Is it because other examples weren't on script)?
  • Maybe these are topics are beyond the time allotted for this topic, but I would've liked to hear you address how the demographic winter caused by the 1-child policy will affect Chinese growth and also the thought experiment recently reported at one US college where the college students would prefer to submit to China than to fight (provided that the Chinese would give them free, though censored, internet).
  • I think that one of your points was missing some content. You said that the change in balance would have consequences felt everywhere. You gave as an example that China is already the number one trading partner of all major Asian countries. I understand the new state, but you didn't explain any consequential effects from this change.
  • To me, the conclusion was the weakest part of the presentation. You forecasted that you would explain the prospects of war and peace, but your conclusion was that you didn't know. Your call to action was for the audience to think of something to do. It just felt like the level of urgency and leadership in the conclusion was very low compared to the level in the rest of the presentation.


  • Why were you speaking from notes? You clearly didn't need them until the ending — and even with the notes, the ending seemed to lose its focus and ramble. Speaking from notes can give the impression that the speaker isn't committed enought to the topic to present it earnestly.
  • I liked your your first two slides. The rotating pyramid effective was for me, and the marble bust was appropriate.. Your slide comparing circles on a teeter-totter representing the GNP of the US and China was misleading because of the difficulty most of us have in comparing areas of circles. Use a bar graph here for more clarity.
  • What do you expect from your chart of the sixteen examples of rising vs. established power? There's lots of text and examples on this chart. Do you expect us to stop listening to you and read the chart? Or do you expect us to ignore the slide and continue to listen to you? Those are the two results from a slide like this. At this point, you were the in the role of ruling power, and the slide was the rising power.
  • I enjoyed your creative phrases. Some examples were: Thucydides' trap; toxic cocktail; tectonic change change; and, Surge of imagination and creativity.
  • I thought that your audience partipation was an effetive tool: asking questions and then pronouncing Thucydides' name together.
  • Your favorite filler word is "so," and you began several sentences with that word. You rarely needed it, and you risk turning your presentation into a drinking game when you overuse it.
  • I felt that you spoke to the room adequately; you had good eye contact.
  • I felt that the gestures seemed natural and not distracting.
  • Overall, I thought that the presentation was informative with good examples. My main complaint is that when you forecast that you're going to assess the prospects for war and peace, don't duck the promise at the end. Give us your forecast.

Chuck Hinkle has been formally evaluating and coaching speakers worldwide for over thirty years.

“Chuck took my story I was giving at a TEDx conference and turned it into a powerful presentation. Then he coached me so that I could deliver it confidently and effectively. It was the most impactful presentation of all the speakers.” Sr. Business Analyst & TEDx Presenter

“Even more than being terrified of public speaking I am more terrified of sharing my personal past with others. That was until I encountered Chuck Hinkle. Chuck listened to my ideas for my first TEDx talk and gently coaxed me to share part of me that was not a part of my work persona. He helped me develop the skills I needed to convey a message that would reach the hearts and minds of folks literally around the globe. My New Years resolution was to overcome my fear of speaking in public by possibly talking to a group of school children or at a senior center as part of a group. By working with Chuck, I gained the confidence and skills to stand on the stage alone and reach out to over 17 different countries and Dare them to make a difference. And what is even more amazing is they took the challenge and told how they did. Chuck used a combination of presentation techniques on how to use PowerPoint and pictures, to what stories to tell and how to paint a visual picture. I grew personally and was able to land an amazing new role professionally thanks to Chuck.” Commercial Contract Manager & TEDx Presenter


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