How One Man Mesmerized His Audience, without Words

Words are great, but they’re not always essential.

Don’t believe me? To kick off an episode of the hit radio show This American Life, Ira Glass and science writer Paul Hoffman talked about “a mathematician named Frank Nelson Cole, who demonstrated a groundbreaking idea at a conference in 1903.”

I was knocked out by this description of how Cole presented it—and captivated a roomful of people for a full half hour—without saying a single word.

Clearly, Cole understood the value of demonstrating rather than discussing his point, and knew that trying to “choose the right word” is a waste of time.

Hoffman and Glass know how to tell a story, too! Listen to the prologue of this episode, and see if you agree.

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