A NOTE FROM LINDA…
In the work I do, coaching leaders and executives, you’d be surprised by how many struggle with fear of presentations..
If you’re a fan of TED.com, you probably remember the first time you viewed one of the company’s free 18-minute online presentations. Ted Talks are truly inspiring. If you’re not yet familiar with them, you’ll find that their speakers provide jaw-dropping stories you’ll be talking about for weeks.
TED’s growing global audience is testimony to the success of their mission, “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Since June 2006, the talks have been offered for free viewing online.
- By January 2009 they had been viewed 50 million times
- In June 2011, the viewing figure stood at more than 500 million
- By mid-November, 2012, TED Talks had been watched one billion times worldwide
Originally focusing on technology, entertainment and design—hence, the initials—TED Talks features remarkable experts in diverse fields with revolutionary ideas. As some of the most viewed speakers in the world, they showcase their high-level presentation skills—a seamless blend of intelligence, entertainment and persuasion.
Certified Executive Coach
“The best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to know what you’re talking about.” – Author Unknown
At some point in your career, you’ll likely be called upon to make a presentation to potential customers, superiors and/or colleagues. Your ability to persuade others will contribute greatly to your overall success. Fortunately, there’s a great book that can help you break down the key elements to an effective presentation.
Jeremy Donovan, executive vice president of Gartner, Inc., has written How To Deliver a TED Talk, a complete guide to creating presentations that inspire others through stories. Based on the most popular TED Talks, this playbook shows you how to select a topic, craft your narrative and fine-tune your delivery.
Select a Topic
Regardless of topic, your goal is to awaken your audience to a new way of thinking or persuade them to take action. Ask yourself:
- Why is this topic important to me, the audience and the world?
- How will my audience benefit?
- How can I enlist others to join my crusade?
Identify a central idea, and work backwards to establish an audience-centric narrative that includes stories and facts. As you build your talk, play the role of skeptical listener by asking “So what?” and “What’s in it for me?”
Appeal to Your Audience
People have four driving needs, so make emotional connections that appeal to your audience’s:
- Social need for belonging
- Ability to learn and grow
- Desire to make a meaningful difference
Be sure to explore beyond the surface of your topic, but don’t try to pack a lifetime’s worth of learning into a single talk.
Be clear about your central idea. Focus on a unifying message; then, scour your brain for amazing experiences that add emotional depth.
Craft a “Catchphrase”
Remarkable speakers become memorable by using catchphrases: turning your presentation’s central idea into an unforgettable phrase. Repeat it several times throughout your speech to implant it in the audience’s mind.
An ideal catchphrase should be short (3–12 words), action-oriented and rhythmic.
• “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” (Simon Sinek)
• “Work with people who believe what you believe.” (Sinek)
• “Start with why.” (Sinek)
• “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” (Johnnie Cochran)
Build the Speech’s Body and Transitions
We more easily remember concepts when they’re delivered as three examples or elements. This progression helps you stay focused and primes the audience to remember your message.
This can be as simple as:
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them
- Tell them
- Tell them what you just told them
Open with Gusto
The first 10 or 20 seconds of a speech mark the peak of audience engagement, so capitalize on it with a compelling opening.
- Personal stories are always attention grabbers, but make sure they are real, emotional and relevant to your message. Make other people your story’s heroes.
- Shocking/startling statements can be very effective, especially if they challenge conventional wisdom. A good example is Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk on how obesity is killing our children.
- Ask powerful questions, particularly “why” and “how.” Questions tap into the audience’s natural curiosity to understand the world around them.
After you open your presentation, list the benefits your audience will gain. The more you use the pronoun “you,” the more engaged the audience will become.
Watching TED Talks won’t automatically make you a good speaker, but they will inspire you to improve your presentation skills.
Once you’ve learned a few tips, practice them by delivering a persuasive speech in a feedback-rich environment. Ask for help from trusted peers, a mentor or an executive coach.
This last suggestion is key. You can’t improve your chance to make a really big impact without practice and feedback.
Make your presentation matter to the people listening to you.