Image by: geralt
By Dexter Lunde
TED is a global nonprofit community that spreads ideas by giving 18-minute powerful talks since 1984. Speakers at TED Talk conventions range from psychologists and biologists to food experts, movie directors, politicians, and bloggers. Bono (the lead singer of U2 and rights activist) and Bill Clinton (former president) have both been speakers in the past and that is only a tiny portion of the famous men that they have had on their stages.
But we can’t all be TED talk rank, public speaking aficionados, can we? Most men hate speaking in front of a group of people. In fact, 73% of people suffer from speech anxiety. 3.2 million Americans have a fear of crowded or public places. So it’s not necessarily speaking in front of people but being around large groups of people that give some men anxiety.
Let’s take a look at some of the best advice taken from famous TED Talks, to see what we can learn from the techniques of the public speaking pros and in hopes of learning ways to make our presentations better and more powerful.
#1) What’s So Awesome About TED
Image by: TED
Ever since TED began uploading their presentations on their website and on YouTube a few years ago, their popularity has skyrocketed. With their conferences shared in more than 100 different languages, and with their stages being graced by the presence of famous politicians, celebrities, scientists, and activists, it is not hard to see why their name is everywhere.
Their speeches are well-known throughout all genres. Why? Because they are so affective. These 18-minute speeches are known as some of the most profound. In fact, Sir Ken Robinson (an educator) has given one of the most famous TED talks. How famous? His TED talk has been one of the most viewed at over 20 million views.
So what do all of these TED talks have in common?
#2) Bond with the Audience
Create a bond with your audience by telling stories. You can connect with them on an emotional level when you share something personal about yourself. It’s also a great way to break down barriers and show your audience that you are just like them, further relaying your connection with them.
Start off with the story first and have the data in your presentation support your story, not vice versa. When you are writing your speech, think of a story that will tug at their heartstrings or will make them laugh. These are the most effective.
#3) Don’t Start By Open PowerPoint
Don’t start by opening your design tool first. You can use any type of design software to help you convey information visually. While we used to consider bullet points as the best way to convey large amounts of information to your crowd, times have changed.
“Picture superiority” is the most effective way to convey information visually. In laymen’s terms, that means that pictures convey information and are more memorable than just looking at words and numbers.
Create a visual/verbal balance with minimal text on your slides. If you do have a PowerPoint, each slide should have about 40 words or less. The fewer words, the better. Instead, fill your slides with images and charts.
#4) The Rule of Three
In short term memory, we can only recall about 3 or 4 pieces or chunks of information. So if you have lists in your idea, stick to 3 or 4 reasons why. If you give them more, their memory will become overwhelmed, and they will remember less of it. 3 is a small enough number that they can write it down.
TED speakers are known to rehearse their speeches a lot. For example, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, a Harvard researcher is known for having practiced her speech over 200 times. You can see her TED profile here You don’t have to go that far but (at the least) practice your speech at least twice a day, every day until you know it like the back of your hand.
Practice gives you confidence. You’ll never be able to conquer your nerves and anxiety but becoming extremely familiar with your tools (whether you are making a PowerPoint presentation, a demonstration with your products, or using a virtual chat system like Google Hangouts or Skype), and knowing your speech frontwards and backwards will ease those anxious nerves.
#6) Watch Other Presentations
Go onto the TED website and check out their various presentations. Take notes. Check out their techniques and their quirks. Listen to the stories. How to they convey their information?
There is always something to learn when it comes to communication so you should never stop learning. Use various techniques. Mix and match various techniques for public speaking.
If you can, follow their lead by limiting your speech to 18 minutes. No one on the TED stage is allowed to speak more than 18 minutes. TED studies have shown that 18 minutes is the maximum amount of time that a person can sit and listen to a speech without falling asleep or zoning out.