find your tribe


Collaboration and knowledge sharing is key to achieving diversity and inclusion.


1.  It's not about you

Sometimes, when a TED Talk doesn't quite  hit, it's because the highly intelligent, charismatic and insightful speaker has forgotten this one  key element. If you start to make a presentation a demonstration of how much you know about a specific topic,  you're going to find your audience turning off really quickly. Before you put your talk together, ask yourself what you want the audience to get  out of it. Focus on the main thought that any individual has when they are listening  to you: "What's in this for me?"

2. Body Language

Amy Cudddy in her TED Talk 'Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are' states that having good posture and a confident pose can actually change how you are feeling  emotionally. Start by imaging what an assertive, controlled and charismatic speaker might look like, then  emulate that look. You will start to feel that you are becoming that person, whilst projecting an image that shows you are all of those things.  Stand  with your feet in line with your shoulders, push  your shoulders back and keep your chin slightly raised.

3. Slow it down

Nerves  will often  force you to speak  at one  million miles an hour without you even realising  it. Add pauses into your sentences to give you a chance to keep track of your key message whilst giving your audience time to catch up and digest what you're saying.

4. Gesticulate

When you're not using your hands, keep them  in a 'ready position' just above your belly button, where they should  be connected but not locked together. This will encourage you to gesticulate as often  as possible. Confident use of the hands signals to your audience that you want to engage with them,  and by keeping your palms  open with your fingers outstretched when trying to emphasize a point,  they will read  you as being open, honest and insightful.

5. Case Studies Add Colour

Often,  I'm asked  by clients dealing with dry and complex subjects how they are expected to 'find the story' in what they are trying to deliver. Case studies add  characters, emotions, results and interest, so they should  be used  wherever  possible to highlight  your key message.

6. KISS (Keep it short and simple)

TED Talks are very rarely longer than 20 minutes long for a reason. If you're being asked  to speak  for an amount of time longer than that, you need to really clarify the purpose of you delivering that information. Chances are, a lot of it with be detail  that can be sent  in an email or a handout. Remember that any audience are likely to have a short attention span,  so once  you feel you've gotten your key message across,  don't be afraid to wrap it up. I'd rather  hear one  person speak  clearly and concisely for 10 minutes than hear someone ramble on and deviate for an hour. If you keep it short and simple,  the audience is guaranteed to walk away with a better understanding of what your message was about.

7. Practice

This one  seems so obvious,  but so very underutilized. Just a quick few run throughs of your talk are likely to really decrease your levels of anxiety before you are required to speak.  Not only that, if you record your practice and play it back to yourself, you'll be able  to work out where you want to make changes. TED Talkers practice with professional coaches a serious amount before they talk, which is one  of the main reasons they seem so confident and relaxed when performing.

8. Prepare

Again, such a hugely important tip, and yet, so many make the mistake  of attempting to 'wing it'. If you've thought out your material,  cut, edited and practice, you're giving yourself a huge safety net for when you're out there. Think of it like a theatre show. You don't just go and do the first performance without rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal. Know your lines, know your cues, understand the blocking  and eliminate any possible margin  for error. If you have all of that down then  when the lights go up it'll feel fresh and easy, as opposed to a terrifying opening night.

9. Perform

Finally, just do it. At this stage, there's nothing else you can do except take a deep breath, step  up to the plate  and deliver. Smile. You might actually enjoy yourself, and once  it's over, congratulate yourself on a job well done. It's a constant cycle of prepare, practice and perform that gets  TED Talkers so familiar and comfortable with being stood in front of a large crowd.

10. Breathe.

Finally, just a deep breath. Really breathe from your belly and try to slow your heart  rate down. It’s essential for projection, pitch, resonance and above all, staying calm.

Good Luck!


Susie Ashfield

Susie Ashfield comes from a strong creative background. As a communications specialist, she makes the most of her unique combination of acting skills, and her director-level business experience. She specialises in coaching to control and optimise body language and non-verbal communication techniques, as well as enabling clients to structure content for effect, and develop the kind of vocal strength needed to succeed. Previously, she worked in the City as an insurance broker, managing a client body of high net worth individuals including celebrities in media, television and film. As a speaker and trainer she runs high energy workshops centered around powerful performance, from dealmaking conversations to TEDx talks.


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