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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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