By Senior Consultant, Jacquie Ray
Here is some bad news for anyone who dreads public speaking.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to represent your organisation and engage with audiences through a speaking engagement is not to be missed. That is, unless your presentation is dull and your public speaking skills are not top notch.
It’s even worse for those who think they can simply ‘wing it’ on the day. A presenter who is not prepared, is nervous, or who gives a boring address can do your organisation more damage than good.
So take some advice from an organisation that collates some of the best, most engaging presentations in the world – TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design).
TED is a non-profit foundation that aims to foster the spread of great ideas globally. It provides a platform for thinkers, visionaries and teachers, so people around the world can gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by environments and communities across the globe, and feed a desire to help create a better future.
One of many ways the organisation seeks to achieve this mission is through its TED Talks. TED Talks are videos and podcasts that present a great idea in 18 minutes or less. They are filmed at flagship TED conferences and other TED events.
The first TED Talks were released online in 2006. By late 2012 they had crossed the mark of one billion collective views.
So what makes them so popular? Great speakers, who provide valuable examples of how to present an engaging address.
The three key things to remember when preparing and delivering a presentation are: to make an emotional connection with your audience, give them a novel experience, and make your talk memorable.
When all three come together, you will have the power to not only engage, but also motivate your audience, cultivate change and launch movements.
Here are some tips taken from the best TED Talks that will help you to achieve these three secret weapons.
Establishing an emotional connection
- Be relatable and find a good balance between professionalism and humility.
- Make the audience feel they are a part of the experience and that they are in a safe environment in which they can participate without being humiliated.
- Tell an interesting story relevant to your discussion topic. Stories are a great way to captivate your audience and help them retain information, which is why it’s often easier for us to remember the details of a film than an academic lecture.
Providing a novel experience
Do something that shocks and emotionally charges your audience, that reinforces the messages you are conveying, such as playing music, using props or dressing-up. You can do pretty much anything provided it’s relevant to your presentation.
Making it memorable
Emotionally charged events trigger a release of the brain hormone dopamine, which cements the experience in your memory. It’s the reason you remember intensely happy or intensely scary moments so well. So don’t be scared to think outside of the box.
Create sub-categories for your topics, dividing key points into lots of threes. The ‘rule of three’ is used frequently and for good reason. It is the traditional story structure of introduction, body and conclusion.
By structuring your talks in threes, you will not only accommodate your audience’s brain capacity, but you will also have a simple formula to follow, making your talk easier to prepare and deliver.
Keeping it real – tips from a TEDxpert
The best presentations appear spontaneous, even if they are highly scripted. Here are some tips for staying cool onstage from TED organiser Kelly Stoetzel.
1. Tell the story your way. You may be tempted to copy the structure of popular TED Talks from the past. However, your talk could still end up feeling contrived. Instead, map out the structure that seems most natural.
2. Work the crowd. Before your speech, chat with conference attendees during coffee breaks, lunch, or cocktail parties. The small talk will give you a better sense of your audience. Even better, you’ll see a few friendly faces in the crowd when you take the stage.
3. It’s not about you. When you write and deliver your speech, don’t think, ‘this is a message I must communicate’. Try to tell yourself, ‘people will love knowing about this’. It’s almost like you’re providing a service on the stage and makes it feel more like a conversation.