The first TED talks were streamed back in 2006, and since then they’ve become a unique phenomenon that has made a tremendous cultural impact. TEDx talks are viewed 1.5 million times a day, and their popularity has turned them into examples of good public speaking and presentation skills. No matter what your presentation is about or what your audience is, you will most likely be silently compared to TED speakers many times during your speech.
However, TED talks not only set a high bar for public speaking but also give you an opportunity to learn from talented speakers. You can find TED talks that can teach you leadership, as well as countless talks from experts in different areas of business, marketing, science, art, etc. There, you can learn from professionals from your niche. Besides, some approaches used by TED speakers can help you improve your public speaking skills in general. Here are seven great tips on public speaking from some of the best TED speakers.
1. Be passionate about your subject
Tony Robbins’ TED talk became his most-watched YouTube video, which might surprise those who’ve watched his other videos. Usually, Tony Robbins doesn’t look so tired, and he rarely dresses so casually. What makes this video great is Tony’s passion. He’s perfectly focused and energetic. He does everything he can to deliver the most value, and you can see that he genuinely loves his material.
Robbins is also very straightforward in the way he sets expectations and overcomes barriers. He quickly focuses the audience’s attention on what they can learn from him, while also deconstructing the possible preconceptions that they might have.
2. Start with a staggering fact
Dan Gilbert starts his TED talk with an interesting fact that immediately grabs the audience’s attention. Firstly, such an approach makes the audience immediately focus on the speaker. Secondly, the presented fact is relevant to the topic so it also helps Dan introduce the subject. Such an introduction can help you not only engage the audience but also save time. TED talks are only 18 minutes long, so speakers should prioritize efficiency. The same approach can improve any other presentation, as well.
The best thing about staggering facts is that they activate both hemispheres of a listener’s brain: the left hemisphere reacts to interesting information, while the right hemisphere reacts to the uniqueness of this information or its weirdness.
3. Use nice visuals
Another thing that makes Dan Gilbert’s TED talk engaging is his use of graphics. He illustrates an interesting fact with graphics that not only support the informative part of the presentation but also create an emotional response from the audience. Eye-catching and meaningful images also enable you to engage both hemispheres. However, you should make sure that these images serve both purposes successfully.
Your visuals must contribute to the informative part of your speech to engage the left hemisphere while the emotional content targets the right hemisphere. This approach enables Gilbert to completely capture his audience’s interest and imagination in the first 30 seconds of his speech.
4. Convince your audience to take action
The purpose of most presentations and speeches is to persuade the audience to make a certain decision. Every decision is a sort of transformation from one state to another, and nothing can illustrate such a transformation, shift, or transition better than action. Amy Cuddy uses action in her TED talk from the very beginning. She convinces the audience to move physically, and it enables her to create momentum for a conceptual shift, which is the main purpose of her speech.
Such an approach is not only creative but also very effective. Besides, Amy Cuddy adds more meaning to the movement by promising that the audience will learn something valuable. She creates a sense of tension that makes movement more meaningful, while the movement also adds importance to the promise.
5. Get closer to the audience
Well you don’t need to approach your audience physically or give each member of the audience a handshake. What you must do, however, is overcome barriers between you and them. “If you want people to listen to you, you should make your audience feel comfortable,” notes Kaylie Preston from writing services review platform Online Writers Rating.
In his TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson had to overcome many barriers. He’s an academic, so the audience may immediately assume that they’re going to hear a lecture, and lectures are often assumed to be boring. Robinson lowers the barriers with a bit of self-deprecating humor, joking about himself and academics in general. Thanks to this simple approach, the audience feels more relaxed and comfortable, and ready to listen.
Another thing Robinson does to make his message resonate with the audience is connecting his personal experience to that of his listeners. A shared experience immediately makes the speaker more approachable and helps listeners evaluate the relevance of the message. Thanks to a strong connection with the audience, Robinson doesn’t even need visuals or dynamic stage presence to keep his audience engaged.
6. Use storytelling and body language
Brene Brown’s TED talk is a great example of how different approaches can be combined and used effectively at different points of the presentation. We’ve already mentioned above that you can quickly grab your readers’ attention with an interesting fact. Storytelling is a slower approach but can be just as effective. Brown immediately mentions that she’s a storyteller. Narratives are engaging and easy to comprehend, so telling a story is a great approach if you want your audience to start thinking along with you.
Brown’s story is also perfectly relevant, so it enables her to quickly introduce the main topic. Many people think that starting a presentation or speech with a joke is a good idea. The truth is that it can work in some situations, but the main thing is to make sure that the joke is relevant and that it will actually contribute value.
Brown also perfectly combines elements of storytelling with body language. While the introductory story is rather entertaining, what follows is more serious, and Brown indicates it by changing her stance and expression. Such visual clues help the audience stay focused, and act similar to punctuation marks in text. Without them, even a very interesting speech can become monotonous and difficult to comprehend.
7. Practice as much as you need
Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor’s TED talk has been watched more than 15 million times. If you’re a brain researcher, you probably need to deliver some complex information, and when you only have 18 minutes, you must make sure that everything you say or do will contribute to your message. This presentation is great, but Dr. Jill didn’t prepare it overnight. In fact, she rehearsed her presentation some 200 times, and the result was worth the effort.
If public speaking isn’t your strongest skill, there’s nothing wrong with practicing as much as you need. Delivering a speech or presentation requires you to be confident and to keep your audience engaged. To ensure that everything goes as planned, take your time and prepare well.
TEDx talks have became the gold standard of public speaking, and they enable you to learn from the best speakers, making your own presentations more engaging, interesting, and persuasive. Capture your audience’s attention and establish a strong connection with them. Use body language and storytelling, and illustrate your ideas with actions and visuals. And never forget that practice makes perfect.
About the author:
Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at essay review service Online Writers Rating and an author at Best Writers Online. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.