Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

All You Need to Know about TED Talks

ted talk, better presentation, engaging audience, engaging presentationOver the past several months, we’ve heard people saying: ‘did you hear so and so give a TED talk about such and such’ or ‘did you catch that TED talk last week about blah-did-e-blah’.

At first, all I kept picturing was a cuddly, foul-mouthed brown bear, smoking a cigarette and hanging out with Mark Wahlberg. I couldn’t help myself…those were the visions that came to mind.

Obviously, I knew this was not what people meant, but it was certainly funny thinking about a stuffed bear standing up on a stage giving a riveting talk about the hazards of smoking as he’s puffing away on a cigarette and drinking a beer….

So for those of you who don’t know what a TED talk is, it’s pretty straight forward and simple. TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design. TED began at a conference in 1984 when those three topics converged. The talks are usually short, powerful and last no longer than 18 minutes. And according to its website, TED is a non-profit, global community devoted to spreading ideas and free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers.

What intrigued me is that when you listen to one of these talks, you’re captivated. Honestly, you want to sit and listen to what the speaker has to say. Their presentations are so well done, you feel like they’re over in a blink of an eye. Don’t we all wish we could give presentations like that?

So it got me to thinking. What makes a good talk, presentation or speech?

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there…a speaker droning on and on and your mind wanders to the 10 other things you would like to be doing at the moment. Basically all you hear is ‘wha, wha, wha, wha’, like the teacher from the Peanuts. You don’t want to be ‘that speaker’. But how do you avoid that?

Know your audience and why you’re giving that talk. These two key factors will make speech writing and delivering much easier.

  • Hook ‘em in the beginning and involve the audience. People tend to be more interested if they feel they are being included in what you are saying.
  • Keep it real. Tell a story from personal experience or use real life examples that the audience can relate to. This helps you work the crowd.
  • Be sure to allow for questions throughout the presentation. Don’t wait until the end.
  • Show, don’t tell. Use interesting visuals, not slides that you are reading from that the audience can read at the same time. Nothing’s worse than being ‘read to’. The audience isn’t full of preschoolers, so don’t treat them that way.
  • Always remember less is more…be brief. Say what you have to say and then STOP!
  • Practice…you know the saying, practice makes perfect. So be sure to practice, practice, practice.
  • End powerfully. Make your ending as powerful as your beginning.

With that said, I hope I kept you engaged…

Check out this PDF for more do’s and don’ts of public speaking as well as a checklist to get you ready for your next presentation.

You can also check out the TED Talk website for more information.