What We Can Learn About Presenting From TED Talks

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Let’s try an experiment.

  1. Go to TED.com
  2. Choose one of the many talks on the homepage.
  3. Watch it.
  4. If you find yourself losing interest, select one of the six videos in the “Related Talks” section and go to step 3.
  5. Once you’re finished the video, select one of the six videos in the “Related Talks” section and go to step 3.

Keep doing this for a 30 minutes or an hour. And then answer the following questions:

 

How many videos did you watch from beginning to end?
If you’re anything like me then you wouldn’t have watched all of them to the end. When I tried this I spent several hours looking at TED videos and of the 30 or 40 that I watched, I probably only finished 4 or 5 of them.

 

What made you switch to the next one?
It’s easy to say that it was because the subject wasn’t interesting but that is rarely the case because we all know speakers who can make even the driest and dullest topics sizzle and sparkle.

The real answer is that you lost interest for a number of reasons, including:

  • It didn’t grab your attention at the start
  • The opening grabbed your attention but the rest of it didn’t live up to the promise of the opening
  • The speaker treated it as a lecture not as a conversation
  • It wasn’t accessible, the speaker used technical terms and language that you didn’t understand.
  • The speaker spoke in a dull monotonous tone

Look at some of the videos you didn’t finish again and try to identify what it was that made you want to change to a different video.

This is the first lesson that we can learn from TED: how not to present

Sometimes it can be difficult to recognise that we make these mistakes as well. To find out either ask a colleague or friend to give you feedback or else record your presentation and watch it back.

 

What made you want to finish some videos?

Look at the videos again:

  • How did the speaker grab your attention?
  • What methods did they use to keep you interested?
  • Did they speak in a language that you understood?
  • Did their passion and excitement for the topic intrigue and excite you?

This is our second lesson: learning from success.

 

Next time you’re writing a speech or presentation, look at how your favourite TED speakers present and try to use some of their methods to engage your audience.

 

If you enjoyed this post then why not try more of our presentation tips:

 

First published at Geek Speaking
Image: Steve Jurvetson (Flickr)

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Are You Ready To Be A Champion?

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Every year, all across the world, 15,000 Toastmasters clubs hold their annual International Speech and Evaluation contests, this is the first round of a contest that will result in one person being named the World Champion of Public Speaking.

And there’s a lot of people who really really want to become World Champion, they can spend months writing, practicing and refining their speeches, testing them out on multiple audiences and tweaking them until they have that perfect formula.

It’s hard work but it pays off and Jim Key is a great example of this. In 2001 Jim Key won his way through the first five levels of speech contest to get to the World Final and came 2nd. After being so close to winning, in 2002 he tried again, he got through to the World Final again and got 2nd place again. He may have been frustrated but he didn’t give up, as in 2003 he was back again and this time he won. And if you think that’s good,  Jock Elliot fought his way to the World Finals 8 times and finally won in 2011.

Every contest is adventure for anyone who takes part as you never know how far you might go but there is one thing guaranteed you will be a better speaker and communicator afterwards.

To get you in the mood for the contest, from Friday onwards we’ll be posting the World Championship winning speeches on our Facebook page.

Come along to our contest on March 8th to see some potential World Champions as they eloquently deliver their speeches and charm, inspire and entertain you.

 

image: pixlars (Flickr)

Celebrate Innovation at Our Next Meeting

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On the 23rd February 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was published for the very first time. The technology that printed the book, the printing press, has been ranked as one of the top innovations since the invention of the wheel.

Our next meeting is this Tuesday 23rd February and our theme will be Innovation and throughout the meeting we will celebrate the people and ideas that changed the world.

We’ve got a great line-up for the evening, strong speeches from Derville, Jean-Marie and Stefan, the always inventive Dermot will give everyone the chance to get up and speak during Table Topics and our special guest, Stephen, will guide us through the meeting.

The meeting begins at 7.30pm in the Lantern Centre so come along and help us celebrate the spirit of innovation.

For more details of our meeting click here.

 

Image: Thomas Hawk

 

Making Your Message Memorable

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What happens when you finish a presentation? What happens to your words and ideas? Are they carried in the hearts and minds of your audience out into the world or are they instantly forgotten?

As presenters we want to give our words and ideas a long life and a good way to do this is to use Chip and Dan Heath’s SUCCESs model to burn your ideas into your audience’s minds.

The SUCCESs model defines the six elements that your speech should have to make it memorable:

  1. Simple – Your message should have one and only one message, it should be clear to the audience what your message is.
  2. Unexpected – You need to surprise your audience because they’re more likely to remember something that  is unexpected. Think about it, when you talk about your day in work, do you tell people about all the normal everyday things that happened or do you tell people about the unplanned, the unexpected? We tend to remember better that which surprises us, like the twist in a movie or book, or the time your sister fell off her bike and broke her tooth. In order to make your message memorable, you need to surprise your audience. Subway’s Jared story is a perfect example of this with its memorable illogic – “He lost weight by eating fast food? That’s impossible!”
  3. Concrete – Make it real and tangible for your audience, add details because details help them to imagine better what you are trying to tell them, the more you help your audience imagine, the more likely they are to remember.
  4. Credible – In order to make us believe in the message, we need to make it credible, and we can do this in a number of ways, we can use experts (scientists, engineers, doctors), we can use people that our audience look up to or find inspiring (celebrities, respected public figures, speakers) or we can use someone that has shared our problem and has found a way to solve it, a real person, just like us.
  5. Emotion – A great way to get people to remember your message is to get them emotionally involved, make them care, make them angry, make them want to do something as a result of hearing your message. We can do this with stories but we also need to make the story’s hero someone that the audience can emotionally relate to – a girl suffering from malnutrition who could be their daughter, niece or friend, or a man who has money problems, we all know someone like that, we can relate to their problems and their situation.
  6. Story – Think about when you were a child and how effective the story about “the boy who cried wolf” was as a lesson to you, would your parents telling you not to lie have been as effective? We love stories, they involve us, they spark our imagination, they help us remember.

 

This book is all about how to get your message across clearly and effectively and it does exactly that. It takes the six principles of its SUCCESs model (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotion, Stories) and applies them effectively throughout the book. But where it comes out strongest is in its use of Principal 6 (Stories) as each point they make is illustrated by a collection of well-chosen stories.

The stories are great, the type of stories that stick in your mind. There’s one about how one teacher explained racism to a class of young children after the death of Martin Luther King by dividing them into blue eyes and brown eyes and treating each group differently and that lesson was so powerful for the class that they all remember it 30 or 40 years later and it’s a story I won’t forget anytime soon.

Their message is simple and clear and the way they get it across is both thoughtful and entertaining. Definitely a book worth reading for anyone who wants to become a better presenter and speaker.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – Chip Heath & Dan Heath