In this New York Times bestseller, Chris Anderson, founder of TED, one of the biggest trends and technology events in the world, explains how to become a better presenter and more effectively sell your idea. It is a must-read if you want to learn how to speak in public and win the audience. The author shares five techniques for making a successful presentation: connection, narration, explanation, persuasion, and revelation. He also explains issues related to clothing, visual effects and how to deal with nervousness and anxiety.
If you want to learn how to give presentations, give lectures or successful speeches, read this!
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The first step in becoming a better presenter is relatively obvious: be yourself. If you are a scientist, be a scientist. If you are a doctor, be a doctor. You can not stop being who you are if you want to communicate authentically. Sincere performances work just as well as lectures by great audience entertainers. For most, a presentation that looks more like a frank conversation is a lot better. If you know how to talk to a group of friends, then you know enough to speak in public.
Oratory skills allow you to give compelling public speeches. It is a skill that can be learned and developed, and, according to Anderson, is one of the most valuable skills for the near future. However, for many, the mere idea of public speaking causes chills. Many prefer to do something else than speaking in front of a crowd, but the opportunities created by talking in public make it worthwhile. Eleanor Roosevelt and Warren Buffett are examples of people who have overcome their fears of public speaking to share their ideas with the world. Many executives and leaders have used the opportunity to speak in public to grow their business and inspire new generations with innovation and progress. These people were themselves and used their voices and words to talk about the things they love. Eventually, the messages reached the mass.
The most important thing about a talk is to have a clear message and to get your listeners to understand it. That message is your idea. If you have an idea, you have something useful to talk about. An idea can be anything that can change the way people view the world. Remember that you are a unique person and that your life experiences are unique. So only you can share your idea with others.
Having an idea is enough, to begin. Your knowledge can expand as you prepare. Strive to use language your audience understands. Start by talking about things that you have in common and evolve from there.
You should keep in mind some key issues. Never use your lectures as a sales pitch. Build a reputation as a generous person and not as one who seeks only self-promotion. You are there to give something to your audience and not to receive. Having the attention of an audience for any duration is a gift, and in the case of TED, your idea has just 18 minutes. Get ready for every word you use to have meaning for your audience. Remember that your business details are more important to you than to other people. Focus only on the information that people want to hear. It is also important to be careful not to imitate other famous speakers, this almost never works. Be yourself and avoid tricks in your speech. Your passion and knowledge will inspire the public. Avoid clichés, overly charismatic speeches and remember: be yourself!
There is a useful expression used to analyze plays, films, and novels that also apply to lectures or speeches. It is the timeline, the theme that unites each element of a narrative. Each speech should have one.
The timeline is an essential part of a good talk. It is the connection of all your speech and will unite each spoken part. To get started, try verbalizing your timeline in 15 words or less. This summary will guide you in your talk and ensure cohesion between each aspect. To keep your talk interesting, work to make your timeline interesting.
When creating your timeline, make sure you know your audience. With just 18 minutes to speak, you’ll want to make sure that what you’re talking about is connected to your listeners. At this point, you need to show your audience why your timeline is important, illustrate each point with real examples, stories, and facts. Everything you want to show needs to be related to your timeline. In the end, speaking little, but meaningfully leaves much more impact.
Once you have developed your timeline, you’re ready to create the structure of your talk. There are many options for structures. A simple method is to follow with an introduction, context, main concepts, main implications, and conclusion. Another style you can follow is to answer a series of questions like “what? And now? So what? “Avoid thinking about your talk as if it were a problem, but think about it as a solution. It is much easier to catch the attention of the audience by focusing on the talk in an attempt to solve an intriguing problem rather than asking them to solve the problem.
Practice your talk with listeners whose profiles resemble your audience. Always speak as if there is only one person listening.
Start By Connecting
Your first job as a speaker is to build a bond of trust with people, so they are willing to give you full access to their minds for a few minutes.
From the beginning, you need to connect with your audience. The best way to start is by making eye contact followed by a sincere smile. Be warm, be realistic, be yourself. While every member of the public has a distraction tool in their hands – the cell phone – their ability to connect with the audience will help you keep their attention. Before you begin your talk, focus on how excited you are to share your passion.
The vulnerability is also a great connection tool. Admitting your mistakes and insecurities can engage your audience on a personal level. Anderson warns that vulnerability should not exceed acceptable limits. Be honest and know when to stop.
Laughter can unite a room full of people. The audience that laughs with you will quickly like you. And if they like you, they’re much more likely to take everything you have to say seriously. However, if humor is not your strong point, it may be best to just stick to what you know how to do.
Your ego may interfere with your ability to connect with your listeners. Leave your ego aside. Use self-deprecation carefully, to attract your audience. If you are not sure your ego is interfering with your speech, try introducing yourself to someone you trust and ask for honest feedback.
Storytelling is also a great tool to connect with your audience. Make sure you are telling an authentic story – avoid copying the style or story of other people. Finally, avoid talking about politics at any cost. Politics generates divisions, and you want your audience to be united and attentive.
Involve With a Narrative
Not surprisingly, the best speakers tell stories. Unlike challenging explanations and complex arguments, everyone identifies with stories. They have a simple linear structure, making it easy for anyone to accompany it. You let the speaker take you on a journey, step by step.
Storytelling is an ancient art with contemporary values. To tell a good story, create a character who empathizes with your audience. Build a tension using challenges or conflicts. Be careful not to get lost in detail, but give enough details to make the story interesting. Finish your story with a real conclusion. Be careful not to tell personal stories that represent nothing to your audience. The story needs to connect to your timeline and needs to be true. A parable is another version of history with valuable lessons. In that case, it does not have to be a real story. Its great value lies in explaining or clarifying the concept of the parable to its audience.
Clarify With a Good Explanation
If the heart of your talk is to explain a powerful new idea, it is helpful to ask yourself: What do you believe your audience already knows? What will be your theme? What concepts do you need to develop your explanation? And what metaphors and examples will you use to reveal these thoughts?
Explaining a complicated question easily for your audience to understand is an important skill. There are a few key elements to achieving this. Make your audience curious and introduce one concept at a time, starting from the most basic. Use metaphors as a tool to facilitate understanding. Examples are also an excellent way to explain difficult concepts.
The process is always the same: start with what the audience already knows and build the rest, piece by piece. Remember the feeling of not understanding something. That may be how your audience feels. Get as much feedback as you can from friends and other people nearby. Ask them specific questions: does this make sense? Was it confusing? Each sentence must be linked to the previous one. Thus, you will lead the listener on a journey of knowledge. Make sure you are not using complicated words that your audience does not understand. Once you have mastered the process, improve the enthusiasm of your talk. Your audience will be thrilled with you.
Convince Through Persuasion
Persuasion means convincing your audience that the way they see the world is not ideal. And that means explaining the parts that are not working and developing something better. When that works, it’s exciting for both the speaker and the audience.
Persuasion is the ability to show someone a new point of view, a new idea or a new belief. It is a powerful tool, and a successful speaker needs to master it. Often persuasion involves logical steps to arrive at the desired conclusion. Another approach is to show that following the opposite path is not logical. TED Talks also work as ‘detective stories.’ They begin with a great mystery, and then each solution is analyzed step by step until the answer is clear.
You can include many strategies in your persuasive speech. Humor is an excellent tool to engage the public. You can also add an anecdote or a personal story showing why the story is so important to you. Giving lively examples can support your conclusions, and the validation of others indicates that experts also support your point of view.
Reasoning is the best way to build wisdom in the long run. A robust argument, even if not immediately accepted by all, will gradually be accepted by other people until it is impossible to prevent them from disagreeing with you. When you use persuasion effectively, you help your audience accept a new, better worldview, and it creates a lasting impact.
Conclude With a Revelation
Revelation is an action that presents the public with a new idea. A presentation can be based on the disclosure of a succession of images and moments. These images should amaze the public. As always, you should use your timeline with all your pictures; it is the timeline which unites the figures. Be careful not to use images or complicated languages for public understanding.
Give your audience a place on your journey, to understand what was inspiring to you in your images. Part of a winning presentation is to explain how the process was to get the images.
Your talk may also be presented as a demonstration. Some of the most memorable TED Talks involve magnificent demonstrations. That’s where you can enjoy the show a bit. Build a climax in which your demonstration is revealed with glory at the end. Most demonstrations can follow a structure that begins with a small sample and then give the information the audience will need to understand it. Finally, the presenter concludes by explaining how that demonstration can impact the life of the audience.
Sharing a dream is a great example of revelation. Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech continues to inspire many listeners to this day. Using your passion and language to develop a vision of your dream can lead the public to take action and sympathize with your cause. These speakers share an image of the world as it could be, and this is an exciting opportunity to reveal a better future.
When sharing your dream, be sure to paint a daring figure of the alternate future you want, doing it in a way that will lead other people to desire that future. Be clear as to why your dream is valuable. Share thoughts that focus on human values and not just innovative technologies. If you are invited on a journey with an inspired dreamer, this invitation cannot be refused.
Use Visual Effects With Caution
Holding your audience’s attention is crucial and cannot be overlooked. Follow a careful preparation process to ensure that you enjoy every opportunity to draw attention to your speech.
Visual effects are not necessary and should be used with caution. Many great lectures were given without any visual effect. During these lectures, the connection between the speaker and the audience is enough to get the message across, and slides can sometimes disrupt that relationship. Remember: it is better not to have slides than to have bad slides.
However, good visual elements are often able to reveal and explain your idea. Good visuals are great tools for your talk when done right. Sometimes the visual elements show things that can be difficult to explain. A great speaker will prepare the audience and then allow the slide to make a significant breakthrough. If there are many concepts, you can link them using a slide for each idea. That can be much more effective than just a complex slide that needs long explanations. Test your slides and examples to make sure they are connected and that they do not disturb the audience’s attention.
Choose the slides carefully. A slide that repeats what you are saying or predicts what you are going to say next generates a messy lecture. The purpose of any visual effect is to show what you can not share with words. Also, remember that you do not need to add dialogues to keep track of each visual effect. Many slides do not need narratives or explanations.
When using presentation software, avoid ready-made templates. Use black photo backgrounds and fill the entire screen. Maximize the resolution and test each slide from a distance. Use only one font and use a minimum size of 24 points. You can emphasize some information by varying the font size. Maintain simplicity and use contrast to enhance the slide. Avoid points, dashes, underscores, and italics. Allow time between each click for the audience to absorb what you are showing. Keep photo credits as simple as possible, and if all photos have only one source, you can put them at the end of the slides.
Keep videos short – ideally less than 30 seconds. The clips are useful for explaining things that cannot be explained with pictures.
Avoid using transition effects between slides, unless they are instant cut. Make sure that you load a backup of your presentation on a thumb drive and a separate backup of your video. Submit your presentation with everything labeled. Use only pictures, videos, and music with your copyright licenses checked.
Practice your presentation. Show people outside your field of expertise to make sure your presentation is accessible to your target audience. Take a technical test to ensure that every aspect of your talk is working at the right time and with no flaw. Also, check if you can give your speech within the time limit.
It may be appropriate to hire specialists to assist you in preparing the presentation. Find a reputable graphic designer and work with him. Listen to advice, but trust your instincts to make final decisions. You can find the perfect help at a reasonable cost. When editing your talk, name each version, starting with the version number and its initials. Name the latest version as ‘FINAL’ to avoid any confusion.
With experience, you will find out which method of script preparation is most appropriate. Remember, it is important for the speaker to be comfortable and confident, to give the talk in the best possible way, allowing you to focus on your passions. You can write the whole speech, word for word, or you may prefer to develop a structure that lets you speak what you want on time. Regardless of your choice, make sure your method optimizes your available time.
If you choose to memorize your script, practice enough to be able to speak in an authentic and not decorated way. You can upload notes to remember parts, but keep as much eye contact as possible with the audience. If you practice a lot, you will be able to deliver your speech efficiently. You can try recording your conversation and listening to it later. See yourself while you give the lecture every time you practice.
Some people can give lectures without a script. It is not a lecture without preparation. Intense training should be done. The structure and timeline are planned, and the lecture is practiced countless times. To not get lost in the way, you can use indexes and guide cards by leaving them next to the water bottle.
The most successful TED Talks were the result of endless trials. Your goal should be to practice in many places, often, and take feedback from a wide variety of people. If you rehearse long enough, you can simply learn the best way to speak. One of the best things about intensive practice is that the lecture starts to develop naturally.
After rehearsing, make sure you get the attention of your audience, maintain eye contact, create a new idea, feel satisfied, give enough examples, use a pleasant voice, have a good mood, show useful visual effects, avoid distractions or irritating attitudes, ended in time and kept the talk interesting. If you record these essays, you can have valuable feedbacks while watching. And always finish within the time allowed.
Starting and ending your presentation memorably can be challenging. Anderson recommends that you skip all the praise and thanks. Instead, lock your audience in the second you step onto the stage with an astounding statement, an intriguing question, a short story, an incredible picture. There are four ways to get the audience’s attention right away: use a dramatic statement, arouse public curiosity, show a compelling picture, or give them a taste of your talk without giving it all away. These things will make your audience wait for your next words. In each case, make sure you offer a clear timeline that can be followed through your talk.
When you finish your presentation, avoid closing without impact, doing things like complaining that time was short or even asking for donations for a campaign. Instead, you can call your audience to take action, make a personal commitment to next steps, inhale with your vision, or try to connect your closure with the beginning of your talk.
What to Wear And Dealing With Anxiety
TED recommends that you wear casual clothes, a little more formal than your audience. Intense colors look great on camera but avoid anything shiny, as they can generate reflections. Set your waist with a belt, to put the microphone battery in it. Rehearse using your clothing, so you know you are comfortable and confident in it.
In addition to clothing, anxiety is a challenge for many speakers. Keep your focus on the purpose of your speech as you prepare to take the stage. Practice as much as you can to create courage. Take a deep breath, stay hydrated, eat some protein and remember that it’s okay to feel vulnerable – your audience will understand. When you’re on the stage, look for familiar faces. Have a plan in case you forget your speech and focus on the importance of sharing your knowledge with the audience.
Most TED Talks avoid using the pulpit. If you need, you can use a small and discreet. Keep notes as little as possible. A backup of your speech can be placed in a chair with a glass of water. Your slides may be your clues to progress in your talk. If you use note cards, hold them with a paper clip, so they do not fall. Some speakers use monitors to assist in their talk, but they should not replace excellent preparation and eye contact with the audience. It’s important to define your way of speaking, getting ready in advance, and practicing as much as you can, using the same tools you will use on stage.
A good speech gives voice to the human perspective. You want to hold and inspire your audience, speak with meaning, emphasize important words and phrases. There is a TED Talk about talking to people so they can listen. Your tone of voice is an important tool to use. Maintain a confident pose and allow your hands and arms to emphasize your words when appropriate. Find out what works for you and practice it countless times.
Your speech can also use features other than words, slides, or videos. You can use dramatic props, panoramic displays, live podcasts, illustrated interviews, music soundtracks, new discussion formats, and more. No matter what you use, practice it first!
The Evolution of TED
Chris Anderson says the following: “I want to convince you of one thing: Whatever the importance of the ability to speak in public today, it will be even more valuable in the future.”
Public speaking is becoming more and more important. It is a skill that allows you to present your ideas and passions to others. The origins of TED covered topics such as convergence between technology, entertainment, and design. The format was developed to include short lectures, a wide variety of subjects and create a general excitement about the opportunity to learn from a group, reflecting the reality that all knowledge is connected to a vast web. TED offered something to the world, and it grew. Now TED provides information sharing in almost every area of human experience, learning, and innovation. It gives each member of the public an informational advantage that leads to a greater understanding of the modern world.
The next great age is the age of knowledge. You will have opportunities to develop your thoughts better as machines increase your participation in the world. You will have access to great innovations, creativity and a greater connection with other people. Having more knowledge of how the world works, what human beings are capable of, and how much we can learn from each other brings benefit to all. Listening and talking are part of this growth and learning. What you need to know is how your work connects to everything else. If you can understand this, it will expand your worldview.
TED has evolved from a conference to a community that shares, identifies and spreads ideas. Online streaming led to an exponential growth in TED and made it possible for the global audience to reach. The lectures are evolving more and more as the speakers listen and learn from each other. The motivation to become a viral video inspired a higher level of preparation and innovation in the presentations. TEDx events are now occurring in several cities around the world. TED-Ed clubs can be accessed by teachers to give the student audience the skills to prepare for their own TED Talks. You can also use OpenTED to upload your own TED-style talk in a special session of the site.
Your goal of sharing your ideas with the public will lead you to greater happiness and the satisfaction of knowing that you have something important to share with the world. As you share, you are contributing to an environment in which information and collaboration generate great innovations, great ideas, and more personal connections. As human beings, we need to talk to each other and share our experiences.
Public speaking is an essential skill that can be mastered, leading to numerous opportunities to share your passions and ideas with others. Carefully develop your idea so that your talk follows a timeline, keeping everything you share connected. Use tools to connect, engage, and persuade your audience. Plan the details of each part of your presentation so that it happens naturally and lightly, and expose your timeline using your appearance, voice, images, and demonstrations appropriately.
Practice with diverse people and incorporate the feedback you receive from them into a memorable presentation.