How to present like a TED lecturer

Ever since I watched my first TED lecture I harbored a secret (now not so secret!) desire to be able to give a talk like a TED lecturer – if only! How do you even attempt it? As a former member of Toastmasters I could see from the business people I watched speak, that being an engaging speaker was a career skill that both me and my clients could benefit from.

Over the summer I generally catch up with my reading and I often ask my colleagues what they recommend (a good way of sorting the wheat from the chaff).  So when ‘How to Deliver a TED talk, Secret’s of the World’s Most Inspiring Presentations’ by Jeremy Donavan was suggested I fed my amazon habit and acquired a copy.

Here are the top 10 tips I learnt from the book:

1. Instead of asking what is the best story I can tell (a question which sends me into a panic), ask yourself:

  • What is the greatest lesson I have learned?
  • What is the greatest joy I have experienced or the greatest misery?
  • What is my life’s mission and how can I enlist others to join my crusade?

Then work backwards to build a talk with stories and facts which focuses on the audience who will be asking ‘what is in it for me’ and ‘so what’.

2. Don’t try and pack a lifetime of learning into one talk’

3. Inspiring speakers and companies share why they do what they do and then how they do what they do

4. TED speakers use personal stories, shocking statements or compelling questions to open a speech

5. Deliver a post opening that shares the benefits of the speech that your audience will get and how long it will take to get them

6.Tell the audience what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you have told them but don’t give too much away

7. Use the word ‘You’ to engage with your audience

8. The best TED speeches use right brain stimulation (stories and activities) and left brain engagement strategies (facts and strategies)

9. Finish with a call to action – this is a big one for me as I think this helps with the ‘what is in it for me’ question the audience is undoubtedly asking

10. The story is the king – it needs rich description – drawn either from you personally or from observation

Ultimately as the author says studying lots of TED speakers will not make you a great speaker, just as studying cookbooks won’t make you a great cook. You have to get out there and practice. I recommend for this as it allows you to practice and get feedback both what went well and what to improve in a supportive environment. I liked this book and actually the fact it was short was a bonus for me as there is no way I would have studied the TED lectures to distill these lessons. It is well organized and distilled the key learning points at the end of each chapter, so if you are serious at improving your public speaking – get yourself a copy.