If you’re looking to make your next conference, presentation or keynote speech stand out from the crowd, it might pay to take some tips from the experts. TED talk speakers are at the top of their game when it comes to public speaking; they know it’s not just what you say, but how you say it that forms a connection with the audience. Here are our favourite TED talk tips to help you present like a pro…
Lose the Jargon
It’s all too easy to lapse into jargon and acronyms when you spend a lot of time talking to those in your field. However, when addressing those that are not as au fait with the subject matter, the use of jargon can put up barriers; confusing terms often make an audience switch off. Try writing your speech as if it’s to someone you care about that isn’t part of your industry. This should help give your talk a warm and engaging tone that steers clear of jargon.
Make your Delivery Diverse
We all learn in different ways, so perfecting the audio aspect of your speech won’t cater to the whole audience. Instead, diversify your delivery with visual materials such as a slideshow or video, or incorporate an element of audience participation into your talk. This could be achieved by presenting the audience with a challenge or taking the old ‘show of hands’ poll one step further by asking for reasons why people voted a certain way. Just remember that if you choose to use tech, it should serve to enhance your talk and not do all the work for you. And avoid writing your entire speech out on slides - use for emphasis only.
Become a Storyteller
Maybe we’re all big kids at heart - who can resist a good story? TED talk speakers understand the power the storyteller wields and many incorporate anecdotes into their presentations to excellent effect. The audience is more likely to absorb and retain information if it’s presented in the form of a story rather than dry facts. Why not experiment with using a relevant anecdote to open your speech? It beats the tired ‘open with a joke’ tactic any day of the week!
Think in Threes
When it comes to perfecting your presentation, three is the magic number. Perhaps it’s the fact that our childhood fables - like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs - have taught us to respond favourably to the number three. Or perhaps it’s that three is the smallest number required to form a pattern. Regardless of the reason, the Rule of Three allows a speaker to express, emphasise and make a concept memorable. Think in trios to build arguments or to highlight key points. This rule will stop you overloading the audience with information while still succinctly making your point.
If the content of a presentation is too predictable or familiar, who can blame the audience for tuning out? Jolt listeners to life with a startling fact or statistic that can’t fail to grab their attention. Alternatively, present the counterintuitive conclusion and watch the audience wake up.
Keep it Simple
Make it your aim to condense complex ideas into chunks of easy-to-understand content. It’s a fine line to walk - you don’t want to laboriously explain every little detail, nor do you want the audience to have to decipher what you mean. Aim to leave listeners feeling smart yet intrigued to find out more about your topic. Keep it simple without being patronising.
Just be You
Last but certainly not least, the best speakers know that to connect with the audience, they need to be authentic. While it might be tempting to emulate an inspirational speaker, you run the risk of losing your unique voice. Be yourself, sound like yourself and speak in the language you use every day. Remember that your aim isn’t to deliver the ‘perfect’ presentation - the audience will be much more engaged by a genuine person who is passionate about their topic.
While gaining inspiration from the greats can help inform your practice no end, when it comes to presenting like a pro, just remember that practice makes perfect.