TED Talks really changed the way we understand and appreciate presentations. Giving a platform to experts who may not always be the best presenters gave way to a new standard for how presentation should be done, especially when audiences have so many other options for information and entertainment. Here are so useful tips from TED talk experts.
Know your audience
No matter the setting or format of your presentation, you should always have a clear picture of who will be in your audience. This should form the basis of your presentation’s content, visual aids, tone, and delivery. Ask yourself why the audience are there, what they expect to hear, and how you can both meet and exceed those expectations.
Stick to your points
Before your presentation, determine your main points and outline them. Now you’ve got a basic structure, which will obviously change through the writing, designing, and rehearsal process, but you should always begin (and stick to) a few critical points rather than speak too generally. That said…
Keep it simple
We always advocate simplicity here, but whether you’re presenting to a general audience or a room of experts, the key is to make things easy – yet compelling – to understand. Focus on presenting in a way that informs, entertains, and inspires. Presentations are a way to change an audience’s way of thinking and even drive them to action, so don’t try to get too fancy or superfluous with details and design accoutrements.
The most memorable TED speakers are open, authentic, and, at times, vulnerable. Often presenters get carried away by those inspiring presenters, trying to emulate style rather than authenticity. The key to authenticity is speaking naturally and developing content that speaks to your message and personality.
Authenticity is driven by connection, not just content. To best engage listeners, build your speech from an emotional place rather than from the content – rattling off facts and figures and talking at the audience isn’t effective if they aren’t interested in what you are saying.
You have a greater chance of persuading and inspiring your audience if you express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic. Show genuine passion for the topic, even if it means being a little self-deprecating or self-aware, so long as it feels authentic and reflects how you would want the same information presented to you as an audience member.
Use humour without jokes
Humour lowers defences, making your audience more receptive to your message. It also makes you seem more likable, and people are more willing to do business with or support someone they enjoy. However, going for a classic joke setup is no good, because your audience is already expecting a punchline. Being humorous can simply come from critiquing a shared experience, sharing an observation of strange but common things among your audiences, which can help ‘break the ice’ and further connect you to your audience.
Brain scans have shown the neural activity triggered by stories, which stimulate and engage humans. Using storytelling in presentations will help ensure your message is remembered long after the presentation. Stories create empathy, which not only help presenters connect with audiences, but helps them agree with what’s being presented and retain that information. A good narrative, especially something personal yet poignant ensures a presentation is memorable and impactful.
Teach the audience something new
The human brain also novelty. Unfamiliar, unusual, or unexpected elements in a presentation jolts the audience out of their preconceived notions, and quickly gives them a new way of looking at the world. The best way to inform, educate, and inspire is by teaching the audience something new and valuable, changing how they see things and understand the topic you presented.
Keep to your allotted time (maybe earlier)
TED presentations are no longer than 18 minutes, since the event creators believe eighteen minutes is the ideal length of time for a presenter to get their point across. This offers enough time to give the necessary information without demanding too much attention from audiences.
Even if you’re presenting for longer than 18 minutes, always be conscious of time, how long you’re spending on each point, and don’t be afraid to shake things up every few minutes. This can be done through different means such as asking audience questions or using video and other visual aids. Speaking of which…
Leave time for questions
In keeping with brevity and simplicity, allowing time for questions is a great way to directly engage with audiences and understand where your presentation may have lacked depth or clarity. Whether you elect to leaving questions to the end or breaking up content with questions form the audience, it’s a useful tool for most presenter, especially since people don’t like being lectured all the time.
Practice relentlessly and internalize your content so that you can deliver the presentation as comfortably as having a conversation with a close friend. It’s also helpful rehearsing with someone who is a good communicator and can offer your honest feedback, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the topic being presented.
TED speaker, author, and fellow Presentation Guild member, Nancy Duarte noted that presenters should first practice with the clock counting up so they can first understand how much time their presentation takes and how much content they need to fill or trim.
“Once you’re within the timeframe, begin practicing with the clock counting down,” Nancy said. “You need to set a few places in your talk where you benchmark a time stamp. Calculate where you need to be in the content in six-minute increments. You should know roughly where you should be at 6, 12 and 18 minutes. You should know which slide you should be on and what you’re saying so that you will know immediately from the stage if you’re on time or running over.”
It may can be helpful to record yourself rehearsal so you can see your stage presence, gestures, eye contact, and body language for yourself. Recording can also be a simple way to measure time if you’ve got no one to judge/assist with your presentation practice.
Know the setup
Practicing within the space you’re presenting is very useful for any addressing any nerves or technical concerns you may have. This will give you a feel for how the audience will be placed and the kind of equipment and stage space you have at your disposal.
Bring it home
The conclusion is usually where TED Talks place a call to action, leaving the audience with a resounding thought and avenue for further information. But more than closing strong, it’s important to have two different conclusions, just in case your presentation runs over time and you need to end abruptly.