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7 Public Speaking Tips From World-Class TED Presenters

7 Public Speaking Tips From World-Class TED Presenters

Who wouldn’t want to get a crowd jumping up and down like Tony Robbins, or inspire an entire audience like Barack Obama?

You’d never know it, but most of these world-class TED speakers were made, not born. As with learning any new skill, you need to go to the best and model their path.

Here we have compiled the best public speaking tips from world-class TED speakers. Study these tips, and you could be the next world-class public speaker.

1. Show up to give, not to take

It’s not uncommon to see speakers get up on stage solely to sell their products or books. It’s blatantly obvious.

These are what Simon Sinek, a world-class speaker, calls “takers.” He elaborates by saying: “We are highly social animals. Even at a distance on stage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver–a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them–than a taker.”

2. Focus on your breath to stay focused

Think about the last time you were nervous or had your adrenaline going.

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Whether you were aware during that experience or not (most people aren’t), your breathing was likely shallow. This makes it difficult to not only breathe, but it only increases your panic of nerves.

TED speaker coach, Gina Barnett, recommends: “Take three or four conscious, evenly-paced, smooth inhalations and exhalations. Let the belly go and let the breath go all the way down into your abdomen. This can center your energy and focus your thoughts.”

3. Leave the slides for the boardroom

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    The best speakers in the world–Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek–don’t use slides in their presentations.

    They are the slides, and more.

    “The single most important thing you can do to dramatically improve your presentations is to have a story to tell before you work on your PowerPoint file.” -Cliff Atkinson, Beyond Bullet Points

    This isn’t to say that there’s nothing wrong with using a presentation deck, you just need to have a captivating story to tell, whether you decide to use a presentation deck or not.

    4. Use plain English

    steve-resized-600

      The key to figuring out how to improve your communication skills? Simplicity.

      When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he could have talked about the long battery life, the ability to hold X gigabytes of music files, and the lightning-fast transfer speeds. But he didn’t use any of the typical technical words that a normal CEO would use.

      Instead, Jobs said: “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket.”

      Upon closer look at Jobs’ presentation, his “headlines” solely consisted of powerful, memorable, specific statements that consistently add up to fewer than 140 characters.

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      Ask yourself: are you describing your product or idea in a “feature” format, instead of focusing on the vision?

      5. Leverage the power of the pause

      Most amateur speakers start out in their speaking career using “um” and “ah”, which create a nervous atmosphere around you. But the best TED speakers leverage the power of pausing, which gives the speaker enough time to think about his next statement, while creating a more dramatic effect.

      Going back to Steve Jobs, in his famous 2005 Stanford University commencement address, “How To Live Before You Die,” he paused nine times in the first minute alone.

      This may feel uncomfortable to a lot of first-time speakers, but there’s many ways to overcome this awkwardness. Gina Barnett calls it “focusing out.” She explains: “Pick anything–like the color green–and look all around you to see where you spot it in the room. Or pick an object to observe. Notice what shoes people are wearing, or who is wearing a watch. Or try paying attention to how light reflects off surfaces.”

      6. Embrace the art of the unexpected

      The magic, and the potential downside, of a live presentation is that anything can happen. Literally anything.

      From the slides not being formatted correctly to the mic dying in the middle of your presentation, you have to be prepared for just about anything.

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      The key is to embrace the unexpected, and be able to improvise with the flow of events happening, rather than be taken by surprise.

      7. Get the audience involved

      How do you remember more information? By immersion.

      The human brain was not naturally developed to learn through lectures. In fact, the National Training Laboratories came up with what’s now known as the “Learning Pyramid.” Their research findings discovered that humans retain:

      5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
      10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
      20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
      30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
      50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
      75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
      90% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)

      This means that no matter how great your presentation is, if your audience is not learning through immersion and interaction, they’re only going to retain a small fraction of your powerful message.

      Which of these public speaking tips will you try out? We’d love to hear it in the comments below.

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      More by this author

      Sean Kim

      Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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      Published on November 12, 2020

      5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

      5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

      What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

      Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

      Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

      While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

      Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

      1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

      When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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      Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

      In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

      • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
      • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
      • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

      While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

      2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

      Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

      Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

      Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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      However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

      3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

      Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

      But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

      It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

      4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

      Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

      Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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      5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

      Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

      For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

      How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

      The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

      If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

      Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

      It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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      Final Thoughts

      If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

      If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

      It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

      More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

      Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

      Reference

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