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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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      Sean Kim

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

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      Last Updated on March 29, 2021

      5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

      5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

      When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

      What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

      The Dream Type Of Manager

      My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

      I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

      My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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      “Okay…”

      That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

      I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

      The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

      The Bully

      My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

      However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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      The Invisible Boss

      This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

      It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

      The Micro Manager

      The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

      Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

      The Over Promoted Boss

      The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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      You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

      The Credit Stealer

      The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

      Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

      3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

      Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

      1. Keep evidence

      Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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      Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

      Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

      2. Hold regular meetings

      Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

      3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

      Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

      However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

      Good luck!

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