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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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      Published on September 16, 2020

      12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

      12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

      Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

      Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

      Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

      Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

      Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

      Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

      1. Organization

      When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

      When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

      Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

      To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

      To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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      2. Flexibility

      You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

      Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

      For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

      To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

      To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

      3. Collaboration

      As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

      Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

      To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

      To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

      4. Poise

      Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

      When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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      What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

      To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

      To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

      5. Communication

      Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

      When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

      To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

      To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

      6. Good Computer Hygiene

      Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

      Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

      To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

      To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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      7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

      Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

      Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

      To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

      To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

      8. Respecting Feedback

      In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

      Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

      To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

      To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

      9. Project Management

      Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

      To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

      To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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      10. Staying up to Speed

      Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

      To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

      To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

      11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

      “Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

      To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

      To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

      12. Teamwork

      Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

      Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

      To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

      To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

      Final Thoughts

      Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

      More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

      Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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