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7 Public Speaking Tips From World-Class TED Presenters

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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

keynote_images-resized-600

    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 November 15, 2021

      20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

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      20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

      “Please describe yourself in a few words”.

      It’s the job interview of your life and you need to come up with something fast. Mental pictures of words are mixing in your head and your tongue tastes like alphabet soup. You mutter words like “deterministic” or “innovativity” and you realize you’re drenched in sweat. You wish you had thought about this. You wish you had read this post before.

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        Image Credit: Career Employer

        Here are 20 sentences that you could use when you are asked to describe yourself. Choose the ones that describe you the best.

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        “I am someone who…”:

        1. “can adapt to any situation. I thrive in a fluctuating environment and I transform unexpected obstacles into stepping stones for achievements.”
        2. “consistently innovates to create value. I find opportunities where other people see none: I turn ideas into projects, and projects into serial success.”
        3. “has a very creative mind. I always have a unique perspective when approaching an issue due to my broad range of interests and hobbies. Creativity is the source of differentiation and therefore, at the root of competitive advantage.”
        4. “always has an eye on my target. I endeavour to deliver high-quality work on time, every time. Hiring me is the only real guarantee for results.”
        5. “knows this job inside and out. With many years of relevant experience, there is no question whether I will be efficient on the job. I can bring the best practices to the company.”
        6. “has a high level of motivation to work here. I have studied the entire company history and observed its business strategies. Since I am also a long-time customer, I took the opportunity to write this report with some suggestions for how to improve your services.”
        7. “has a pragmatic approach to things. I don’t waste time talking about theory or the latest buzz words of the bullshit bingo. Only one question matters to me: ‘Does it work or not?'”
        8. “takes work ethics very seriously. I do what I am paid for, and I do it well.”
        9. “can make decisions rapidly if needed. Everybody can make good decisions with sufficient time and information. The reality of our domain is different. Even with time pressure and high stakes, we need to move forward by taking charge and being decisive. I can do that.”
        10. “is considered to be ‘fun.’ I believe that we are way more productive when we are working with people with which we enjoy spending time. When the situation gets tough with a customer, a touch of humour can save the day.”
        11. “works as a real team-player. I bring the best out of the people I work with and I always do what I think is best for the company.”
        12. “is completely autonomous. I won’t need to be micromanaged. I won’t need to be trained. I understand high-level targets and I know how to achieve them.”
        13. “leads people. I can unite people around a vision and motivate a team to excellence. I expect no more from the others than what I expect from myself.”
        14. “understands the complexity of advanced project management. It’s not just pushing triangles on a GANTT chart; it’s about getting everyone to sit down together and to agree on the way forward. And that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.”
        15. “is the absolute expert in the field. Ask anybody in the industry. My name is on their lips because I wrote THE book on the subject.”
        16. “communicates extensively. Good, bad or ugly, I believe that open communication is the most important factor to reach an efficient organization.”
        17. “works enthusiastically. I have enough motivation for myself and my department. I love what I do, and it’s contagious.”
        18. “has an eye for details because details matter the most. How many companies have failed because of just one tiny detail? Hire me and you’ll be sure I’ll find that detail.”
        19. “can see the big picture. Beginners waste time solving minor issues. I understand the purpose of our company, tackle the real subjects and the top management will eventually notice it.”
        20. “is not like anyone you know. I am the candidate you would not expect. You can hire a corporate clone, or you can hire someone who will bring something different to the company. That’s me. “

        Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

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