Ted talks are the epitome of presentations.
In fact, they have become synonyms of each other.
The Ted speakers are skilled at explaining complex and innovative ideas.
And they don’t sound like boring lectures.
In fact, these talks have a speaking style that compels you to take action.
Don’t you wish to deliver your presentation like a TED speaker?
I mean, who would want their audience to yawn while they speak?
In this post, you’ll learn the key strategies that go into the making of a Ted talk. We’ll share tips used by successful Ted speakers to help you present like a pro. By the end, you’ll have actionable steps to make your next presentation engaging, inspiring, and memorable.
So, to find out how to do a TED-like talk, keep reading!
- Understanding a TED Talk: Why it’s so Effective?
- 07 Tips To Present Like a Ted Talk Speaker
- Final Thoughts
Understanding a Ted Talk: Why It’s So Effective?
TED is short for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.
TED's mission is conveyed through its tagline, "Ideas worth spreading.”
It is a group that provides a platform for speakers to talk about different topics. The speakers are usually experts in their fields.
TED Talk presentations are typically 18 minutes or less.
And experts explain their ideas in an interesting and easy-to-understand way.
TED covers a wide range of topics, such as science, technology, art, and personal growth.
The goal is to spread ideas and knowledge through short, powerful talks.
Ted talks are famous for:
- High-quality speakers
- innovative ideas
- engaging presentations
- free online viewing
Overall, TED Talks have become a powerful platform for sparking meaningful conversations around the world.
What Makes TED Talks So Effective?
TED presentations are powerful, informative, and thought-provoking.
These talks grab the attention of people all over the world.
Here are the key elements that make TED Talks so effective:
- TED Talks are designed to be short and concise.
Most TED Talks are under 18 minutes long.
Studies have shown that the average person's attention span declines after around 10 to 20 minutes of focused activity.
The brain begins to lose focus, and cognitive fatigue sets in.
The 18-minute time limit ensures that speakers deliver their message concisely. They must distill complex information into a brief, easily understandable format.
The 18-minute rule won’t overwhelm your audience with too much information.
Chris Anderson, TED curator, on TED talk time management:
“The 18-minute length works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.”
- TED Talks are structured to tell a compelling story.
TED speakers often use personal anecdotes, case studies, or real-world examples to illustrate their ideas. This connects the audience on an emotional level.
We all love stories. And most persuasive TED talks are story-driven.
They have a definitive emotional narrative.
Stories not only hold the audience’s attention but also make the message more memorable.
- TED Talks are visually appealing.
A picture speaks a thousand words.
The presentational style of TED talks often uses visuals to convey ideas.
Speakers usually include high-quality images, graphs, and videos in their PowerPoint slides.
Visuals make complex ideas easier and more accessible, even for non-experts.
They offer a more immersive experience.
And the audience remembers the concepts for a long time.
- TED Talks are delivered by passionate speakers.
TED Talks are presented by expert speakers who are passionate about their subject matter.
They have a deep understanding of the topics they are discussing.
Their credibility is well-established in the public eye.
So, when such a speaker talks with authority, they gain the trust of the audience.
Their enthusiasm and conviction are infectious.
Naturally, the audience engages with the topic on a deeper level.
And so they can motivate the audience to take action and bring changes.
Today's world is saturated with information.
But TED Talks have become a shining example of how to deliver powerful messages that capture the attention and inspire change.
Let’s see how you can talk like TED speakers in your presentation.
07 Tips To Present Like a Ted Talk Speaker
Did you notice how TED presentations are termed Talks and not Speeches?
Well, the reason is the basic difference between speaking vs. talking.
The word "speak" implies a more formal, rehearsed speech — a one-sided delivery of information.
While “talk” suggests a conversation between two people — a two-way exchange of information.
The presentational style of TED speakers is always more conversational.
The listeners are the center of their focus.
The simple principle TED speakers follow is that they want their ideas to reach and be understood by as many people as possible.
And all the decisions are driven by this goal.
So, their presentation becomes the simplest, most engaging, and most memorable for the audience.
That’s true for all the successful TED talks.
Here are the 07 Tips to present like a TED speaker:
1. Understanding the audience
“Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it: To Whom It May Concern.” – Ken Haemer.
Suppose you are teaching how to ride a bike to different people.
Now, you wouldn’t use the same approach for a child as you would for an adult.
The same goes for delivering a TED-style talk or presentation.
Knowing your audience is crucial.
It allows you to connect with your audience.
And you’ll adjust your content and delivery to suit their level of knowledge, interests, and needs.
Find out as much as you can about your audience. What is their age group? What is their educational background? What are their interests and hobbies?
Think about their knowledge level. Consider what your audience already knows about your topic.
Connect with their interests.
For example, if you're speaking to a group of tech enthusiasts, you may want to focus on the latest advancements in technology.
Once you've gathered all this information, tailor your message to suit your audience.
2. Crafting the content
“Facts don’t persuade; feelings do. And stories are the best way to get at those feelings.” — Tom Asacker.
All the memorable TED talks evoke emotions in the audience.
It only happens if your presentation is well-crafted, like a story.
Well-crafted content is a good balance of logic and emotion. Logic helps you persuade, and emotion lets your message stick.
Start by identifying the main message that you want to convey. This should be a clear, compelling, and concise statement. It summarizes the key takeaway of your presentation.
Let’s say your presentation topic is “Importance of Communication in the Workplace”.
Your main message could be, “Clarity is the number one communication aspect.”
Once the core message is identified, pen down a brief outline in key bullet points. This will help you stay on track and cover all of your key points.
Then, develop supporting points (logical & emotional) to reinforce your message.
Finally, give a narrative to your material. Like a story arc.
Break your presentation into sections, each with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Include anecdotes and examples to illustrate your points. These can be personal stories or relevant examples from your field.
Here’s what Filmmaker Andrew Stanton advises on how to write a TED Talk:
“Use what you know. Draw from it. It doesn’t always mean plot or fact. It means capturing a truth from your experiencing it, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core.”
Well-crafted content is the backbone of your presentation.
Additionally, make sure you craft your presentation to fit the given time limit. You’ll lose your audience if it’s too long or even too dense.
The number of words in a Ted-like presentation depends on various factors. However, there’s one thumb rule.
Speech Length x 140 (The average speaking rate).
For example, there’ll be around 1400 words in a 10-minute speech. And approximately 560 words in a 4-minute speech.
Write your speech accordingly.
3. Connecting with Your Passion
“We feel most alive when we talk about the things we feel passionate about.” — Steven Aitchison.
Passion is the fuel that drives TED talks.
You are quite enthusiastic when you speak about something you're passionate about.
This positive energy transfers to your audience.
And you’ll notice people listen to you with interest.
When you are passionate, it reflects in your body language, tone of voice, and overall demeanor.
It happens in your daily life too. If you are a cricket lover, you’ll always have some insightful information on that topic. And you’ll easily engage your friends with your delivery.
So, choose a topic that you genuinely care about. Figure out how you can turn it into a compelling and beneficial presentation.
Choosing a topic may not always be in your hand. If it is not, then find something within the given topic that resonates with you.
Let's say you've been asked to give a presentation on the benefits of exercise. But you are not a fitness expert.
In this case, try finding a personal connection to the topic.
Let's say you enjoy going for walks in nature. You could start your presentation around that and slowly transition to the main topic.
Your personal investment in the presentation plays a huge role in its success.
4. Using visuals and technology
“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” — Lee Lacocca.
Visual aids enhance the audience's understanding and retention.
Charts, diagrams, and graphs make complex information easier to understand. Secondly, people are more likely to remember information that is presented visually rather than verbally.
A presentation full of words becomes monotonous and dull. Visual aids capture the audience's attention.
Here are some tips:
- Choose the right type of visual aid for your message, such as slides, images, videos, infographics, or props.
- Use visual aids to complement your message, not replace it. Your visual aids should enhance your presentation, not distract from it.
- Ensure that your visual aids are easy to read and understand. Use large fonts and avoid complex graphics or charts.
- Keep it simple. Don't overload a slide with too much information.
- Make sure your visual aids are relevant to your talk and the message you want to convey.
Using technology in your talk can be risky. Technical difficulties can occur at any time.
So, ensure that all equipment is in good working order before the talk.
Check out Tim Urban’ ted talk slides used to explain Why you procrastinate.
5. Nonverbal Communication
“Nonverbal communication is an elaborate secret code that is written nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.” — Edward Sapir.
Nonverbal communication is fascinating.
It reveals our true intentions, emotions, and attitudes without the need for words. And it’s a universal language that is understood across cultures.
Nonverbal cues include body language, facial expressions, and eye contact.
They are just as important as the words you use when it comes to captivating your audience.
Here are some tips for using nonverbal communication to enhance your talk:
- Use open body language: Standing with your arms crossed makes you appear unapproachable. Stand tall, with your shoulders back & your arms relaxed at your sides. This is a power pose.
- It boosts testosterone levels that help you present yourself better in stressful situations.
- Use of Open Body Language
- Make eye contact: Looking into the eye of your listeners builds a personal connection with them. It’s also a good way to keep them attentive. The easy formula to maintain decent eye contact is One Thought – One Person.
- Look at a person, share a thought, and shift to the next member. Do not stare. This also allows you to gauge their reactions and adjust your delivery.
- Use facial expressions: Facial expressions convey emotions and add depth to your message. And make your talk more engaging.
- Smile when appropriate. Use your eyebrows and other facial features to express surprise, excitement, or concern.
- Use gestures: Hand gestures amplify your message and keep your audience engaged. Use them to add emphasis to important points. Be careful not to overdo it, though – too many gestures can be distracting.
In her popular TED Talk, "Your body language may shape who you are," social psychologist Amy Cuddy encourages people to adopt confident, open postures to improve their sense of power and presence.
6. Practice and Preparation
“While you don’t want to practice to the point you sound like a robot; the confidence that you know your message inside out will let you shine on stage.” — Dale Carnegie
Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroanatomist, is known for her memorable TED talk, "My Stroke of Insight” (7.7M views). She rehearsed it 200 times before delivering it on stage.
Practicing your speech is important for several reasons:
- First, you become more familiar with the material. This familiarity helps you feel more confident when giving your speech.
- Second, practicing helps you refine your ideas and structure your thoughts. You may find certain parts unclear or need more detail.
- Third, practicing your speech can help you perfect your delivery. This includes paying attention to your tone of voice, pacing, and body language.
Practice will help you ensure you are conveying the right emotions and messages.
Here are a few tips for rehearsing to do a TED-style presentation:
- Practice in front of a mirror. Pay attention to your body language and facial expressions. Make sure you appear confident.
- Practice with a timer. Make sure you're staying within the allotted time for your talk. Going over time can reduce the impact of your message.
- Record yourself. Listen to your recording and pay attention to your tone of voice, pacing, and clarity of your speech. Identify areas that need improvement.
- Practice with an audience. Practicing in front of a live audience, a friend, family member, or colleague. Ask them to give you honest feedback on your content, delivery, and overall effectiveness.
- It's also important to practice your TED-style talk under pressure. Simulate live presentation conditions to prepare. You may participate in public speaking events or competitions.
- This will help you remain calm, focused, and in control during your presentation.
- Rehearse with visual aids. If you plan on using visual aids during your talk, such as slides or props, make sure to rehearse with them. This will ensure that your timing and transitions are smooth.
- Prepare for the unexpected. Have a backup plan in case of any technical difficulties that may arise. Anticipate potential questions or objections from your audience.
TED speaker Amanda Palmer is a musician and performer.
She spent four months preparing for her 14-minute talk at TED 2013, "The Art of Asking," which has received nearly 9 million views.
She solicited feedback from over 100 people. And performed in front of anyone who would listen.
Her success confirms a great presentation requires feedback and many hours of practice.
Well, one great way to practice public speaking on a daily basis is by getting a personal mentor.
BBR English offers Live 1:1 sessions to hone your English communication skills. Personalized courses help you target your specific needs, such as public speaking, presentations, business communication, grammar, etc. And moreover, the sessions have flexible schedules to keep you consistent.
Book a counseling session with BBR and get your personal mentor today.
7. Handling Nerves and Anxiety
“Feel the fear of public speaking and do it anyway.” — Arvee Robinson
Public speaking can be nerve-wracking, even for experienced speakers.
It's natural to feel anxious about delivering a talk. It is people’s number one fear.
Here are ways to manage your nerves and give a great performance:
- Use Your Fear:
Accept your anxiety and turn it into an asset. Rather than saying, "I'm nervous," tell yourself, "I'm excited.” Remind yourself why your message needs to be said. And then be excited to deliver it. This shift in mindset helps you see your fear as a positive force.
Joe Kowan, a musician and graphic designer, had a fear of public speaking. In his TED talk, Kowan explains instead of fighting his fear, he incorporated it into his act. He wrote a song about his fear that he would perform in his set.
- Visualization Technique.
Many athletes use the visualization method to combat negative thoughts. It simply involves imagining yourself performing well — in as many details as possible.
When your brain repeatedly experiences a scenario, it tends to think that the event has already happened. And you no longer feel afraid of it.
So, visualize yourself walking on the stage, standing confidently, expressing your ideas to the audience, and finishing your speech with applause.
- Rehearse Your Opening Well.
TED speakers spend a lot of thought on how to start a TED talk. One reason is a good opening quickly grabs the audience’s attention. Second, delivering a powerful opening also helps you calm your nerves and feel confident.
TED curators suggest memorizing the opening, if not the whole speech.
Check out six powerful openings to hook your audience here.
- Find Friends in the Audience
Spot a few friendly faces in the audience during the talk and make eye contact.
Find people who are reacting positively to your speech. And deliver your talk to those few members. Keep shifting your gaze from one to the next in turn.
Their positive energy will calm your nerves. If possible, try interacting with them by asking a question or acknowledging them by sharing a smile.
- Your Message Matters
The single most important trick to tackle anxiety is to keep reminding yourself:
Everyone is on your side.
As much as you want to perform well, the audience, too, wants to hear a fruitful talk. They want their attendance to be worth it. And their time well spent. As long as you have something valuable to say, your listeners will forgive your mistakes.
So, focus on adding value to their life with your message. And your anxiety will take a backseat.
TED curator Chris Anderson says, “Audiences embrace speakers who are nervous, especially if the speaker can find a way to acknowledge it. If you flub or stutter a little in your opening remarks, it's fine to say, 'Oops, sorry, a little nervous here.’”
And that’s a wrap!
In conclusion, the skill to present like a Ted speaker will be developed through intentional practice and preparation.
By understanding the audience, crafting compelling content, mastering nonverbal communication, and connecting with your passion, you will be able to captivate and inspire your listeners.
Remember, great speakers were just like you when they began.
What made them great was exposing themselves to public speaking again and again. And getting better each time.
Reflect on the experience and learn from any mistakes or challenges. Take some time to review the video or audio recording of your talk. And identify areas where you could improve.
Don’t undermine what went well. Celebrate your small victories.
As Dale Carnegie says, “Great speakers are not born; they are trained.”
So, don't be afraid to take risks and share your unique perspective with the world.
Your ideas are worth sharing (as says the TED motto), and with the right skills and mindset, you will make a meaningful impact on your audience.
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