TED talks have always been a resource I turn to when I am looking for inspiration or find a topic of interest. So, when I found Chris Anderson’s (Head of TED organisation) book, I bought it and have read it that night.
I found it very interesting with many useful insights and would like to share some of the key messages he spoke about.
It begins with the obvious: “The point of a talk is to say something meaningful.”
Anderson introduces the concept of a throughline, which is “a connecting theme that ties together each narrative element. Every talk should have one.” You should be able to summarize a throughline in less than 15 words and it’s ideal that it has some bit of unexpectedness in them. Some examples:
- More choice actually makes us less happy.
- With body language, you can fake it till you become it.
- Terrible city flags can reveal surprising design secrets.
Questions you should ask yourself:
- Is this a topic I’m passionate about?
- Does it inspire curiosity?
- Will it make a difference to the audience to have their knowledge?
- Is my talk a gift or an ask?
- Is the info fresh or is already out there?
- Can I truly explain the topic in the time allotted, complete with examples?
- Do I know enough about this to make a talk worth the audience’s time?
- Do I have credibility on this topic?
- Can I say 15 words that will persuade someone to hear my talk?
The 5 tools that speaker use:
Anderson encourages to use humour and offers these tips:
- Use things occurring around you and then exaggerate or remix them.
- Have a fun remark ready if you flub your words, the A/V goes awry, or if the clicker fails.
- Build humour into your visuals: contrast what you’re saying with what you’re showing.
- Use satire: saying the opposite of what you mean.
- Timing is critical.
He concludes, “When you can pull together humour, self-deprecation, and insight into a single story, you have yourself a winning start.”
Emphasize four key things when sharing a story:
- Base it on a character your audience can emphasize with.
- Build tension
- Offer the right level of detail.
- End with a satisfying resolution.
Explaining complex subjects is tricky, but he offers one speaker as mastering this challenge:
- He started right where we were.
- He lit a fire called curiosity.
- He brought in concepts one by one.
- He used metaphors.
- He used examples.
There are lots of tools you can use here, in addition to the intuition pumps or the detective story approach:
- Inject some early humour.
- Add an anecdote
- Offer vivid examples
- Recruit third-party validation
- Use powerful visuals
“Persuasion is the act of replacing someone’s worldview with something better. . . . Use the power of reason along with intuition pumps, detective stories, visuals and other plausibility-priming devices.”
Here’s what to ask your audience during and after rehearsals
- Did I get your attention from the get-go?
- Was I making eye contact?
- Did the talk succeed in building a new idea for you?
- Was each step of the journey satisfying?
- Were there enough examples to make everything clear?
- How was my tone of voice? Did it sound conversational or preachy?
- Was there enough variety of tone and pacing?
- Did I sound as if I was reciting the talk?
- Were the attempts at humour natural or awkward? Was there enough humour?
- How were the visuals? Did they help or get in the way?
- Were my body gestures natural?
- Did I finish on time?
- Were there moments you got a little bored? Was there something I could cut?
- Did you notice any annoying traits? Was I clicking my tongue? Swallowing too often? Shifting side to side? Repeatedly using a phrase like “you know” or “like”?
He sums up rehearsal
- Rehearse many times, preferably in front of people you trust.
- Work on it until it’s comfortably under your allocated time and insist on honest feedback
- Your goal is to end up with a talk whose structure is second nature to you so that you can concentrate on meaning what you say.
Four ways to get attention
- Deliver a dose of drama
- Ignite curiosity
- Show a compelling slide, video, or object.
- Tease, but don’t give away.
Seven ways to end a talk
- Camera pull-back
- Call to action
- Personal commitment
- Values and vision
- Satisfying encapsulation
- Narrative symmetry
- Lyrical inspiration
Avery good book with many examples taken from TED talks. In the appendix there is a list of TED talks Anderson refers to, and I am currently working my way down the list of talks that I have not already seen. I strongly recommend purchasing the book and applying the content and one day when you have an ‘Idea worth Spreading’ you will have the tools to deliver your idea in a TED talk.