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TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris J. Anderson

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Fear of public speaking experience is not just about being in in that moment, it is about damaging our longer-term reputation. How others think of us matters hugely – so prepare.

For a TED talk you need an idea that you want to share. Suggests if you stick to a formula for your talk or if you try to do it simply to impress the audience it won’t go down well as they will know they are being played. Be yourself, don’t name drop or promote yourself too much in the talk, leave the audience to make up their own mind.

You are wanting to convey insights and actionable ideas, that other people can get ideas from. Try to have humility, honesty and vulnerability. Get the audience curious, use metaphors and examples to assist understanding, building the concept slowly in the audiences mind.

Don’t fall from the curse of knowledge, this is when you assume people already know underlying critical information that you are elaborating on.  Explain something in the simplest possible way so someone who isn’t familiar with these terms understands it. 

Suggests that instead of ever-greater amounts of ever-more-specialized knowledge, TED will need: contextual knowledge, creative knowledge, and a deeper understanding of our own humanity. Contextual knowledge means knowing the bigger picture, knowing the way all the pieces fit together. Creative knowledge is the skill set obtained by exposure to a wide variety of other creative humans. A deeper understanding of our own humanity comes not from talking to your parents or your friends, nor to psychologists, neuroscientists, historians, evolutionary biologists, anthropologists, or spiritual teachers, it comes from truly listening to all of them.

To engage with your audience make you talk a bit like a detective story with some suspense. Some of the most compelling persuasion talks are structured like this:

Start with the big mystery

Travel the world of ideas in search of possible solutions to it

Ruling the solutions out one by one

Until there’s only one viable solution that survives.

Limit slides so one concept on one slide and consider not even having a single slide. If using slides consider using a blank (black) slide in between slides to provide more impact on the slides you do so. A slide should highlight relevant things, with minimal text and contain large pictures.

Be in speaking mode rather than reading mode. Certainly no reading, if you read you won’t stay warmly connected to the audience.

Whatever you do practice and don’t be unprepared. Practice so you have the timing just right – aim for the talk to last 90% of the planned duration, this allows for some time to engage with audience.

To learn your talk practice in many ways, even presenting in double speed! Write it down, speak it and record it. Then transcribe it and you can optimise script from the transcribed practice. With this preparation the talk is second nature so then you can enjoy delivering the performance.  Select an outfit you feel comfortable in and do a dress rehearsal.

Use a hook initially to capture their attention and don’t give this away too soon, so you build up suspense throughout your talk.

Change fear into motivation It is not about you it is about spreading the idea. Consider writing “this matters” on your notes this suggestion was from Monica Lewinsky when she did a TED talk and was nervous prior to this. 

Usually there is no lectern, nothing in the way of you and the audience, it will be just you, a single hand-held note card, and the audience. In many ways this is the gold standard to aim for. If you must add notes, use as few as possible, and with just two-or three-word bullet points.

Try to practice giving the talk with the absolute minimum number of glances at monitors which prompt you.

Memorise the start and end – these are the most important bits, grab the audience immediately, start strong.  Make the ending memorable, whatever you do don’t just say thanks. Take the opportunity to elaborate on the potential and ask the audience to do things – call them to action!

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