Giving a TED-Style presentation

Most presentations are about conveying facts and expectations, not passions and possibilities. And because business speakers represent their organisations instead of themselves, they tend to be cautious not just in what they say, but in how they say it.

TED has set the gold standard for public speaking, and TED speakers work very hard at creating presentations that go viral; many TED talks have been viewed up to 20 million times. The bottom line is this – you can have a great idea, but in the information age if you cannot communicate your idea persuasively in a succinct, compelling pitch, it doesn’t matter.

In case you didn’t know, TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design and TEDx events are independently organised. TED talks are short and typically fewer than 18 minutes. Speakers speak for free at TED events, but in return can gain massive online exposure.

What good presentations have in common is that they were created carefully and thoughtfully with the audience in mind and were delivered with passion, clarity, brevity, and always with ‘the story’ of it in mind. Adopting the following techniques have brought some TED speakers global acclaim and will make it much more likely that you will persuade your audience to act on your ideas.

Unleash the master within

Passion leads to mastery and mastery forms the foundation of an extraordinary presentation. You cannot inspire others unless you are inspired yourself. You stand a much greater chance of persuading and inspiring your listeners if you express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic. TED-style talks are personal. The only reason to give a TED talk is that you feel passionately about something, and your sense of purpose creates an energy boost for both you and your audience.

Take your audience on a journey

As the speaker shares his transition from ignorance to understanding of some important truth, we follow along in his footsteps. Where business speeches generally focus on a desired outcome, TED talks are also about the process of realising how you’re going to get there.

Tell stories to bond with your prospect

Telling stories is the single best way to make an emotional connection with your listener. Tell stories to reach people’s hearts and minds. Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view.

Teach your audience something new

The human brain loves novelty. An unfamiliar, unusual, or unexpected element in a presentation jolts the audience out of their preconceived notions, and quickly gives them a new way of looking at the world.

Deliver jaw-dropping moments

The jaw-dropping moment – scientists call it an ‘emotionally competent stimulus’ – is anything in a presentation that elicits a strong emotional response such as joy, fear, shock, or surprise. It grabs the listener’s attention and is remembered long after the presentation is over.

Be concise and stick to the 18-minute rule

A TED presentation can be no longer than 18 minutes. Eighteen minutes is the ideal length of time to get your point across. Researchers have discovered that ‘cognitive backlog’, too much information, prevents the successful transmission of ideas.

Favour pictures over text

PowerPoint is not the enemy. Bullet points are. Some of the best TED presentations are designed in PowerPoint. Regardless of the software, there are no bullet points on the slides of the best TED presentations. There are pictures, animations, and limited amounts of text – but no slides cluttered with line after line of bullet points. This technique is called ‘picture superiority’. It simply means we are much more likely to recall an idea when a picture complements it.

Stick to the rule of three

Simply put, we can only remember about three to five key messages in short-term memory. Chances are people will only remember three things from your presentation. So before you start writing your presentation, plan what your three key messages will be. Once you have these messages, structure the main part of your presentation around these three key themes and look at how they could be better illustrated.

Use humour without telling a joke

Most small business owners are not comedians. There’s a real art to telling a joke. Don’t feel as though you need to make one. But humour is very important to tear down walls and to connect us to one another.

Improve your public speaking and knock the socks off any audience!

Your ability to persuasively sell your ideas is the single greatest skill that will help you achieve your dreams. You can learn to astonish, electrify, and inspire your audiences. With proper training you can become a powerful presenter and use this skill as a key ingredient for your success.

Maurice Kerrigan Africa offers a two and a half day training course on Effective Speaking and Presentation that will equip you with all the tools you’ll need to present to any audience.

You might be interested in attending one their upcoming course scheduled from 22 – 24 July, 2015 in Johannesburg and Durban.

Click here to look at Maurice Kerrigan Africa’s training schedule or to make a booking.

To find out more about the training courses offered by Maurice Kerrigan Africa or to arrange an appointment, simply call +27 11 794 1251 or email




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