Just for fun – or is it? How to sound smart in your TEDx Talk

There are such huge dangers in following a formula and sounding the same as everyone else!!

In a hilarious talk capping off a day of new ideas at TEDxNewYork, professional funny person Will Stephen shows foolproof presentation skills to make you sound brilliant — even if you are literally saying nothing. (Full disclosure: This talk is brought to you by two TED staffers, who have watched a LOT of TED Talks.)

Try watching it a second time with the sound off!!

What to do when you present in a boring, repetitive monotone – follow TED speaker Robert’s example

This is a TED Talk by Robert Ballard, deep-sea explorer.

If you can, watch it without listening to the words, just to the pitch of his voice, especially about half way through the talk, at about 7.30.

The majority of his speech is incredibly monotonous.

He gives the impression that he is ashamed of what he is saying, that his audience will find it boring and that it needs to be hurried, get it out of the way as soon as it can be done.

There were times when I thought I would stop watching.

It was that bad!

I didn’t stop watching.

Why?

Because …

he compensated with some fabulous, very successful strategies that had his audience engaged despite the monotony.

What were these strategies and can we use them ourselves?

There were six that I noted, and all of them are powerful – they needed to be!!

1. The message is simple and strong

He has a very simple, well articulated message. Why are we spending so much time and money on space exploration and so little on exploring our oceans? It is repeated. The whole presentation supports it. And the fact that it is regularly stated as a question keeps it hooked into his audience’s minds and hearts.

2. He uses the unexpected

Several of his statements stand out for me but there are others. The first that aroused my attention was the one about how everything he learned at school in his field was wrong. The second was about the map. Normally when we see a blank space on a map we assume it is just an area of similar topography. A space like that on a map of the sea is blank because it is not mapped. Life under the sea exists in ways no life should. Water is upside down. Volcanoes work in ways volcanoes shouldn’t. He sets his audience up and hits them regularly with the unexpected and each point made that way hits strongly.

3. He uses images.

There are 57 image slides in this presentation with no words. There is no conflict in his audience’s minds between spoken and written words. The images reinforce what he is saying and his audience is more likely to remember a point made and supported by an image than one that is only made verbally. I can still see in my mind’s eye the little girl with her mouth open in amazement.

4. Humour

He’s not exactly a humorous speaker, nor a comedian, but he uses subtle humour, and again often the unexpected. There is self effacing humour, and his use of the name Easter Bunny, the statement “I would not let an adult drive a robot. He doesn’t have the gaming experience.” just three examples. And the audience laughs. But they laugh and they are acknowledging the humour but they are also being drawn to the point he is making at the time. The humour simply highlights it.

5. Clever use of Pause

Robert uses pause to highlight a particular point and his uses it powerfully, interspersing it between questions and single words.

He also uses pause as an antidote to a long session of fast-paced narrative. And that is powerful too.

6. Repetition

He repeated the main message. He repeated his main points. He repeated his humorous “Easter Bunny” statement. And it wasn’t saying the same thing over again. It was calling back to it, later in the speech. It’s a powerful technique, puts the segment just completed, monotonous though it may be, into perspective and creates support for the point he is making, or the idea he has introduced.

7. Passion

This man believes in what he is doing.

He is excited by it.

He is passionate about the possibilities it offers and about creating excitement in his audience and in the world, about his project.

And it shows, when he allows it, in his use of pause, in his enthusiasm, and in his energy.

These are not rhetorical devices he just inserted into his speech. They are the result of his enthusiasm and dedication and excitement.

He left the best for last when he talked about being able to ignite that same enthusiasm and excitement in middle-schoolers, when he talked about “creating the classroom of the future” and how you “win or lose a scientist by 8th grade”.

This is what we want.  This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game.  She's watching exploration thousands of miles away and it's just dawning on her what she is seeing.  And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind ...

This is what we want. This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game. She’s watching exploration thousands of miles away and it’s just dawning on her what she is seeing. And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind …

And he had a standing ovation.

Monotonous, maybe, boring no!

Speaking from the heart

I suspect this was well-rehearsed and yet seemed so natural, so conversational.

Do you want to speak to inspire?

We could all do well to learn from this man and the presentation –

repetition,

a mantra,

storytelling skills,

timing,

structure …

Create meaning for your audience – be inspired by “The Beauty of Data Visualisation”

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Images are becoming the new language of content communication.

As David McCandless says … “We are being blasted every day, all of us are being blasted by information design. It’s being poured into our eyes by the web and we’re all visualisers now, we’re all demanding a visual aspect to our information and there’s something magical about visual information.”

The fact that “a picture paints a thousand words” is now mainstream.

As speakers, we use them in our social media. We use them in our blogs. We use them in our presentations.

“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” says David McCandless.

If you’ve watched this TED talk than you will know … if not, then watch right now, and know … that David McCandless inspires with his presentation style, and his amazing ways of designing infographics.

Be reminded of, and inspired by, the possibilities for you as a presenter, and renew your enthusiasm for creating graphics that will allow your audiences, the visitors to your websites and your social media peeps to understand that you have the power to create meaning for them.

3 Steps To Easily Introduce Yourself

I was prowling around Youtube this afternoon (as one does on a Sunday when the grey day does not permit any exploration outdoors!!) and found this beautifully lucid, simple and yet strangely powerful way of putting together an elevator pitch. I love it. Next networking meeting, I’m going to try it out …

Why storytelling is such a powerful tool for speakers

The emotionally charged story recounted at the beginning Dr. Paul Zak’s film—of a terminally ill two-year-old named Ben and his father—offers a simple yet remarkable case study in how the human brain responds to effective storytelling.

As part of his study, Dr. Zak, a founding pioneer in the emerging field of neuroeconomics, closely monitored the neural activity of hundreds of people who viewed Ben’s story.

What he discovered is that even the simplest narrative, if it is highly engaging and follows the classic dramatic arc outlined by the German playwright Gustav Freytag, can evoke powerful empathic responses associated with specific neurochemicals, namely cortisol and oxytocin. Those brain responses, in turn, can translate readily into concrete action—in the case of Dr. Zak’s study subjects, generous donations to charity and even monetary gifts to fellow participants.

By contrast, stories that fail to follow the dramatic arc of rising action/climax/denouement—no matter how outwardly happy or pleasant those stories may be—elicit little if any emotional or chemical response, and correspond to a similar absence of action. Dr. Zak’s conclusions hold profound implications for the role of storytelling in a vast range of professional and public milieus.

Tip for tired voices – Grab a straw

Ingo Titze demonstrates an easy technique that uses a simple straw for hard-working voices. Variations of the straw technique has roots in Northern Europe and has been used for several hundred years. Professor Titze has studied this specific technique scientifically resulting in several scientific peer reviewed publications.

It works!!

Turn your anxiety into a great public speech with this free video lesson

Learn how to turn your anxiety into a great public speech with this free video lesson from a professional public speaker.

Public speaking rules and advice

Brilliant speech by Tim Minchin to the students at the Uni of Western Australia

Tim Minchin, the former UWA arts student described as “sublimely talented, witty, smart and unabashedly offensive” in a musical career that has taken the world by storm, is awarded an honorary doctorate by The University of Western Australia.

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He speaks our language!!

I just loved this presentation, this speech – not just his style, but his content, based around our culture and our language – so wise and so hilarious.

Persuasion/inspiration/information/entertainment at its best!