Most people watch TED talks to be inspired by the “idea worth spreading” and entertained by the speaker’s engaging delivery. As a business presenter, you probably watch with a sense of admiration and a deeper purpose: to learn how these talented communicators do it. After all, these speakers are at the top of their game.
Last spring, I was honored to serve on the Speaker Selection Committee and as a speaker coach for the TEDxRaleigh event in North Carolina. Recently, I asked those speakers to share their best advice for business professionals to step up their presentation proficiency.
Here are their insider tips, complete with links to each speaker’s TED talk to further inspire you!
- Challenge yourself
To boost your presentation skills and get better results, take on a presentation challenge that’s outside your comfort zone. That might mean participating in a local TED event, or sharing your expertise at an industry conference or product launch. Participating in events at this level can help you grow your skills because you’ll be able to take advantage of valuable opportunities to learn from presentation coaches as well as colleagues.
Lynette Lewis always wanted to be a TED speaker, despite her experience as a professional presenter she believed it was out of reach. When the opportunity arose to try out for the TEDxRaleigh event, she jumped at the chance.
“I was looking to overcome familiar patterns and be fresh and inspiring to my audience,” said Lynette. “Working with professional coaches at the TEDxRaleigh event pushed my skills to a whole new level of excellence. I became much bolder and more comfortable as a speaker, refining my presence and rhythm for maximum impact.”
“I compare being a TED speaker to making the Olympic team. You work hard for years to earn a spot, but then you have to work and prepare like never before, with an Olympic-level coach, to WIN at a whole new level.”
Larry Burke and Nilda Cosco concur with that advice. “Don’t think it is easy! It takes commitment, hours of practice, and a good coach to convey a clear message,” said Nilda.
- Identify your unique perspective and hone your message
Kevin Snyder, Curator for the TEDxRaleigh event, recommends honing in on the value that you alone can bring to the audience.
What is it you know about your topic that others don’t? What can you reveal to the audience that will resonate with them? Once you’ve discovered the unique perspective only you can provide, you are well on your way to developing a message that has impact and delivers results.
All of the TEDxRaleigh speakers worked hard at honing their core message to make it meaningful and to leave a lasting impression on the audience. To make it memorable and inspiring, they distilled it down to a short, polished sound bite.
“You want to make it something people will take away and share with others,” said Lynette.
Learn more: TEDx Secrets to Success for Every Speaker
- Solicit feedback
Another highly recommended strategy by the TEDxRaleigh speakers: actively seek out feedback from others to hone your message. As business professionals are increasingly realizing, there is a tremendous amount to be gained from collaboration.
The most valuable input will come from members of your target audience. Reach out to them as well as other stakeholders to learn their point of view. Also, don’t underestimate the value of getting the advice of your peers. “Doing so allows you to share what’s useful to your audience,” said Lynette. That helps your message resonate and drives results for you.
- Use your passion to inspire
As a business communicator, you might not always be as emotionally invested in your subject matter as a TED speaker. However, you can use your desire to accomplish your goals as fuel to drive a passionate delivery that will inspire others.
TIP: It’s your enthusiasm for your topic that drives an engaging, authentic delivery that will resonate with listeners. Read this related article to learn how to develop a message you believe in: The One Thing You Must Do To Be Successful When You Speak.
TEDxRaleigh speaker Doug Stewart reminds us why it’s so important to speak with passion and conviction. “Every second is an opportunity to change your life. And when your life changes, so do the lives around you.” Every presentation is an opportunity to promote your business goals and possibly even change your career. Make sure you’re taking full advantage of it!
Have you had the opportunity to speak at a high-level event such as TED? Please share your lessons learned in the comments.