World-Class Public Speaking Tips: Learning from TED Speakers
Who wouldn’t want to get a crowd jumping up and down like Tony Robbins, or inspire an entire audience like Barack Obama? Public speaking is an essential skill that can help you become a better communicator, build authority, and establish credibility in your field. However, not everyone is born with a talent for public speaking. Most world-class speakers have honed their craft, learning from the best in the industry. In this article, we’ve compiled some of the best public speaking tips from TED speakers. Follow these tips, and you could be the next world-class public speaker!
1. Show up to give, not to take
One of the most important things you need to keep in mind when giving a public talk is to show up to give, not to take. Your audience can easily tell whether you’re up on stage to promote your products or books. As Simon Sinek, a world-class speaker, puts it, “We are highly social animals. Even at a distance on stage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver–a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them–than a taker.”
2. Focus on your breath to stay focused
Breathing is essential to stay focused when you’re giving a public talk. When you’re nervous or backed up by adrenaline, your breathing might become shallow, making it difficult to breathe properly and increasing your panic levels. TED speaker coach, Gina Barnett, recommends, “Take three or four conscious, evenly-paced, smooth inhalations and exhalations. Let the belly go and let the breath go all the way down into your abdomen. This can center your energy and focus your thoughts.”
3. Leave the slides for the boardroom
The best speakers in the world, such as Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Simon Sinek, don’t use slides in their presentations. They are the slides and more. However, if you wish to use a presentation deck, you should have a captivating story to tell. As Cliff Atkinson, the author of Beyond Bullet Points, says, “The single most important thing you can do to dramatically improve your presentations is to have a story to tell before you work on your PowerPoint file.”
4. Use plain English
The key to becoming a great communicator is to keep things simple. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he could have talked about technical features like battery life, storage capacity, and lightning-fast transfer speeds. However, he used plain language and said, “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket.” Jobs’ presentations solely consisted of powerful, specific statements that added up to fewer than 140 characters. Instead of focusing on product features, you should focus on your vision.
5. Leverage the power of the pause
Starting out, most speakers use filler words like “um” and “ah,” which create a nervous atmosphere. However, the best TED speakers leverage the power of pausing. Pausing gives you enough time to think about your next statement while creating a more dramatic effect. For example, in his famous 2005 Stanford University commencement address, “How To Live Before You Die,” Steve Jobs paused nine times in the first minute alone.
6. Embrace the art of the unexpected
The magic and potential downside of a live presentation are that anything can happen. From the slides not being formatted correctly to the mic dying in the middle of your presentation, you have to be prepared for just about anything. The key is to embrace the unexpected and improvise with the flow of events rather than be taken by surprise.
7. Get the audience involved
The best way to help your audience learn and retain information is through immersion. According to the National Training Laboratories, humans retain 5% of what they learn from a lecture, 10% from reading, and 20% from audio-visual. However, humans retain 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion, 75% when they practice what they learned, and 90% when they use it immediately or teach others. This means that no matter how great your presentation is, if your audience isn’t learning through immersion and interaction, they will only retain a small fraction of your message.
In conclusion, becoming a world-class public speaker requires practice and learning from the best in the industry. Ensure that you keep your audience engaged by following these public speaking tips and establishing yourself as a trusted speaker in your field.