Speaking in public to an audience is the most terrifying experience many – most – people will have. Yet when you master the skills, have a story worth sharing, and deliver a great performance, the experience can be like skyrockets going off in your mind. The TED movement – originally for Technology, Entertainment and Design – has advanced the art of presentation giving (and receiving) to a widely celebrated art form. TED was founded in 1984 by the garrulous impresario Richard Saul Wurman, and for many years it was the greatest private club in the world. Chris Anderson bought TED in 2001 and threw the doors open. Today TED Talks have been viewed several billion times and the brand has become synonymous with brainy stuff that changes the world and makes it better.

Chris Anderson has just released The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking to help not only TED speakers prepare, but also to help everyone who has had one of those “I’d rather swallow a tarantula than get up in front of a room full of people” moments. Here are his top tips:

  • A speaker’s job is to give, not take
  • Slash back your topics to a single idea and connect every point to that theme
  • Get personal
  • Knowledge can’t be pushed into a brain, it has to be pulled in
  • Start strong, end stronger
  • Everyone can learn to give an effective talk

Plus, I would add: practice. You all know the line about the visitor to Manhattan asking a local how to get to Carnegie Hall, and the local answered “practice practice practice.” A mate did a TEDx talk at the biggest TED event in the world – 2500 people in Auckland NZ. He told me he locked himself in a hotel room for five days, wrote a script, and learnt it line by line, pause by pause, para by para, page by page. Practised it dozens of times, standing in front of a mirror, with the phone on record mode. He had a skyrocket moment.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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