Since time immemorial, humans have taken to the stage so that they could be seen and speak their hearts out. With each word, they captivate and mesmerize people. With every breath, these speakers commanded the language like no other, making crowds stay and listen, and even wanting for more.
It’s not like history has a shortage of outstanding public speakers. Those who have rhetoric skills, who have etched their names in eternity, along with the long list of heroes, villains, sinners, and saints, are remembered long after their time, immortalized by their craft in history books and the Internet. From legendary Roman spokesperson Cicero and Greek general Pericles to author Susan Cain and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the world has seen its fair share of public speakers who can dominate the stage and fascinate their audiences with their piece or with whatever they present.
But what a public speaker so endearing? How do they command the charisma that inspires listeners to their cause? Is there a trick to their success? Are they magic? Through simple inspection, the most obvious commonality among them all is their ability to move the emotions and opinions of their audiences.
Today’s age doesn’t have much of the oratory events that the ancient times had; the closest in modernity, and arguably the biggest, is the annual TED Talks. Apart from the leap in technological levels and different preparatory techniques, though, is there any other difference between then and now in terms of oration?
If anything, what’s most intriguing are the speakers. From then up to now, time has tried and successfully proven that the very attributes that made names like Cicero, Pericles, and Demosthenes legendary are the very same benchmarks of a great public speaker today. In short, when you exhibit and emulate the following traits, then you can be one of the greats of this era. What are those characteristics? The following infographic will fill you in.
Inzunza, Victor. “History’s Greatest Speakers and Their Greatest Speeches.” Pencils.com. December 3, 2012. www.pencils.com/historys-greatest-speeches
If you’ve been to the more mainstream conventions of recent years, like Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Mobile World Congress, and The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), then you know what the experience is like. Right off the gate, you have long lines of participants waiting to get in. Upon entering, you’re greeted with any of the following: booths filled to the brim with products and memorabilia, guests carrying freebies and whatnot from other exhibits, etc. You can hear multiple voices and gimmicks coming from everywhere. There are too many sights ahead and overhead.
Mind you, these are major events, with conglomerates from all over the world sending their representatives for the chance to present in one the industry’s biggest stages. If you’re in a relatively smaller fair, though, do you need to be well-advertised?
Yes—or at least emulate how the big names draw people to their booths. A primary benefit of this type of gathering is that you can interact with your potential customers face to face—arguably the best way to engage them—instead of through different schemes, screens, and means.
Before that, however, you must get their attention. How? By employing the following.
When you have a working model of your product or service, you’re in a prime position to show potential consumers a demonstration of how it works: its strengths and unique traits that make it different from competitors’ offers. The best thing is that they get to see it firsthand and up close, if not outright experience the quality-of-life improvement.
Alternatively, you could let them try it themselves. A free trial can give potential customers a taste of how to handle your item and immediately experience the help you’re offering. When you leave them wanting for more, you’ve got them hooked.
Small activities that get the blood pumping and let participants win are good icebreakers for you. The point is enjoying their presence. The more you let them feel that they’re important to your booth—and by extension your company—the more you pique their interest and start and deepen bonds. Even new relationships can go deeper than usual when customers have fun with you.
That’s the main point of this activity. You seek to leave a very good first impression upon your booth visitors. When that release of dopamine, serotonin, and possibly adrenaline hits them, that triggers a connection that they remember from your exhibit and your brand.
When people visit your booth and have fun, you want to have a record of that. And they will too. Taking photographs is a good way of providing yourself with a good reminder of each customer, but you can take it one step further. Share those pictures on your social media platforms (don’t forget your hashtags) and tag them.
Better yet, ask if they can upload it on their own pages. And lucky you if they do. It’s like a visual representation of word of mouth: the more their personal connections see your stuff and how the poster enjoyed your booth, the more curious they become. They can also become leads given time and the proper attention.
Live Social Media Updates
People usually tweet and post updates about everything, especially when in a state of euphoria. What follows is a long series of statements about how great the event is and how nice the people are, which are often accompanied by pictures to hype everything up.
You could do the same. By giving your online audience a sneak peek, you not only update those who couldn’t come but also give an idea, or at least some level of expectation, on what future participants can experience the next time you’re going to a trade show.
At the end of the day, you’re going to look back on how and why those people went up to your booth and listened to what you have said. If you’re wondering why so many visited your spot, then think no more. Your attention grabbers worked beautifully. You may soon see more visitors because other attendees saw how fun your booth is. Isn’t that your end goal? To have people know about your venture?
Will traditional means of promotion cut it? Don’t expect your competitors to skimp on the basics—since they don’t expect you to cut corners on the same. When you’re all on equal footing, the deciding factor becomes the extra mile you’re willing to take to hook people in, to show them and let them experience something memorable, and to make them come back.
Are you willing to do it?
Biala, Susan. “How to Boost Your ‘Happy Hormones’.” Best Health Magazine. October 2014. www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/mental-health/how-to-boost-your-happy-hormones
Fusion, Jennn. “Trade Show Promotional Ideas.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/trade-show-promotional-ideas-1444.html
Hovde, Kristin. “5 Trade Show Promotion Ideas for More Engagement.” TSNN. August 24, 2014. www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/5-trade-show-promotion-ideas-more-engagement
James, Geoffrey. “Give a Great Product Demo: 5 Rules.” Inc. May 24, 2012. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/give-a-great-product-demo-5-rules.html
Kaufenberg, Jackie. “19 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Next Tradeshow or Event.” Vivid Image. August 13, 2014. www.vimm.com/social-media-tradeshow
Thimmesch, Mike. “10 Top Tips for Trade Show Promotions.” Skyline. November 16, 2011. www.skylinetradeshowtips.com/10-top-tips-for-trade-show-promotions
Wyse, Susan E. “7 Tips to Market Your Business Effectively at Trade Shows.” Snap Surveys. April 10, 2012. www.snapsurveys.com/blog/7-tips-market-business-effectively-trade-shows
“12 Trade Show and Event Promotion Mistakes to Avoid.” Skyline E3. February 7, 2017. www.skylinee3.com/blog/12-trade-show-and-event-promotion-mistakes-to-avoid
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When you think of theater, you imagine a stage, a backdrop, and the multiple stage properties that actors use to bring a story to life. Props help not only the troupe but also the audience in reliving the experience of the characters and injecting a different sense of realism in a manner that only plays and musicals can deliver, and not just imagining how everything unfolds.
In a similar vein, you could liken a presentation to a stage play. You prance around onstage, tell a story, and evoke emotions and solicit responses from your audience. And… you use props? Is it even necessary? Here are the pros and cons of incorporating them into your speeches.
Pro: Props are powerful tools you could use to concretize points and provide nonabstract examples to an idea. Kind of like giving a face to a name. If anything, that concept of “concreteness” can make a thought clearer, more compelling, and more conducive to learning. Provide a good model or a situation that perfectly illustrates every aspect of the abstract concept.
Con: However, a bad example may end up making the subject even more complicated and confusing. Instead of explaining the finer points, a mismatch of properties and attributes between your example and the idea you’re trying to explain could lead to their total disregard. Avoid false analogies.
Pro: The moment your audience sees your prop, one of two events will happen: if you show it immediately, you make them curious of how it relates to your point; if you wait until the perfect time, then there’s a sudden realization of, “So that’s how that works.”
Con: Of course, your audience needs to see it first, from the people in the first row to the back of the room, even the ones just standing up near the exit. So, should it be a medium- to large-sized object? Those are plausible, but if you’re uncomfortable and look awkward using your prop, then that’s just a cringe-fest for viewers. If it’s too small, then the impact that everyone should have felt is now limited to only a few in front of you. You could prevent the latter with video projection on a screen, but otherwise, consider the size of your prop and the stage. Don’t waste your efforts with props only you can see and appreciate.
Pro: Look at this one in two ways: whether your prop works or not and whether it’s practical or impractical. For the former, make sure it doesn’t malfunction during the most important part of your speech. Planning even the littlest details down to the letter is a good way to impress your audience with your prop, especially when it’s a complex piece of equipment or a simple tool used to simplify a complex concept. For the latter, show how it could also function in their lives. More than just a demo, this is an application of its practicality.
Con: Again, here are two ways to look at it: accidents or any unwanted incidents because your prop failed and undesired impressions because of how clunky or how awkward it looks when being used.
As a final point, does having a prop work? Are you comfortable enough with using an object and explaining how it relates to your main point? There are proponents of the notion, and they even recommend going the extra mile. The results are worth the effort.
A prop is a tool, and as such, it can be used to have a good effect or a bad one. It all depends on how you use it. This one falls squarely on your shoulders.
However, there are general reminders you must ask before you plan on using whatever prop you need:
Are you sure it will impact your audience with the intended effect?
Will it be big enough so that everyone in the venue can see it?
Have I tested it properly and won’t fail me while I talk?
Is it even a good idea to use props here?
If your answers to the questions above are all yes, then by all means, use one. By then, the only concern you have is if it will drive your point home. Take care of that, and you’ll have an effective presentation in store for your audience… if you can pull it off. Isn’t that a good challenge?
Gallo, Carmine. “Using Props to Improve Your Presentations.” Bloomberg. January 28, 2009. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-13/synchronous-global-recovery-masks-a-deepening-asset-imbalance
Grant, Anett. “How to Use Props to Make Your Presentation More Powerful.” FastCompany. July 28, 2015. www.fastcompany.com/3048857/how-to-use-props-to-make-your-presentation-more-powerful
Linehan, Dave. “How to Use Props in Presentations.” DaveLinehan.com. November 17, 2015. www.davelinehan.com/props-in-presentations
Miller, Fred E. “Props for Presentations: Seen and UnSeen!” No Sweat Public Speaking. October 13, 2009. www.nosweatpublicspeaking.com/props-for-presentations-seen-and-unseen
Miller, Fred E. “Using Props in a Presentation.” No Sweat Public Speaking. September 21, 2009. www.nosweatpublicspeaking.com/using-props-in-a-presentation
Weinstein, Yana and Megan Smith. “Learn to Study Using … Concrete Examples.” The Learning Scientists. August 25, 2016. www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/8/25-1
Zimmer, John. “How Do Props Help a Presentation?” Manner of Speaking. September 25, 2011. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2011/09/25/how-do-props-help-a-presentation
Zimmer, John. “Ten Tips for Using Props in a Presentation.” Manner of Speaking. September 29, 2011. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2011/09/29/ten-tips-for-using-props-in-a-presentation
“How to Use a Prop When You Are Presenting.” Time to Market. n.d. www.timetomarket.co.uk/presentation-tips/confident-presentation-tips/how-to-use-a-prop-when-you-are-presenting
It’s understandable why some people refuse to host webinars to boost their marketing campaign. The experience can be stressful when undertaken the wrong way. First-timers who aren’t confident enough to believe that they have what it takes to pull off the event can find the experience nerve-wracking. Like most presentations, webinars require careful planning. Hosts are expected to devote ample time to ensure that everything goes well—and the implications of that fact alone are enough to give anyone cold feet.
However, if there’s one reason why businesses should still consider hosting a webinar, it’s that the pay-off is well worth the hassle. A webinar provides a whole range of functionalities that other types of media and social platforms can’t offer. For instance, webinars are a quick and surefire way to forge new connections and generate trust from potential clients in your target niche. Also, compared to live seminars, webinars are more practical and regulated because they cost less, demand less time, and can be controlled from start to finish.
If you leave out webinars from your campaign, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities. To keep abreast with the latest technology, you need to host effective webinars.
The Secrets of Successful Webinar Hosts
There aren’t many webinar hosts out there who can draw their target audience’s attention from the start and sustain it until the end. However, those who are skilled enough to do this aren’t hard to emulate. In fact, their strategies when analyzed are easy to understand. Below are some of the secrets of successful webinar hosts.
1. They craft attention-grabbing headlines
Coming up with a catchy headline is winning half the battle. Your potential attendees have no way of knowing exactly what they’ll be getting out of your webinar, so it’s important that the title of your event packs enough information without sacrificing fun.
2. They learn their way around webinar technologies
You’d think it’s obvious, but many webinar hosts still don’t realize that getting the hang of webinar technologies before an event is an absolute must. They wait until the last minute before doing a test run. By leaving out this important step, they take value from their overall experience and the audience’s. The result is dissatisfaction on both ends.
Even on the onset, you should be involved in deciding which webinar tool to use. Consider all possible factors when making this decision. Also, make sure that your provider is willing to train your team so that you can make the most of your webinar experience. Knowing how webinar technologies work will enable you to provide clear instructions to your audience. Equipped with this knowledge, you can walk them through the various features and functionalities of the tools you’re using.
3. They put audio over everything else
In a live presentation, the way you carry yourself onstage is as important as the way you sound. You need to keep the audience invested not only in what you say but also in the way you say it. The same can be said about webinars, although audio-related factors are way more important in this platform than visual ones. Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, the audience sometimes don’t get the chance to see you face-to-face. The only connection you have with them is your voice. This is why it’s imperative that you get a good external mic and a soundproof room to aid in audio quality. On top of this, you should make sure to use a confident and conversational tone to keep your audience engaged.
4. They hold the audience’s attention to the last minute
Don’t be too naïve to assume that your audience will stay with you from beginning to end. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. With so many distractions that technology offers, you have no choice now but to compete for your audience’s attention. It would serve you well to add interesting elements like lively videos, good humor, captivating narratives, intriguing facts, and relevant questions into your presentation.
5. They practice and practice some more
One way to make sure that your webinar is seamless is by doing a test run. As they say, practice makes perfect. By reviewing your performance before going live, you give yourself a chance to polish the whole thing and minimize errors. Don’t wait until the last minute before you try out the webinar tools you’re going to use. Test them ahead of time—ideally at the same time you review your content and delivery. Practicing your act will help lessen your stress and give you more confidence.
6. They take marketing seriously
The most successful webinars are those that are marketed optimally. There’s only one way for you to attract a wide audience, and that is to promote the webinar ahead of time. Explore different social media platforms and start online discussions to promote the event. By maximizing all marketing opportunities, you can also maximize audience reach.
7. They review feedback to better themselves
No matter how good you are, there is always an opportunity for learning—a room for improvement that you may have overlooked before. That’s why after delivering a webinar, you should review your performance and take whatever feedback you can, whether good or otherwise. By doing this, you can become a better webinar host.
Webinars are here to stay, so the wise thing to do is tame the platform while it’s still not overused. With the aforementioned tips, you can become a better webinar host and expand your brand reach.
Carucci, John & Sharan, Sharat. “How to Ensure Webinar Audio Quality.” Dummies. n.d. www.dummies.com/careers/business-communication/webinars/how-to-ensure-webinar-audio-quality
Dietrich, Gini. “14 Steps to Hosting a Successful Webinar.” Convince and Convert. n.d. www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/14-steps-to-hosting-a-successful-webinar
Pappas, Christoforos. “Hosting a Winning Webinar: The Ultimate Guide.” eLearning Industry. August 22, 2015. elearningindustry.com/hosting-winning-webinar-ultimate-guide
Pappas, Christoforos. “Top 7 Tips to be a Successful Webinar Host.” eLearning Industry. October 5, 2015. elearningindustry.com/top-7-webinar-tips-successful-webinar-host
Warren, Gabriela. “How to Organize and Host a Webinar.” Lifewire. September 20, 2016. www.lifewire.com/how-to-organize-and-host-a-webinar-2377237
Weller, Nathan B. “The 15 Best Webinar Software Products from Around the Web.” Elegant Themes. January 17, 2015. www.elegantthemes.com/blog/resources/the-15-best-webinar-software-products-from-around-the-web
Look around you. You’re bound to see a picture or ten. It’s amazing how images have permeated the collective mind. But in hindsight, they have always had the power to do so. Historically, cave paintings served as the first method of documentation. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were mostly drawn or carved. One could even say that everything you see is an image, scientifically speaking.
With that much influence, it’s no wonder that pictures have spread far and deep into the collective subconscious. So much that it became the driving force for the invention of the camera, making portraits easier to create and, after many technological advances over the decades, instant.
In that same vein, photographs became available online, including stock images. But the term has been met with both positive and negative reactions. There are arguments from both sides saying that stock photography is cheap—if not downright free—but that, legally, you’re better off using originals.
Where do you side in the argument? Presentation design-wise, you’re better off not using stock photography for your deck and instead creating your own that fit your or a presentation agency’s design—a.k.a. the perfect images for your slides. Here are reasons why.
Lack of Authenticity and Creativity
There’s no greater show of designer laziness than using stock images. Why? Because it’s already available online. You can get one with just a few clicks. Never mind using your own resources for that photoshoot (which doesn’t have to be grand to begin with).
Using stock images is the easy way out. There’s a certain lack of creativity that stock images display because all it takes is a “yes or no” choice: does it portray what I want? Instead of getting specifically what you’re looking for, you settle for another since it’s ripe for the taking. While there are alternatives, like your own shoot, it won’t be as easy as just downloading one.
It doesn’t help, too, that stock images are easily obtainable from the Internet. What are the chances that you’re the only one using a particular photo? Zero. It’s bound to show up in places you wouldn’t expect, which leads to …
You know how the first time you hear a funny joke, you can’t stop laughing? Then it gets repeated over and over, and it isn’t humorous to you anymore? It’s the same with stock images. The more your audience has seen a photo you used on your presentation design, any hope of impact you intended is gone.
It’s because they’re already familiar with—if not outright expecting—it. That they have seen the exact photo, if not the same actions, connotations, and justifications elsewhere, should always be a consideration. This is especially true when even in your search, there were dozens of images like the one you chose. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” goes the adage.
What’s an alternative then? If you must use stock images, then be unpredictable. If you’re looking for a picture of a business meeting, then don’t choose common ones, like room full of executives. Try a coffee shop meeting or a team building to show something new and fresh. If you can’t find one, then why not shoot your own or even choose one from your albums? How about that for a new take on the term “stock photography”?
Presentation design revolves around a theme, often the brand or topic. When you’re designing images, you keep said motif in mind, wanting to adhere to it and keep the whole deck consistent.
There isn’t much wiggle room for this, however, when your pool is piled with stock images. You have no control over the art direction of the image you have chosen since it’s just there, and how you use it becomes the question. This may present problems, but of course, if you’re really persistent, you can find one you can settle on. But even then, it still feels out of place.
There’s also what may be construed as “forced imagery,” wherein a picture barely symbolizes or depicts the topic at hand but is instead accompanied by lengthy justifications at how it’s really illustrating the point. Not only does this need a contrived explanation, but it also denotes poor planning on your part.
Stock images are readily available, but just because you can download them doesn’t mean you should. It’s not like there aren’t better alternatives out there; it’s merely the easiest way out. And if you think that won’t cost you anything, think again.
As a legal matter, there are many loopholes and gray areas on creative commons and copyrights. When it’s that open-ended and indefinite, you can bet that there are people who can and will make some money out of it by suing you or others for using their photos for unintended reasons, like commercial purposes.
Would you rather risk that possibility or take delight in the pleasure and satisfaction that your image is your own? You help not only yourself by minimizing complications from external parties but also your presentation design by being specific with your choice. That can make the biggest impact of all.
Boag, Paul. “Stop Using Stock Photography Clichés.” Boag World. January 4, 2010. www.boagworld.com/design/stock-photography
Field, Dennis. “8 Tips on Choosing the Right Photos for Your Design.” InvisionApp.com. March 11, 2015. www.invisionapp.com/blog/8-tips-on-choosing-the-right-photos-for-your-design
Reynolds, Garr. “What Makes an Image Good for Presentations – Part I.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/graphics/what-makes-an-image-good-for-presentations-part-i
Reynolds, Garr. “What Makes an Image Good for Presentations – Part II.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/graphics/what-makes-an-image-good-for-presentations-part-ii
Struck, Amos. “What Are Stock Images? One of the Best Image Resources Explained.” Stock Photo Secrets. n.d. www.stockphotosecrets.com/questions-answers/what-are-stock-images.html
Suggett, Paul. “The Case for and Against Stock Photography.” The Balance. October 12, 2016. www.thebalance.com/the-case-for-and-against-stock-photography-38444
Walker, Tommy. “Stock Photography vs. Real Photos: Can’t We Use Both?” ConversionXL. n.d. www.conversionxl.com/stock-photography-vs-real-photos-cant-use
The truth may be more prevalent than you would like to admit, but it’s unhealthy to ignore the fact that there are good presentations, and there are also bad ones. If you could give an estimate, how many from the total number of existing presentations are poorly made? Around 50 percent? That’s a big number. Assume for a second that, around the world, there are over a billion PowerPoint files today. That’s 500 million at the very least.
With all the design and content tips littered all over the Internet about making the best pitch deck, you’d think that by now, everyone can create decent slides. But let’s not get too idealistic. PowerPoint is tricky to master, especially when you consider how people have different reactions to presentations in general.
Should you cater to their wants then? “Yes” would be a short answer, but it has serious implications for your succeeding attempts at presentation. For example, when you’re creating a pitch deck. You can’t make a one-fits-all since it’s practically impossible to create slides according to the preferences of every executive you’re looking to impress. It’ll be a mishmash of different styles, and that can be distracting.
Does it mean that this is a hopeless case? Of course not. The best you could do is minimize the negative effects of a bad pitch deck presentation, like death by PowerPoint. Other suggestions are doing your best to create the most visually appealing deck people will ever see or hiring a good team of presentation specialists to make awesome slides—as long as you avoid using poorly designed presentations. Why? Because you stand to lose more than just cash by crafting pitch decks or sales presentations sloppily. The infographic below will help you see that you shouldn’t be worried with just your profit margins because you put at risk something bigger than money.
Every industry has its own set of jargons—even design. While having a so-called “eye for design” can help you go a long way, it’s not enough to cut the mustard. There are still some basic principles to follow and adhere to in order to achieve a certain credibility in the field. Before you can become a master of design, there are fundamental principles that you need to learn first. Design is as much a skill as a raw talent, after all.
You may be a natural artist who simply has a knack for creativity, but sometimes, that’s not enough, especially if the industry you’re trying to permeate is graphic design. There are conventions in this industry that you need to study in order to create useful and valuable artworks. Don’t get this wrong—you can certainly start random projects and find an audience for it afterwards. But if you want to become a prominent figure in the competitive design market, you need to study the game first to be one of the best.
The Importance of Design Elements
Art cannot exist without the pieces that comprise it, whether they be simple or otherwise. What lend a work of art an identity are the different elements that bring it to life. Those same elements set a convention through which a design enthusiast can appreciate or judge the beauty of an art form.
Another reason why the different elements of design are important is that they form a system around which the language of design revolve. Without these, art appreciation cannot be possible. To illustrate, imagine being asked to assess a work of art. If you don’t understand how design elements work, you’d be limited to making vague observations. However, if you’re well-spoken in this department, you’ll be able to express exactly which aspects of the design works or not.
The elements of design are important in so many levels. That’s why every designer and design enthusiast should strive to master them.
Copperman, Amy. “8 Basic Principles of Design to Help You Create Awesome Graphics.” Adobe Spark. July 27, 2016. spark.adobe.com/blog/2016/07/27/8-basic-design-principles-to-help-you-create-better-graphics
Hortin, Anthony. “The 5 Basic Principles of Design.” Maddison Designs. March 27, 2009. maddisondesigns.com/2009/03/the-5-basic-principles-of-design
Taheri, Maryam. “10 Basic Elements of Design.” Creative Market. May 27, 2016. creativemarket.com/blog/10-basic-elements-of-design
Wong, Yoon Sann. “Graphic Designers: Cheat Sheets That Simplify Design Elements, Print Terms, More.” Design Taxi. September 2, 2016. designtaxi.com/news/388239/Graphic-Designers-Cheat-Sheets-That-Simplify-Design-Elements-Print-Terms-More
Public speaking is not an innate talent that people are born with. It’s a skill that takes patience and constant practice to master. Many would agree that TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), an organization dedicated to spreading powerful ideas, is a pacesetter in producing the best presentations in the world. TED talks have been translated to more than a hundred languages, and TED events have been held in over 145 countries. Undoubtedly, the organization sets the bar higher in organized presentations.
This massive success begs the question: What does TED do differently that it manages to blow people’s minds over and over again? The answer lies in the speakers and the ideas they spread. TED speakers come onstage armed not only with powerful concepts and inspiring words but also with effective methods to get their message across. Here are eight lessons you can learn from the most successful TED talks ever held.
1. Hook the audience with one big idea
Everything, no matter how great, starts with a tiny spark of idea. Even the most elaborate TED talks begin with a simple concept that holds promise. As Jeremy Donovan, a TEdx organizer, said, “If you had to say there was one magical element to the best TED talks, it’s that those speakers picked one really, really big idea.” When giving a presentation, you don’t want to bombard your audience with a flurry of information. Choose one specific and interesting topic, then work around it. Attack it from a unique angle and give your audience something to think about.
2. Start with an interesting opener
Don’t go onstage thinking that it’s the audience’s job to listen. You must earn the audience’s attention every time you take the limelight. The best TED speakers know this so they make their talks interesting from the moment they drop the first word.
Begin with an anecdote. Brene Brown opened her talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” with a story that was relevant to her point. This helped the audience understand Brown and her message.
State an incredible fact. Dan Gilbert is no stranger to the TED stage. One of the reasons why he captivates the audience every time he speaks is that he begins with an interesting statistic that turns heads.
Pause for ten seconds. Seth Godin advises public speakers to pause not for two, three or five seconds but for ten whole seconds to get everyone’s attention. And Godin should know since he’s one of America’s most respected marketing gurus.
3. Share a story that resonates with the audience
Everybody loves stories, especially those that appeal to the emotions. When you tell a story, make sure to not only relay the events but also the emotions you experienced. When you share genuine feelings, you establish a connection with the audience. This is exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert did in her inspiring TED talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius.”
4. Establish rapport using humor
To establish a connection with the audience, the speaker should lower his defenses and let the audience into his personal bubble. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use humor. In the most viewed TED talk of all time, “Do Schools Kill Creativity,” Sir Ken Robinson used self-deprecating humor to make the audience feel more comfortable around him. You can apply the same principle to endear yourself to the audience and make them want to listen to your message.
5. Design your slides with care
Good speakers use pictures instead of texts to reinforce their message. Just look at Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk entitled, “How to Make Stress Your Friend.” Observe how she effectively used images to strengthen her claims. If you plan to accompany your talk with a PowerPoint presentation, make sure to do away with large chunks of text and instead focus on the audience’s visual experience. Remember, you’re already overwhelming your audience with words by simply talking; don’t tire them out by forcing them to read your slides.
6. Reinforce your point throughout the talk
Contrary to popular opinion, you should consistently repeat yourself throughout the presentation. If you establish your point over and over, your audience will eventually catch on to what you’re trying to say. This is what Richard St. John did in his short TED talk about success. He gave away the eight secrets to success while staying true to one core message: Success doesn’t come easy. You need to have the passion, the courage and the resilience to pursue it.
7. Leave your audience a gift before you go
The audience always sit in anticipation of something new to bring home. They lend their ears because they expect to be entertained or blown away by a novel idea or a fresh perspective they’ve never thought of before. Remember, although the presentation is your moment, it’s not entirely about you. You stand onstage not to bask under the spotlight but to share something that is worth your audience’s time.
The words of Robert Ballard, the explorer who discovered Titanic, are very fitting in this case. He said, “Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.” Take for example Susan Cain’s “The Power of Introverts.” Cain dared to look at introversion from a different light, and the response she got was positively overwhelming.
8. Waste no one’s time
It’s common courtesy among public speakers to end their talk before the time limit. TED talks run for an average of eighteen minutes, which TED curator Chris Anderson finds “long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.” So if you’re given thirty minutes, prepare for a presentation that runs for twenty-five minutes or less. You can allot the extra time for unforeseen events or unsolicited questions from the audience.
Public speaking is not easy, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be a few steps closer to delivering an electrifying TED-like presentation that you’ll cherish for life.
Gallo, Carmine. “9 Public Speaking Lessons from the World’s Greatest TED Talks.” Forbes. March 4, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/03/04/9-public-speaking-lessons-from-the-worlds-greatest-ted-talks/#3e8ca62212ea
Haden, Jeff. “20 Public Speaking Tips of the Best TED Talks.” Inc. www.inc.com/ss/jeff-haden/20-public-speaking-tips-best-ted-talks
James, Geoffrey. “11 Public Speaking Tips from the Best TED Talks Speakers.” Inc. July 26, 2016. www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/11-public-speaking-tips-from-the-best-ted-talks-speakers.html
May, Kate Torgovnick & Ludolph, Emily. “A TED Speaker Coach Shares 11 Tips for Right Before You Go Onstage.” TED Blog. February 14, 2016. blog.ted.com/a-ted-speaker-coach-shares-11-tips-for-right-before-you-go-on-stage
Stillman, Jessica. “5 Secrets of Public Speaking from the Best TED Presenters.” Inc. November 8, 2013. www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/ted-speakers-on-presenting-public-speaking.html
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Someone once said, “The human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment you are born, and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” Indeed, public speaking is so emotionally taxing that many people make all kinds of excuses to dodge it. Some say they don’t have the expertise yet while others say they’re not emotionally ready. To many, these excuses are a sign of weakness and an inability to deliver.
However, most people don’t realize that this is a natural response. In fact, it is expected, and in some cases, desired and encouraged. The can’t-do attitude towards public speaking is not always negative. If any, it’s a good asset waiting to be unraveled. You can channel the energy you use to dwell into your hesitation and self-doubt into something more positive. You can turn your can’t-do mindset into a presentation asset.
Focus on yourself, not on others.
This doesn’t mean you have to disregard your audience’s needs and preferences. It only means you shouldn’t worry too much about what others think of you. It’s okay to fret a little if you’re new to public speaking, but you have to remember that you don’t need to perfect it the first time. No matter how well you prepare and deliver your speech, there will always be room for improvement.
Look past the temptation to look smart. Instead of worrying about things that are out of your control, why not focus on honing your skills? Be open for growth, and embrace any challenge that might come your way. A lot of things can go wrong in a presentation, and sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to stop them. However, your attitude towards the situation will determine how it affects you.
Doubt yourself, but only for a minute.
There are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. A fixed mindset encompasses static givens such as character, intelligence, and creative ability. These aspects can’t be changed in any meaningful way. A person with a dominant fixed mindset typically strives for success and avoids failure. A person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, sees failure not as a drawback but as a springboard for improvement. Both types of mindsets can have a profound impact in your life.
For you to overcome stage fright, you need to let your growth mindset take over. Think of your speaking engagement as an opportunity to expand your knowledge and enhance your experience.
Find a motivation, not a reason to quit.
What’s good about having a growth mindset is that you can cultivate a passion for learning instead of a hunger for approval. People with this kind of outlook view things from a different light. To a conventional person, for example, the words, “not yet,” ring with a negative connotation, like being stuck in a certain state. However, to a progressive mind, “not yet” suggests something to look forward to in the future.
If you think you’re not yet ready to give a talk, strive harder to become better at public speaking until you are fully prepared to take the stage. Looking at things in a better light will free you from presentation anxiety and make you more confident.
Don’t let a can’t-do mindset stop you from reaching your full potential. Develop a can-do attitude that will let you find and conquer greater possibilities.
Britton, Kathryn. “I Can’t Do It Yet.” Positive Psychology. June 18, 2014. positivepsychologynews.com/news/kathryn-britton/2014061829119
North, Marjorie Lee. “10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills.” Harvard Extension. n.d. www.extension.harvard.edu/professional-development/blog/10-tips-improving-your-public-speaking-skills
Peck, Sarah. “Why a Growth Mindset is Essential for Learning.” One Month. May 12, 2015. learn.onemonth.com/why-a-growth-mindset-is-essential-for-learning Popova, Maria. “Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets that Shape Our Lives.” Brain Pickings. n.d. www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset
Roll, Oliver. “6 Steps to Overcoming Stage Fright and Giving a Presentation Everybody Listens to.” Entrepreneur. October 21, 2014. www.entrepreneur.com/article/238442
Giving a presentation doesn’t always come naturally, especially when standing in front of a crowd isn’t your forte. It’s a skill that takes time to learn and perform just like singing or acting.
As much as you practice, though, one thing can derail you: stage fright. It’s a whole different experience when you’re rehearsing in a confined and controlled environment compared to when standing in front of a crowd.
Fear is inevitable. It is the usual initial feeling people have when they’re aware that something bad can happen. However, most find themselves harboring and being crippled by that possibility for a long time. Ever heard of Murphy’s Law?
You don’t have to experience the same fate. As long as you know how to avoid or fight it—and improve despite of and because of it—you won’t ever have to deal with bothersome stage frights.
Finding a Cure to Presentation Anxiety
Fighting off anxiety can be challenging. You never know when it will come and attack you. When it affects you, you feel weak, not knowing when it will go away. But fear isn’t a physical barrier. In fact, it‘s all in your head. You created it, and you can eliminate it.
Anxiety occurs when you anticipate a bad event. It’s normal to feel anxious when you’re in a stressful situation. And it grows when you keep believing it’s true. The only way to destroy it is by understanding that it’s all in your mind and becoming proactive on it.
Ask yourself the following questions: “What am I being anxious about?” “Where did it come from?” “Is now the time to think about it?” “Will it help me deliver my presentation?” Rationalizing points out the weight of your problem and its urgency. Breaking down your worries and your responsibilities helps you decide how to move along on your work. Instead of entertaining that fear, rehearse your pitch in your head. Your anxiety will be addressed by focusing on the task at hand. Stay on track and don’t let your mind wander off. Mentally pushing the nuisance to the far end of the room will make it leave.
Preventing Stage Fright Successfully
There are many reasons why presenters experience anxiety before and during a presentation. Apart from anticipating a faulty performance, procrastination, laziness, and carelessness are the other elements that trigger it. . Sometimes, the reason why you anticipate mistakes is because you know they are consequences of something you did wrong in the past. Maybe there’s a gap in your presentation that you deliberately neglected or maybe you can’t help but think about the practices you should have not missed. These simple yet reoccurring things can make you feel anxious on your big presentation day.
Crafting a great presentation takes much research and preparation. Being able to come up with great research takes a lot of effort and time. And on top of all that hard work, it also takes a lot of practice to make sure you feel ready to present your deck.
When you care to invest that much to prepare your pitch, consequences that make you anxious won’t get in the way. Instead, you gain confidence and feel empowered enough to present your pitch with your head held high.
Prepare, Present, and Prosper.
There’s no way of telling what’s going to happen next. Why waste time being fearful of outcomes you’re not even sure will happen? If you place fear in the present, you’ll see that it has no business being there. Your presentation should be the only thing on your mind when you walk onstage. The dialogue between you and your audience is your priority. Focus so that nothing can change the way you planned to deliver your pitch.
Remember that prevention is better than cure. Make time to prepare your deck and rehearse your performance. Learn how to present your deck better than the last time. Nobody becomes a public speaking expert overnight. Plan your slides carefully and practice your lines.
Lastly, don’t fear judgement or fill your mind with worry. You have the power to stop self-sabotaging thoughts.
Bellamy, Wallace J. “Fear… It’s All in Your Head.” DrBellamyDMD.com. July 12, 2016. www.drbellamydmd.com/patient-education/fear-its-all-in-your-head
Esposito, Janet. “Conquering Stage Fright.” Anxiety and Depression Society of America. n.d. www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder/treatment/conquering-stage-fright
Maina, Antony. “16 Ways to Overcome Stage Fright When Speaking in Public.” Small Business Trends. October 6, 2015. www.smallbiztrends.com/2015/10/overcome-stage-fright-speaking-in-public.html
Purtill, Corinne. “Murphy’s Law Is Totally Misunderstood and Is in Fact a Call to Excellence.” Quartz. May 16, 2017. www.qz.com/984181/murphys-law-is-totally-misunderstood-and-is-in-fact-a-call-to-excellence
Reynolds, Garr. “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery,” 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. 2012.
“Managing Presentation Nerves: Coping with the Fear Within.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/PresentationNerves.htm