Part 2 Talk Tools
Our first idea building tool is connection. According to Anderson, author of TED Talks, to make a connection as a speaker we have to go to where the audience is and win them over. We do this by not rushing into our speech, but by taking a moment to smile and make eye contact. It also helps to show a little vulnerability. It’s okay to be nervous. The audience will see our humanity and root for us to succeed. Our nervousness pushes their empathy buttons. Also, let’s try to make them laugh at least once. But no corny jokes. Laughing breaks the tension and makes everyone feel like they are on the same side. Laughter is a great tool for connecting and gets everyone to listen closer to us.
Narration is our second idea building tool. Narration is simply a good story. So, let’s tell a good story. Anthropologist and professor Wiessner shares that ancient campfire stories played a crucial role in helping expand people’s abilities to imagine, dream, and understand the minds of others. Basically, our minds co-evolved through storytelling over many, many campfires. We can’t help but like stories. It’s in our DNA. And every one of us gets something out of stories because every one of us has some level of understanding, regardless of where we are on the age spectrum, experience spectrum, or intelligence spectrum. There is something for everyone in a good story.
Telling our own stories is the simplest talk to give. But, beware. According to Anderson, there is a danger to taking this simpler road. The majority of talks that TED Talks turns down are talks people have about themselves because they lack a central idea that ties the narrative together. Remember the take-away has to be obvious for everyone in the crowd.
Overcoming the curse of knowledge may be one of the most important things we can do as speakers. Making the speech as simple as it can be, but no simpler is how the best speakers use the third tool of building ideas through explanations. For the explanation method to be effective it has to start where the audience is. Build curiosity. And it has to be delivered piece by piece with metaphors built in to show how it all fits together with clear and easy to follow examples.
The best explainers say just enough to let people feel like they’re coming up with the idea themselves. The best speakers bring in new concepts and describe them just enough so that the prepared minds of the audience can slide these concepts together into place for themselves. This strategy is time efficient for speakers doing the short 18 minute TED Talk, and it’s deeply satisfying for the audience members who like to feel clever.
One more thought on explanations. According to Anderson, sometimes it helps to clear the muddy water by beginning our talks with what it isn’t. By sharing what it isn’t with our audience we make it easier for them to close in on what we have in our mind of what it is.
Our fourth tool for speakers to build ideas in others’ heads is persuasion. Persuasion is the act of replacing someone’s world view with something a little better. This won’t be an easy thing to do, however. People cling to what they think they know because it’s the only way they know how to make sense of their world at the moment. No one wants to live in a senseless world turned upside down. To be effective in the art of persuasion, a speaker has to have the element of reason as a central building block of their persuasive speech. Reason is best accomplished through intuition pumps or a detective story approach. Adding some humor early on, adding an anecdote, offering vivid examples, using 3rd party validation, using powerful visuals and other plausible priming devices helps one persuade others to their vision of a better world.
The fifth talk tool of a speaker trying to build ideas is the revelation. The revelation is the most direct way of gifting an idea to an audience because it just simply shows something new to them. However, let’s not simply just walk our audience through bullets in a power-point presentation. That’s boring. Instead, let’s figure out a way that engages, intrigues and enlightens our audience. This route will bring some wonder and delight. Some of TED Talk speakers have achieved this wonder and delight through “Wonder Walks”. Others have done it through Dynamic Demos. Some have even done it through “Dreamscapes”. Ultimately, what we want to do as speakers is to paint a bold picture of the future. And we want to do this in a way that will make them desire that future!
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.