TED TALKS: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson
Part 1: Foundation
Speaking successfully and authentically could start for many of us as early as our school years if our schools would just resurrect “rhetoric”- the art of speaking effectively. Schools should make speaking effectively the 4th R. Many would agree that today presentation literacy has the potential to make the biggest impact. It could do the most good going forward for our youth and our society, especially in this new multi-media digitally connected streaming world.
A talk can open doors and transform a career. And yes it’s scary! But, fear can be a good thing in that it will help us have the energy and will to prepare. It can be done! Everywhere we look, we can see people who have overcome their fear of public speaking from Eleanor Roosevelt to Warren Buffet to Princess Diana. If we can talk to a group of friends over dinner, then we can speak publicly and even go as far as to give a TED Talk.
The central thesis of Chris Anderson’s book, “TED TALKS: The Official Guide to Public Speaking” is that anyone with an idea worth sharing is capable of giving a powerful talk. Confidence doesn’t matter. Stage presence doesn’t matter. Neither does being a smooth talker. The only thing that truly matters is having something worth saying. The good thing is that we all have far more worth sharing than we’re presently aware of. We all have a blind spot and can’t easily see what’s unique and special about ourselves. Asking those who know us best will help us uncover the shining star that we all have hidden somewhere deep within us.
Now, if we think we might have something special worth sharing, but are afraid that we don’t know enough about it yet, don’t sweat it. Anderson has a solution. And it’s a simple one. Let’s just put ourselves on a mission to find out more about what we have that might be worth sharing. And if we find ourselves dragging our feet on it, then let’s just simply sign up to give a speech on it. The fear that will immediately follow will be enough to get us moving, get us learning, and get us growing again.
Focusing on what we want to give our audience and starting where they are at is a great foundation for building our speech. However, when building our speech we need to be careful that we are giving and not taking. NO SALES PITCHES! No rambling either. The audience’s time is valuable. Let’s not disrespect them by not thoroughly preparing our speech and then wasting their time through our own rambling. Also, let’s not talk just about our organization; no matter how interesting we may find it. I guarantee you that others won’t find our job or place of employment as interesting as we do. They can’t love it like we do because they don’t work there and aren’t familiar with it like we are.
Since the point of our talks are to say something meaningful, Anderson shares that it helps if our speeches have a throughline that ties together each narrative. Think of a throughline as a strong rope that we attach each element to that are parts of our ideas we’re building in others’ heads. We want to make the audience’ take-away obvious. And we make it obvious by knowing our audience and not trying to jam too much stuff in too short of a time. Cover less and the impact will be more. Anderson encourages us to plan our 18 minute TED Talk and then cut it in half. And then cut it in half again. Hmm…
Once we have a throughline in 15 words or less, then it’s time to plan what we’ll attach to it. Some of the tools that speakers use to build ideas are connection, narration, explanation, persuasion, and revelation. Most speakers use one of these idea-building tools or a mix of them. We’ll explain them more in the next section.
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.