In the June 2013 issue of HBR, TED curator Chris Anderson shared an outstanding set of public speaking tips in his article entitled: How to Give a Killer Presentation. Though I strongly encourage you to read the entire article to pick up the colorful narrative commentary, here are the tips he provided in paraphrased, condensed, and actionable form:
- Start with a novel idea worth spreading that is deeply insightful yet narrow in scope.
- Frame your talk as a journey of discovery or a detective story. Start by stating a problem your audience knows or should reasonably know and then build to your unique solution.
- Make sure your audience can quickly grasp what your talk is about.
- Don’t over-explain; instead let your audience reach their own epiphany.
- Share stories about people not organizations.
- Sell your ideas from the stage, not yourself, your books, or your business.
- Strive to deliver your talk without notes or a teleprompter. It typically takes dozens of rehearsals in front of a live audience to internalize a talk. Internalization is the stage you will reach beyond memorization with enough practice.
- Use bullet points on note cards if you struggle with memorization.
- Speak in your natural conversational tone of voice (and not like a dramatic orator).
- Use simple language rather than jargon.
- Keep your lower body motionless and move to new locations if that comes naturally. However, do not sway from side to side or shift your weight from leg to leg.
- Make eye contact with 5 or 6 people randomly distributed throughout the audience.
- Keep your multimedia simple, or better yet, use none at all
- Design slides for your audience (not for your use as notes). This means favoring vivid images over text bullet points.
- Build silence into your talk if you have stunning imagery depicting your work.
- Keep video clips to less than 60 seconds.
- Avoid including soundtracks in video clips.
- Start the cycle of devising, revising, and rehearsing six to nine months before you deliver your TED Talk.
- Embrace your nervousness as natural and healthy. It gives you energy and makes you more authentically engaging to your audience.
- Calm your nervous by listening to the speakers before you, assuming powerful body language (see Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk), and breathing deeply.
- Seek feedback only from highly experienced presenters.