Speaking Like a Pro: Public Speaking Tips from Popular TED Speakers

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Let’s face it: Not everyone is born with the personality and ability to be a great public speaker.

For some, it is nerve-wracking to stand in front of an audience to deliver a speech or a message. The image in itself can bring some out in a cold sweat or activate their flight response.

Unfortunately, speaking in front of a crowd may be inevitable. You have to present your academic paper to a panel, or you’re required to make a speech at a friend’s wedding. No matter what the circumstance is, it’s important to keep calm and get your message across.

How do you learn to become a strong public speaker? Learn from TED Talks.

TED Talks Have Become a Standard

Since its conception in 1984, TED (short for technology, entertainment, and design) events have been held in many parts of the world. The organization has invited a variety of notable guest speakers, from sports legends to scientists, to discuss anything that relates to the current theme of the conference. They have opened opportunities for people to talk about anything they’re passionate about, as long as they’re “ideas worth spreading.”

TED talks have become the benchmark for public speaking and presentation skills. It’s natural to watch one of the organization’s 18-minute videos and become engaged in what the speaker is saying, whether it’s the importance of body language or the power of introverts. Some TED Talk speakers are certainly better than others, but the best speakers carry an aura that inspires you to sit back and listen to what they have to say.

Learning How to Talk Like TED Speakers

With TED Talks becoming great examples of public speaking in action, how can you learn from them? Here are valuable tips you can pick up from engaging TED Talk speakers:

Plan Your Content

The delivery of your speech is important, but your message won’t come across if the content is unengaging. Spend time planning the contents of your speech. Come up with stories so that you’re more likely to connect with your audience.

Whether you’re passionate about the topic or it’s a work or school requirement, do your research. Make sure you know what you’re talking about. When you’re speaking to an audience who are not experts about the topic, simplify your presentation so that it’s easy to understand.

Practice Your Delivery

Practice regularly and internalize your content so you can deliver your speech as comfortably as having a conversation with a close friend. Learn to speak clearly and project your voice to keep everyone engaged during your speech.

Appeal to Emotion

One characteristic the best TED Talk speakers have in common is their ability to communicate emotion, whether it’s anger, excitement or joy. Work on channeling the emotions relevant to your topic or the ones that suit your personality. For example, Sir Ken Robinson, whose speech about how school kills creativity is the most viewed TED Talk of all time, used self-deprecating humor to talk about his field.

Keep it Short and Simple

TED presentations can be no longer than 18 minutes. According to TED curator Chris Anderson, that’s long enough to hold people’s attention. When practicing and revising your speech, keep everything within that timeframe so you can get your point across effectively.

The thought of public speaking seems terrifying at first, but it’s possible to face your fear and deliver a compelling message to your audience. With the right combination of content and delivery, and lots of practice, you can prove that your ideas are worth spreading, just like the speakers in TED Talks. When delivered effectively, your speech might even persuade the audience to act on your ideas.

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