3 tips for TED speakers (and other talkers)

TEDHere is a brief article by Daniel Pink for LinkedIn PULSE: The news and insights you need to know in which he offers some observations about TED an then some advice to those who aspire to present a TED program. Briefly, TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference and TEDGlobal — TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize, won this year for the second year in a row by HBS’s Clayton Christensen.

To learn more about TED, please click here.

To read more PULSE articles, please click here.

Photo credit: Robert Leslie/TED Conference, used under a Creative Commons license.

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Okay, so yeah. TED is amazing. It’s a culture-shaping, era-defining, not entirely uncontroversial extravapalooza that has earned the mind share, eyeballs, and admiration of tens of millions of global citizens. I had a chance to do a TED Talk a few years ago. And a short time after that, my pal Bruno Giussani, one of TED’s impresarios, asked me to write up some advice for future speakers.

In honor of this year’s TED conference, I’m reprising that guidance for LinkedIn readers — and anyone else trying to move others by standing and delivering.

Here are my three key tips.

1. Prepare . . . but not too much.

These days, very few TED speakers arrive unprepared and just try to wing their presentations. That’s great. Preparing is a sign of respect for your audience — and the only way to wrangle your ideas inside an 18- or 9-minute fence. But lately I’ve seen a handful of people who were too prepared and too rehearsed. Their presentations were so heavily shellacked that they seemed inauthentic; their ideas suffocated under all that varnish. Remember: Human beings, despite their imperfections (and sometimes because of their imperfections), are far more persuasive than expertly-tuned presentation robots.

2. Say something important.

There’s a big difference between saying some important things and saying something important. Your goal isn’t to demonstrate how much you know or to catalog your many insights, but to leave the audience with one idea to ponder — or better, one step to take. When people hear some important things, their heads nod. When they hear something important, their souls stir, their brains engage, and their bodies prepare to act.

3. Say it like yourself.

Don’t mimic someone else’s style or conform to what you think is a particular “TED way” of presenting. That’s boring, banal, and backward. Don’t try to be the next Ken Robinson or the next Jill Bolte Taylor. Be the first you.

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Daniel Pink is the author, most recently, of the #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal business bestseller, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. To check out the resources at Dan’s website, please click here.

Read more TED2013 coverage from Influencers:

Nilofer Merchant: Secrets of a TED2013 Speaker link

Don Peppers: How to Get the Most From a Conference link

Geni Whitehouse: The TED Talk That Changed My Company link

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