Chris Anderson on “Four Style Traps to Avoid”

Anderson, ChrisIn TED Talks, Chris Anderson observes: “Your number-one mission as a speaker is to take something that matters deeply to you and rebuild it inside the minds of your listeners …There are countless ways to build a great talk. But first some essential safety tips. There are ugly styles out there, dangerous to both a speaker’s reputation and an audience’s well-being. Here are four to steer clear out at all costs.”

THE SALES PITCH: “Sometimes speakers get it exactly backwards. They plan to take, not give…The key principle is to remember that the speaker’s job is to give to the audience, not take from them.” Don’t rant about a need and then offer materials for sale, claiming that they will fill that need.

THE RAMBLE: Never provide just “an unfocused list of observations about possible futures. Nothing obnoxious. Nothing that is particularly hard to understand. But also no arguments of power. No revelations. No aha moments. No takeaways.” You insult an audience when merely recycling stale material that is, worse yet, disconnected and without significance.

THE ORG BORE: “An organization is fascinating to those who work for it…and deeply boring to almost everyone else…Everyone changes, though, when you focus on the nature of the work that you’re doing, and the power of the ideas that infuse it, not on the org itself or its products.” Almost every member of almost every audience has two questions in mind: “So what?” and “Why should I care?” Speakers who ignore those two questions are not only boring, they’re clueless.

THE INSPIRATION PERFORMANCE: “It has to be earned…People inspire you because they actually have a dream that’s worth getting excited about. And those dreams don’t come lightly. They come from blood, sweat, and tears.” Bellowing at an audience is irritating noise, not evidence of conviction.

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