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December 6, 2017 | By

Want to Be a More Compelling Presenter? Watch These TED Talks

As you prepare to present your next webinar, you probably want to figure out how to channel your inner Steve Jobs. Or you think about that one professor in college that kept the entire class riveted.

What did they have in common?

What made them such great presenters?

How can you bottle that magic and unleash it for your next webinar?

To help you step up your public speaking game, I recommend watching the following TED Talks. For one, they cover relevant topics like how to be persuasive and how to get over stage fright. For two, these presenters are great public speakers and watching them is sure to inspire you.

Here are six of our favorite TED Talks about how to be a great presenter:

1. Julian Treasure: How to speak so people want to listen

Do you hate the sound of your voice on video or audio recordings? I sure do! If you want to make your voice a little easier to listen to (even if it’s just for yourself), this TED Talk from Julian Treasure is a great resource. Plus, some research shows that the tone of your voice actually affects the success of your career.

During the first half, he mostly talks about speech in general. But in the second half, he gets into the mechanics of speaking and how to alter your voice. He tells you how to increase the power of your speaking voice by enhancing things like register, timbre, inflection, and more. Then he actually gives you a few fun vocal warm-ups to do before a presentation or even a conversation with someone important. This talk is like having a mini session with a vocal coach.

2. Joe Kowan: How I Beat Stage Fright

Listening to Joe talk about his struggle with stage fright as a folksinger is so painfully relatable, especially as you watch him deal with his stage fright during his TED presentation. If you’re prone to stage fright, have you considered how you’re going to deal with the jitters when it’s time for the live event?

For Joe, he dealt with his stage fright by making it part of his performance. Instead of his shaky voice distracting his audience, he made his stage-fright symptoms the focus of one of his songs. By confronting it, his stage fright became less of a problem. For those of you who struggle with stage fright, you may want to think about how you’re going to confront your stage fright when it’s time to press “Broadcast,” and you should also probably listen to Joe’s awesome song about stage fright.

3. Melissa Marshall: Talk Nerdy to Me

When you work in a complex industry or sell a complicated product, sometimes you can get so caught up in your work that you forget how to explain your area of expertise to the general public. In a webinar setting, it’s important to communicate with your audience in a way that helps them understand the topic without making them feel like you’re talking down to them.

For those of you who aren’t sure how to do this, Melissa Marshall gives some great tips on how to make “nerdy” topics more engaging. She specifically talks to science and engineering professionals, but her tips can be related to any profession that uses a lot of jargon, acronyms, or anything else that alienates the layman. When determining how to word certain phrases in your presentation or explain difficult concepts, remember this quote from Einstein, “Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler.” In other words, you don’t have to dumb it down; you may just have to communicate in a different way.

4. Nancy Duarte: The Secret Structure of Great Talks

Every great speech—think Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Steve Job’s iPhone launch, or The Gettysburg Address—has the same structure. Each narrative follows the same shape, which helps their message resonate with listeners and keeps their audience engaged.

This same shape can be applied to a great presentation. As you create the outline for your presentation, refer to Nancy’s TED talk. She does a great job of showing how you can incorporate this shape into your presentation and become a more engaging speaker. Check out Nancy’s talk to see the perfect presentation shape and understand why it works.

5. David McCandless: The Beauty of Data Visualization

Every great presentation needs good visuals. And if you have a complex data set to share with your audience, your visuals need to eliminate complexity and display information in a simple, beautiful way. Data is powerful, but if it’s too confusing, you’ll lose your audience. They want to see clear visualizations that make your data sets relatable.

David McCandless says that “good design is the best way to navigate information glut.” You can use simple diagrams to illustrate patterns and connections that matter to your attendees and satisfy their need for interesting information. Watch David take seemingly complex data sets and make them into simple visuals that keep his audience interested.

6. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

The purpose of a webinar is to persuade your attendees to do something. You may want them to make a purchase, share your brand on social media, change a certain behavior, etc. Regardless of what you want your audience to do, you need to inspire them to take action.

Simon Sinek suggests that all great and inspiring leaders and organizations all think, act, and communicate in the same way. Interestingly, it’s the complete opposite of how most people think, act, and communicate. Simon says the best companies (those who inspire action) communicate from the inside out—they start with the “why.” Watch Simon’s talk to see what he means by communicating from the inside out.

Chances are, all the great presenters you’ve seen practice techniques discussed in each of these talks. They know how to structure a presentation, explain their ideas clearly, and inspire others to take action. Oh, and they probably figured out a good way to deal with their stage fright.


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