Most of us have at some point enjoyed tapping into some of the richest sources of stimulus on this planet; TED. Born over 30 years ago, TED is a not-for-profit global phenomenon with an average of 17 new page views a second and in Autumn 2012 saw it's one billionth video view. TED's impact is massive; it inspires, excites and opens peoples mind to new possibilities. Mine included.
Recently, I was asked to deliver one myself as a contributor to TedX Utrecht, and was chuffed to bits. What I didn't realise was that TED was going to teach me some more lessons.
Doing an 18 minute TED talk really focused my attention and as a result I have come away with some clearer insight on how to make them work; some of which I got right and some of which I am determined to get right next time.
1. Be laser-like on your message. You don't have long, there is no room for vagueness. Know the point you are making and practice numerous language patterns to nail it precisely each time.
2. Be tight and loose. I usually would resist rehearsing a speech but with TED I think it really pays off. Run it to time and make sure that you have a couple of minutes to spare. Those two minutes allow you to then improvise in the moment and stretch off as you warm in to the material and the audience. If you are absolutely practised to 18 minutes, there is no room to move and therefore you are stuck with a static script and don't get the chance to play.
3. Two to three stories and a punchline. It's all you have time for.
4. Practice the connections as all good stories need to be joined up and it's the joins that can become fluffy unless you think them through.
5. Enjoy the other speakers. They are fantastic, well worth listening to and then hanging out with. You will learn things from them. The more interested you are in the other talks, the less you will rewrite your session as the day unfolds. My spot was last in the day so for me, this tip was imperative.
6. Warmly embrace help. TED offer you an experienced speech coach to help you hone your talk. Be clear on what you want to do but listen generously to their advice as those nuggets could be invaluable. Since being coached for TED I am now getting coaching for all my gigs.
7. Backstage giggles. The folk organising this do an amazing job. There's lots of pressure to get it right and most of them are volunteers. Have fun with them. It will help you relax and deliver your best performance. The type of people that are attracted to running these things are the type of people that can enrich your life so don't let the nerves getting your way of having a party.
8. Hair and make up. Essential.
9. Start and finish crisp. It's what folk remember
10. Enjoy! This is your show and you have a story to tell. Tell it your way with heart and soul and the world will be richer for it. Don't worry about what people will think, just concern yourself with being you and the rest will flow beautifully.