4 Public Speaking Tips That We Can Gain From TED Talks

One of the most common fears is the fear of public speaking. Many people are afraid of giving a speech or presentation in front of a crowd. It is unfortunate how many of us have difficulty showing our full potential and intelligence because we have difficulty speaking in front of groups. If this is a struggle you experience, you’ll want to follow these key pieces of advice gleaned from the best TED Talks. Here are a few pieces of public speaking advice from the people who know best:

1) Give the audience something to take home.

Dan Ariely, who gave a TED Talk on how we make decisions, shows us that one of the most important parts of a speech is to give the audience something to do almost immediately. Your message can be extremely inspiring, but if you don’t give the audience a way to apply what messages to their own lives, it won’t stick with them. Tell your audience something that you would like them to think about tonight and what you would like them to do. Whether they really do the exercise or not, this will help you make a greater impact on your audience.

2) Don’t be afraid to answer questions.

If someone asks a question during your presentation, you should seize the opportunity. This means someone is listening. If you’re planning to address the issue in a later slide, then skip ahead. A good presentation should feel like a conversation even if it is a one-sided one. If there is a sense of interaction, you should never ignore the opportunity to foster this. This technique can be seen in Malcolm Gladwell’s TED Talk on happiness.

3) Turn nervousness into excitement.

Simon Sinek is one of the most watched TED Talk speakers. You’d never guess that he’s shy and doesn’t like speaking to crowds, because he follows a set of rules to help him succeed. One of these rules is to turn his nervousness into excitement. Sinek gained this technique from watching the Olympics. Many reporters would ask the athletes if they had been nervous before competing. The athletes would always reply “No, I was excited”. Sinek took a page from these athletes’ book, reinterpreting all of the body’s signs of nervousness as indicators of exhilaration and excitement. When you’re up on stage, just tell yourself that you’re not nervous; you’re excited.

4) Ask a question you can’t answer.

While asking questions to engage the audience is a common practice, it can sometimes feel forced. If you want to captivate your audience in a genuine way, ask a question that you know the audience can’t answer. Then say “That’s okay. I can’t either.” Then go on to explain why you can’t answer the question, and speak about what you do know. Most speakers claim to have all the answers, and the fact that you admit that you don’t will make you stand out. This humanizes you and leads the audience to pay more attention to what you do know. This technique can be seen in Nigel Marsh’s TED Talk on work/life balance.

Public speaking is to some degree a skill that people are born with. But there are also a number of techniques that can help people improve at public speaking. Follow these tips and who knows, maybe you’ll be the one giving a TED Talk in a few years!