The presenters deliver their expertise in a way that's accessible to the audience. The TED Talk formula has it down to a science, demonstrating how to connect to both a live audience and an online one. Better still, you have an opportunity to dissect what catches hearts and minds.
I caution you, though. TED Talks are not all created equal. Some are fantastic and others aren't. No matter where they lie in the spectrum, all provide a terrific opportunity to learn.
One of the exercises I take my clients through is to critique a TED Talk. The feedback I receive, "I'll never look at a presentation the same way again".
Here's a few I have in my toolbox.
How to Spot a Liar: Pamela Meyer
How's that for a title? Bet it caught your eye, didn't it? I use this talk to not only demonstrate what an enticing title is - how Meyer hooks you in, but also how to start a presentation.
Meyer jumps right in. No boring preamble. You can feel the discomfort in the room as she challenges the audience's beliefs and then throws out what can be construed as an insult, calling us all liars.
Next, she tells us what she's going to tell us. This is an old technique I don't often recommend my clients use. If you've crafted your presentation with finesse, there's no need to prime your audience. However, she does it well. She's quick and summarizes in a few sentences and moves on fast.
As an expert in deception, Meyer then speaks to her credibility to let us know why she's qualified to be on the TED stage.
Her humor is charming while she pokes fun at herself and describes how she has become a social pariah. Meyer goes on to promise she'll teach us how to be a lie spotter.
From hooking us in, to insulting us, then summarizing what she has in store, to validating why we should listen to her, peppered with humor, and all within a space of two minutes. There's a challenge for your next presentation.
How Quantum Biology Might Explain Life's Biggest Questions: Jim Al-Khalili
A student persuaded me to watch this presentation. I've no interest in Quantum Physics and watched it begrudgingly. Al-Khalli does two things exquisitely and both are techniques every presenter should strive for.
Al-Khalli has passion that exudes from every pore in his body. The love for his craft is captivating. He also skillfully, in layman's terms, explains what his research is about.
Many engineers and scientists struggle with the 'curse of experts'. They forget their audience often doesn't have the depth of understanding that they do, and speak far above their heads.
Al-Khalli's passion and ability to speak to you in lay terms makes his TED Talk one that's a must watch if you want to keep your audience's interest throughout your entire presentation.
The Puzzle of Motivation: Dan Pink
At 17:21 Pink alerts us that he's about to wind up. It's another old school method: The Summary Technique. He then masterfully challenges you to go beyond the data and to think for yourself.
Pink tells us that you have the answer and that leaders need to stop using the carrot and stick method. They should lead, as they themselves like to do their work, through intrinsic motivation. Pink then boldly challenges you to be a difference maker because you have the power to change the world. A lofty challenge!
Each presenter is impressive while standing on the red circle. These presentations demonstrate how to get to the jugular at a presentation start, incite interest throughout while stripping away the jargon, and finishing with the ultimate call to action.
Use these techniques and you can't help but impress and captivate your audience.