In 2006, Sir Ken Robinson made a lasting impact not only on the TED Talks series but also on the education sector and, frankly, on how to give a presentation, period. His brilliant talk is proof that 56,036,246 people can't be wrong. He is entertaining and funny, and he makes several valid points about how to educate kids properly. If you haven't watched it, be sure to check out the talk, because it seems to resonate long after it ends.
In revisiting the talk recently, it became obvious to me that his delivery style, demeanor, inside jokes, and salient points serve as a shining example to all of us.
Here are the big takeaways for anyone trying to work a room.
1. Don't take yourself too seriously.
There's no question that Robinson's talk is the most-watched ever because it's hilarious. You don't expect him to drop so many zingers and to be so self-deprecating. I love his joke about his son turning 4 in England--and everywhere else. It works because it's so relevant to any listener. We all know how kids feel about their birthdays. What works about his talk is that the main points he makes seem like footnotes at first--that learning can be fun. You don't even realize he is making a point until you think about it later.
2. Give your examples first before you explain your points.
I'm convinced the best speakers are also writers. They start with interesting examples and stories instead of pummeling you with the overall concept or a summary. If you read Inc. or really any magazine or online article, you know the best way to capture attention is to start with a story--it's a hook that goes deep. When listening to this TED Talk, keep track of how many times the speaker tells a story as an example, and how long he takes to even relay his main topic. It seems incidental and arbitrary, but of course it's far from that.
3. Leave people in stunned silence.
I like how Robinson makes his biggest points right at the end when the audience is most likely to remember what he says. By starting with a story and jokes, and ending with your major points, you accomplish two main objectives. First, you gain the trust and interest of the audience. They will stick with you to the end. Second, you build rapport. It's hard to overvalue how important it is to build some understanding with the audience about who you are, what you have to say, and whether you have a right to say it. Robinson proves he is a good communicator, and then he communicates. It just works.