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Tips From TED: How To Give a Killer Presentation

9 Tips Inspired by TED Talks on How to Give a Killer Presentation (No Matter What the Setting)

TED talks have become famous around the world and often resonate for years after the speaker utters his or her speech. The talks are about 18 minutes long. That means in order to make a strong impact, you’ve got to choose your words wisely and purposefully.

Here at GenTwenty, we have some tips to give a presentation like a pro, all inspired by TED talks. These suggestions will come in handy whether your audience is a college classroom or the attendees of a business meeting.

1. Speak With Passion

It will be easier to connect with your audience if you pick a topic you know well and are enthusiastic about. The listeners will pick up on your energy and hopefully feel some of it stirring their own motivation. It can be hard to come up with a theme for your presentation, especially if you have no guidelines, or have only been given very loose ones. As a good rule of thumb, speak about something that makes you feel alive and full of vigor.

2. Be a Storyteller

Here at GenTwenty, we never overlook the power of a good story. Why is storytelling so important? It provides a human element to your talk and gives the impression you’re authentic. Furthermore, stories can be effective ways of breaking down complex principles so they are easier to relate to and digest.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Humor

Speaking at a TED event is a big deal, but some stellar speakers didn’t let the importance of the engagement dampen their humor. During your own presentation, you don’t have to tell a joke like a stand-up comedian would, but reiterating a humorous thing that happened last week can show authenticity. You can also take a lighthearted tone with an oft-discussed topic, as Carin Bondar did when giving the breakdown about the birds and the bees.

Much like throwing a good party, the event planners behind speaking conferences want to make the event fun and engaging, while attempting to implement positive change at the same time. Don’t be too serious in your presentation, or you’ll end up losing your audience.

4. Go With Good Graphics

People are more likely to remember the concepts you cover in your presentation if they are accompanied by high-quality, emotive pictures. Slides that are dotted with bullet points can make viewers think back to unpleasant high school lectures. On the other hand, gorgeous graphics awaken emotions and drive home key points.

5. Show Bravery by Opening Up

A TED talk, or any presentation, is all about expressing your ideas and getting others to embrace them. However, we at GenTwenty don’t think that means giving a perfectly polished speech and being especially careful about what you say. Being too stiff can make it hard to relate to others.

Instead, swallow your pride and will yourself to be as open and honest as possible, even if that means showing a little vulnerability. Panti, an LGBT rights advocate in Ireland, showed vulnerability with excellence as she described what it’s like living as a member of the LGBT community in her country and discussed how she feels envious over things straight people take for granted, such as showing affection to a partner in public.

Chances are, the audience at your presentation will be more able to get behind you if you make it clear you’re aware of how your life experience has shaped you.

 6. Keep It Short

 All TED talks must be no longer than 18 minutes, and you should try to keep your presentation within that timeframe, too. That’s an ideal length of time to get your message across without sacrificing attention spans.

Whether you’re rehearsing your presentation in front of friends or just making an outline of what you want to cover during your time in the spotlight, stay conscious of timing. There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed because you’ve planned to say too much and suddenly notice your audience becoming disengaged.

7. Change Perceptions

 If you’re able to challenge your audience to look at their world in a different way, that’s the ticket to gaining a lot of ground in your quest to deliver a moving and momentous presentation.

Look at ways you can turn common ideas upside down and break boundaries to forever change some perceptions others have. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal does that well in a TED talk by suggesting stress can be a positive thing, rather than a negative part of life.

8. Have a Concise Message

It’s essential that people are able to walk away from your presentation able to repeat your main theme. Perhaps they’ll be bringing it up later in a conversation with a friend, or just saying it to themselves for silent motivation. Whatever the case may be, if your message is muddied or rambling, it’s more likely to be forgotten soon after your presentation.

9. Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More

Some of the most memorable TED speakers have practiced their talks hundreds of times before getting up on stage, and it shows. With that in mind, take a cue from the world’s most revered speakers by practice your presentation in its entirety and doing so incessantly.

Being vigilant about preparation is a key point in helping you be at your best when delivering your presentation. Also, the more you practice, the easier it’ll be to experiment with different delivery styles, such as altering the tone and volume of your voice, or pausing for effect at certain points.

Hopefully these tips will help you feel equipped to give a stellar presentation rather than timidly asking yourself, “Did I give it my best shot?” When in doubt, ask people you trust for guidance in sharpening your message, but above all, speak from the heart.

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About the Author

Sarah Landrum

Sarah graduated with the highest distinction from the Smeal College of Business at Penn State, and then moved to Harrisburg, PA to pursue her career in digital marketing. She has a passion for writing and founded the blog Punched Clocks as a starting point for her freelance career. In her free time, she spends as much time as possible with her fiancé and two dogs. She loves taking walks and spending time in the great outdoors. You can usually find her reading, cooking, attempting DIY projects, and binge-watching Netflix. She hopes to one day grace the pages of The Muse and Forbes. Ultimately, it is her dream to have one of her projects become ultra-successful and help business for a client take off.