It’s that time of year again: TEDx events commenced worldwide throughout mid-October. And, after the excitement and spectacle of TEDx, many audience members think to themselves, “I should do that–can I do that?”
But there is much more to a TEDx talk than meets the eye. As a TEDx speaker coach, I’ve seen it. Even “what meets the eye” takes careful consideration. Before the TEDx speakers I worked with this year consulted a professional, they hadn’t thought to address certain presentation necessities.
It’s important to remember, whether you’re speaking in front of a TEDx audience or a boardroom of executives, there are presentation processes you may overlook or that just may not occur to you during your preparation. Nonetheless, it is essential to address these concerns–or you’ll end up looking like a novice speaker instead of the seasoned professional you are.
As a TEDx speaker coach, I can personally tell you the three things my speakers hadn’t thought to address until I pointed them out. Read on to find out how to polish your presentation and present like a professional.
Respect the Process: Memorization Takes Time
You underestimate how long it will take when it comes to memorization. Everyone does it. And on top of that, most speakers think having the “gist” will do–it won’t.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says it best in her book Presence.
“It’s not about having a memorized script;” Cuddy states, ” it’s about having easier cognitive access to this content, which frees you to focus not on what you fear will happen but on what’s actually happening.”
When you know your topic intimately, you can handle any curve ball that comes at you.
Okay, so we know memorization is important, but that isn’t the problem. The issue here is a speaker’s tendency to miscalculate how long memorization actually takes. And by thinking the process won’t take long, those speakers will sell themselves short.
What happens if you don’t know your speech as well as you should?
You fall into the uncanny valley, where you know a shadow of what you want to say but can’t spread proper light on it. It’s an eerie effect–this in-between state–and your audience won’t appreciate it when they feel your nervousness and uncertainty.
The trick to proper preparation is using a 60/40 split of your time. Spend 60 percent of your time creating your talk and 40 percent of your preparation time memorizing. This will prevent the panic of uncertainty when you step out to deliver your talk. Remember, knowledge is power: know your speech as well as you know yourself.
The Devil is in the Details: Check Your Wardrobe
With all of that time spent memorizing, it’s easy to forget the icing on the cake, i.e. the clothes on your body.
When a speaker walks out on the TEDx stage, how an audience perceives them is half the battle. People make an assumption within the first 15 seconds of seeing a person–with only one chance to make a first impression, you need to make it count.
It’s easy to dress to impress–unless you aren’t thinking about it at all. Don’t wait until the morning of your talk to haphazardly pluck clothes from your closet. Instead, take time and consideration when choosing your outfit. Does it tell the story you want to tell?
Don’t undermine your professionalism with a mini-skirt or ill-fitting sports jackets. Enhance your executive presence by dressing the part. Jewel-tones and power colors, such as dark blues and grays, are always a safe bet. Pick out clothes that fit and make you feel good–confidence gives you authority, and that instills trust in your audience.
It’s easy to forget the finishing touch on your masterpiece–decide ahead of time to avoid causing yourself stress and cluelessness before go-time. Don’t let your clothes distract–and detract–from your message.
Just Talk to Us: A Clear Message is Key
Speaking of your message–what is it? Do you state in clear, understandable language exactly what you have to say? You’ve spent so much time crafting your message by listening to your audience’s needs, don’t muddle your message when they’re listening to you.
When speakers aren’t quite sure what they’re trying to say, they fall into the trap of filler words. You know the ones: um, like, y’know, etc.
Nothing should come between you, your audience and your message, which is the only thing these filler words do.
The secret to delivering your message wholeheartedly is being relaxed. The problem: you aren’t relaxed, especially in front of a large crowd of people waiting for you to speak.
How do you overcome this?
Practice, practice, practice. It comes back to rehearsal, but this time, have a trusted friend watch you. They can point out any nervous ticks you may have–including unprofessional body language.
Are you pacing around like a tiger in a cage without even noticing? If you’re antsy, your audience will be too. You’ll be able to correct those pesky habits before the “real deal” if someone points them out.
Talking like TED and delivering like TED doesn’t have to be a fantasy.
By ensuring you make these simple tweaks to your talk, a speaker can take their speech from boring to bravo. Ice that cake, put on the finishing touch and every other cliché you can think of. When polished, you’re anything but the “same old.”