Categoría: Afilador de lenguas

12 septiembre, 2016

You Too Can Give a TED Talk. (No audition needed)

If you are like many of us, you relish on learning new, apparently complex information in a simple manner. It is time-efficient, rewarding and, most of all, pleasurable. That is, most likely, why you love TED Talks.

Who could resist the charm of getting to know more about how the brain works through Jill Bolte Taylor’s experience, about the power of vulnerability through Brené Brown’s research, or about Sixth Sense technology through Pranav Mistry. All in less than 20 minutes. We all wish our physics professor in middle school would have had such convenient teaching methods.

When one comes to think about it, the ability to explain something in an attractive format and understandable phrasing is alluring to us human for a simple reason: we are all going to die.

I am not being overly dramatic. Bear with me for a few more paragraphs and I’ll tell you why.

Since the dawn of human history, information has followed an exponential growing pattern. It first took us hundreds of thousands of years to learn fire could be sparked from friction and could help us spend less time chewing our living fuel, tens of thousands of years would go by before we rolled the first wheel. But, somehow, after we developed agriculture and settled, this construction we called society started to breed information as a preferred pet which mated quite rapidly.

With the invention of the printed press (bless Guttenberg), Socrates squirmed in his grave while the rest of us acquired a brilliant benefit: we could now devour a life’s worth of knowledge in a couple of hours. Writing in itself was a fantastic technology to register and share information between humans without the charm and inconvenience of having to produce those ideas ourselves as a result of praxis, contemplative thought and analysis. The repeatability of knowledge got even easier with the ink and metal plates of the printed press. We were able to “stand on giants’ shoulders” more easily.

With the invention of the printed press (bless Guttenberg), Socrates squirmed in his grave while the rest of us acquired a brilliant benefit: we could know devour a life’s worth of knowledge in a couple of hours.

Fast forward to the XXIst Century, and books not only proliferate on any subject, but can be accessed with one click. And yet, few books are fortunate enough to earn ten million readers. But somehow TED Talks do. One could argue the popularity of TED Talks comes from the ease of consuming video over reading words, but I believe it goes deeper than that:

We love being explained to –as long as the explainer does a good job and we are interested in the matter at hand– because one life will not suffice for us to understand or experience everything we would like to.

Thus, we need to live and process experiences and information vicariously: literature and explanations are two ways of profiting from this third-party knowledge transaction which only requires attentive listening –or reading– from our part.

However, most people believe only those who have gained a vast popularity or have achieved a surprising goal are worthy of giving a TED talk. My goal is to invite you today to prove that notion wrong.

So here is how to give a TED talk with no pre-selection process needed:

If you live well, your time alive will suffice to gather an above average understanding of a subject. It may be linked to your profession or to your life experience. Only you can know what that is. So here comes step #1: Find your area of expertise.

As Tim Ferris has said: in order to be considered an expert, all you need is to prove you know more than others. That’s it. Profit on that pragmatism and define the subject you can shed light on the most. That’s what will make your TED Talk valuable to other people.

Once you know what you are an expert in, define what notion, angle or discovery within that knowledge you have would be most interesting to others. That is what you need to talk about. Try to compress what could be interesting about that bit of knowledge for others into one sentence. That would be your talk title. Even if you will not “use” that title, having it will be indicative of your clarity level on what you want to communicate.

Now strip down your explanation to around 5 points you want people to remember. It shouldn’t take you longer than 5 minutes to voice it. That’s step #2. It will give you structure.

Now, on to step #3: Check your storytelling quota. You should be telling around 1 story (as short as you like) for every 5 facts you say. Opening with a story is good way to hook your audience into your speech.

Step #4: Include some examples that help illustrate your point. Your abstract thought may be impeccable but every listener is grateful for something the literary world calls “color”: examples and details help your audience establish a link between what is near to their hearts and minds –and to their daily life– and what you want to present to them. It helps people imagine with you. It bonds beyond reason and gives you access into your audience’s personal imaginary. Even if you think you don’t need examples, include them. I like to call it argumentative flirtation. It makes listening more pleasurable.

Examples and details help your audience establish a link between what is near to their hearts and minds –and to their daily life– and what you want to present to them. I like to call it argumentative flirtation

We are almost ready for you to step onto the stage. Only one thing left to do: Practice. A lot. So much that it should be step #5 to step #20. Get ready to be misunderstood. Phrase explanations differently. Own your story until you can tell it in a hundred different ways. Most of all, get comfortable with your words. I’m not talking about memorizing a script; I’m talking about making the information yours, inhabiting your talk. When you feel like you can go through it in your sleep, you’re ready to speak up.

Get ready to be misunderstood. Phrase explanations differently. Own your story until you can tell it in a hundred different ways. Most of all, get comfortable with your words.

Now, the step most people are afraid of: get an audience.

I know, it sounds daunting, but it isn’t. You already have one. You meet people every day –in meetings, on the street, in queues; friends of friends, relatives, co-workers and clients– who are willing to listen. Not only to you, but also to you. They long for meaningful human contact and struggle with uncomfortable silences just as you do. So there’s your chance to make those awkward moments valuable: next time you don’t know what to say, introduce your TED talk intervention with a related question following the format of “Did you know that_______” or go into your initial story as an introduction. Once you see the spark of curiosity in their eye, you’re ready to go into your full speech. Be ready to be interrupted with questions. Use them to relate your speech into their interests. Engage, interact, but, most of all, deliver all your goods. Don’t worry if you feel a flutter the first couple of times. Their sight is your spotlight. And, make no mistake, you will be vulnerable to their response. Specially so when you finish your small presentation and the lights dim. When you’ll be waiting for your applause.

Let me tell you what your applause will look like: the possibility of a new friend, a newfound lead who might turn into a client, an ally among your relatives who understand why that something you chose to talk about fascinates you. It might also be becoming the bright spot in someone’s dark hour or the access door to a world that person became inaccessible until they met you.

If you are lucky (and brave) by the end of your life, you’ll have had the possibility to present this tiny bit of your experience and knowledge to at least two thousand people. That is approximately the size of an average TEDx event. No need to audition, no one chance to blow. Only you, what you’ve learnt, your willingness to share it and your atomized audience. Hundreds of encounters in which you will present your contribution to the world. Thousands of conversations that, if harnessed, will grant you the possibility to see something most TED speakers miss:  the look on your audience’s face when realizing they have understood more of the world than what their individual life would have allowed them to, thanks to you.


 

No need to audition, no one chance to blow.


 

If you want to become a charming public speaker, our e-mail is always open to book you an appointment: info@verbomatacarita.com

 

If you are lucky enough to be in Mexico City, join our next “Háblame bonito” workshop.

 


 

María José de Tal is the founder of Verbo mata carita®, a Mexican based strategic communication consultancy company who has, among other things, trained Google® Mexico on sales abilities, Bacardi® bartenders in drink presentations with a lot of verbal flair, as well as Pernod Ricard® executives in the ability to synthesize easily. More than 100 people have graduated from our independent public speaking programs. For information on Check Mate, our interdisciplinary strategic content program, contact us via our social networks, phone or e-mail.

Learn more about us in our website.

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María José de Tal