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5 Strategies for Creating TED Talks to Make Your TED Talk Go Viral

Doug Staneart  |  09/09/22
last updated

person giving a presentation on a TED Talk stageCongratulations! You’ve been invited to give a TED talk. This non-profit talk series is the gold standard of speeches, so you should be honored to be on the event’s roster. Not to mention, how great it will look on your resume and website. You’ve undoubtedly been chosen because you’re an expert in your field be it medicine, literature, pop culture, gerontology, or careers, but it’s not the topic that will have your audience hanging onto your every word. No, it’s more than that. Attendees will be there to learn, but they will remember you for your stage presence and personality. Think about your favorite TED talk speakers. They may speak on a variety of subjects, but they all have something in common. Each speaker has an amazing stage presence.

The most powerful talks all use similar tactics to engage their audience and present well. Today, we discuss five strategies for creating Ted talks to help you create that stage presence and make your Ted talk go viral!

5 Strategies for Creating TED Talks to Make Your TED Talk Go Viral

Strategy #1: Make a Great First Impression

Make good First Impression Just like other public speaking presentations your first impression matters. When you first get up on the stage, the audience will immediately form an opinion of you. That initial opinion will determine whether or not they listen to you, and how seriously they will take your talk. Make that first impression a good one. Your body language matters just as much as your appearance. Get up there, be confident, be approachable, speak with decisiveness, and smile.

The first step in prepping to make a good impression is to act as if your Tedx talk is a job interview of sorts. So, don’t let your nerves impede your speaking ability. Pick out an outfit that makes you feel good (and look good). Doll yourself up! Let your confidence shine and don’t forget that you’re an expert and have something worth sharing. Your personal experiences and ideas can provide valuable insights to your audience.

Strategy #2: Don’t Just Stand There

Don't stand there The next step or good idea is to utilize the big stage you’re offered. Ted events are not your normal business presentations. The Ted stage is your oyster. It’s waiting for you to take the reins and use them. People came to listen, but that doesn’t mean they want to be bored either.

Give them a bit of a good time. You know the person you usually are on a Friday evening with your best friends? You’re animated. The funny one. You’re intelligent and witty. Someone that has a comeback for everything. You’re up on current events, and you’re sympathetic, engaging, and interesting. You want to be that person on stage. Share that energy with your audience members.

You know you’re a character, so let the audience in on that part of your personality. Share anecdotes and gesticulate. Make the audience laugh. TED talks are 50 percent facts and 50 percent showmanship. You’ll be far more interesting than if you were in college-professor mode, rhyming off stats with precision. That professor mode is a great way to bore your audience and put them in a daze. (It also makes it easier for nerves to take over and stage fright to set in). Great Ted speakers treat their talks like a live experience or concert. They move around and let loose a bit. That moving around helps rid yourself of nerves by letting your body at ease. A great talk has a comfortable speaker with an easy stage presence.

Strategy #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Use Hand Gestures (No, Not That Kind)

Use hand gestures When you’re truly interested in a subject, you’re far more likely to speak excitedly about it. Remember, as a kid, talking about your favorite animal or to your favorite person? Your eyes lit up, and your facial expressions and hand gestures were more animated. Now, as an adult, do those expressions and motions change when you talk about something you love? No, you still get animated! You start gesturing and your charisma level goes up about 10 points. Don’t be afraid to show your passion for something – it will get the audience’s attention in a way that can’t be reproduced by someone who was just paid to speak about a random subject. Express yourself with your hands. Use your fingers to point, and ball up your fists if it’s necessary. Walk around the stage, too.

Liken it to a meeting or training you’ve attended. When the speakers spend a lot of time sitting or staying in one spot, their voices likely went robotic or monotone. Their presentation droning on. Versus, a good talk involved some movement and held your attention by using hand gestures. The key point is to find a balance between passionate energy and looking crazy. Some of this will flow easier during a bit of preparation. During prep, your body will find ease and natural places to fit hand gestures or movements.

Strategy #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Smile

You’re afraid of killing your credibility, so you plan to be up there, acting as seriously as possible. Big mistake. Smiling makes you look approachable, friendly, and relaxed. Smiling is also a sign that you’re comfortable about your subject (which all experts should be) and fun.

When you have fun, your audience will, too. So don’t be afraid to show those pearly whites onstage. A smile is one of the best ways to connect with your audience.

Strategy #5: Don’t Read Off of Cue Cards

Dont read off cue cards If you must use cue cards, or any kind of notes at all, make them as few and as inconspicuous as possible. It will remind your audience of a bored speaker at a charity dinner.

The best speakers don’t have any notes at all. They speak completely off the cuff. If you do need to use notes, reserve them for statistics or hard-to-remember numbers. Your most important information won’t be a fact you read straight off your notes. Don’t let your main ideas fall flat because your general audience is focused on what’s in your hand. Good speakers reach their audience by sharing what they already know. Remember, your expertise got you here, so you know what you’re talking about.

It’s Not That Complicated

See, it’s not so hard to give a good TED talk. You’ve already got the knowledge and made it through the selection process. So, just infuse those smarts with your personality, and you’ll be sure to shine on stage.

Utilize these strategies and you’re bound to have a great presentation. Can’t wait to see your talk!

author Doug Staneart
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Doug Staneart is the CEO of The Leader's Institute. LLC and founder of the Fearless Presentations class. He is author of Fearless Presentations, Mastering Presentations, and 28 Ways to Influence People.

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