At the weekend I attended my first live TEDx event.
There was such care and commitment from all the volunteers who created the event, and they crafted something very special.
Close to the stage, lying back on a bright orange bean bag, with my note book and pen at the ready, I was excited to be part of the TEDx global community, and ready to swallow the experience whole.
There were 12 live talks. Plus three more on video, recorded at events in the US and Netherlands.
- It is not enough to know your subject inside out. It is not enough to be well spoken, passionate about your subject, and adopt a confident stance. If you can’t express your connection with what you’re talking about, if you don’t speak about what it means to you, if there’s no I in it, then your words fall flat and your message isn’t memorable.
- Leaders of all ages who are willing to share the insights from their rich life experiences are inspiring, especially when they’re just 21 years-old.
- It is not enough to expect your audience to understand what it’s like to experience a tragedy. You have to tell us with the words and tone that express your pain. You have to show us with your body language that matches how you feel or felt. You have to be aligned with your message and your stories. You have to let us in. You have to be vulnerable. Then we’ll connect with you, and walk in your shoes for a few minutes. Then we’ll care, and remember. Then your words might inspire us to behave a little differently in our own lives. Then you will have given us a very special gift.
- Issuing a call to action in your talk – any talk – is imperative. Please, tell your audience what to do. As a thought leader, a change agent, a person with wisdom and intelligence and insight who has the capacity to transform with her words, it’s your job as a speaker to tell people what you want them to do. That is powerful speaking.
- You have stories to tell that can influence others. Stories of your own experiences that people want to hear. You might not think they’re very interesting. I promise you they are. Your stories matter.
- A word on the word expert. There’s a trap for experts who know a lot about their subject and forget that they are human beings too. Their experience of the subject is much more interesting and meaningful for their audiences than the fact that they know a lot about it. As a speaker, hiding behind expert doesn’t serve you – and more importantly your audiences – no matter how many letters you have after your name. We want to know why you care, what possessed you to become that expert, what it means for you and what it could mean for us, too.
- Folding your arms when you’re on stage is a no-no, unless it’s a relevant part of the story you’re telling.
- If you’ve been to the edge of the world and your life – literally – your audiences want to know what that was like. Please, don’t just give us the facts of the matter. Tell us what it was like for you. Tell us what it was like to push yourself to such extremes. Tell us about the hard parts and the times you wondered whether you’d get out alive. Tell us what helped you survive. Take us with you on your journey.
- Structure matters. Know how to put a talk together that makes your message clear to your audience.
- Singing is a beautiful way to capture your audience quickly, especially when you have a stunning voice and you’re absolutely present. Divine!
Sound like a lot to think about as a speaker? It is when you choose to learn public speaking from a text book or someone who cracks the whip with worn out techniques.
I’m overjoyed to tell you that the secret to powerful speaking is connection. Master that, and everything else falls in to place, just like magic.
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