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Presentation secrets of the world’s best speakers

Presentation secrets of the world’s best speakers

What do Simon Sinek and Sheryl Sandberg have in common if not their initials? I am talking about their presentation skills as they are the speakers of my favorite TED talks. Not a weird thing as if you think about it. Sinek’s Golden Circle and Sandberg’s pleas about more female leaders have been hyped all around the world. Not only do they convey an important message, it’s the way they present their message that keeps us at the tip of our seats. Something we would love to learn, right? Therefore, I’ve digged into the presentation secrets of world’s best speakers. Where I found most of those secrets? In Akash Karia’s book How to talk like TED. These were my favorite tips.

Create an attention grabbing opening

 “Hi, my name is Liona and thank you for attending my presentation.” Could that opening have been more boring? Don’t think so. Please do not start your presentation with thanking everyone and introducing yourself. Of course, it is a nice thing to do, but not a thing to open with. Try to shake things up by starting with a captivating story, a question to address a knowledge gap (which you’ll answer during the presentation) or include a big promise.

Turn your stories into mental movies

Stories become more interesting for your audience when they are turned into mental movies. That way, the story will come more to live in their minds. The secret to creating these mental movies is by making sure the story is rich in sensory inputs. Akash explains the four VAKS senses that need to be covered:

  1. Visual: What can you see?
  2. Auditory: What can you hear?
  3. Kinesthetic: What can you feel?
  4. Smell: What can you smell?

Be unexpected

There’s nothing worse than listening to a presentation where all topics presented are predictable (and therefore boring). Try to be unexpected and offer your audience something new. Offering something can be done by illustrating a point with an example from a different industry, by using interesting quotes or adding a personal story. I really like doing the latter, as this also adds to people forming an emotional connection with you as a presenter.

Use delivery techniques for dynamic storytelling

Only having a great story is not good enough. It is important to pay attention on how to deliver it in a way that keeps your audience on the edge of their seats. Karia mentions some delivery devices which will make you a more dynamic speaker:

  • Pause before you begin
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Get rid of filler words
  • Gesture naturally
  • Use posture to bring your characters to life
  • Keep facial expressions congruent with your story
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Bigger audience means a bigger you
  • Match the audience’s energy level
  • Make full use of the stage
  • Use vocal variety

Personally, I feel the best way to practice these delivery techniques is by filming yourself while doing your presentation. Yes, it is cringing to see and hear yourself on video (believe me). But that same cringing feeling also ensures you’ll improve quickly!

Funny thing is that I was motivated to read this book so I could properly prepare my thesis defense (let’s forget the fact that I read it 10 days before my actual defense on the plane back from holiday). Apparently, I did so well in applying the tips my thesis committee’s feedback was to tone it down a notch with the TED talk feel I gave to the whole presentation. What are your tips for giving spectacular presentations? Let us know in the comments below!

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