How to present your TED Talk

Joni Bais
03 jul 2013

Great Communicators coacht al enige tijd sprekers voor de wereldberoemde TEDX conferenties. In onderstaand Engels artikel legt onze sprekerscoach Joni Bais uit hoe je impact maakt op het podium voor duizenden mensen.

On June 20 TEDxAmsterdam will host the European auditions for TED 2013, for which you can still apply until the 2nd of May. But how can you convince Chris Anderson that you and your idea should be part of TED 2013? Joni Bais, a public speaking coach, gives some practical tips on how to improve your presentation.

So, you have this great idea. This idea that can change the world. And thanks to the worldwide talent search, organized this year for the first time, there is a possibility that you will be able to present your idea at the TED 2013 conference in Long Beach. Looks like you’ve made it! But have you? Take a look at this talk by Nancy Duarte at TEDxEast about the importance of good communication. No matter how good your idea, if you don’t present it to your audience effectively, no one is going to remember it and no one is going to do anything with it.

Okay, now that we’ve established the importance of communicating for your idea well, and we know something about how the best communicators build their presentation, it’s time for some more practical tips. For this let’s turn to Joni Bais, one of the founders of Great Communicators and public speaking coach for several former TEDx-speakers. By looking at how the world’s best speakers use their voices, emotions, and non-verbal communication and translating these patterns into useful and practical tips, she has helped a lot of people with their public presentations. Joni talked me through some of the most important tips and showed me how Joris Luyendijk used these in his talk at TEDxAmsterdam 2011.

Tell a story

One of the foundations of good public speaking is explaining your idea through storytelling. Joni explains: “Why do we remember the storyline of a film even ten years after we’ve seen it? The structure and characteristics of a story sticks to our memory.” But how do you convert your presentation into a story? Try using the following tips:

  • Tell your story in a highly descriptive and detailed manner
  • Keep your story simple and to the point, instead of talking in abstract terms
  • Do or say something unexpected to draw attention of the audience (such as Joris Luyendijk’s “AAAAAAARGH” in the beginning of his talk)

To help yourself with the first two points make sure to use examples. Joni: “By using concepts or metaphors you can connect to concepts that people have in their brains. This helps them to remember your story, as it draws a direct image in their heads. Joris Luyendijk does this for instance by talking about a ‘department store of brain foods’ [at 15:35]“. It’s also good to use personal anecdotes. “A lot of people are afraid that when they use a personal anecdote their story becomes to ego-centered. But actually people like a personal story, like Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford. People can identify with you more easily when you use the word ‘I’.”

People remember emotions, not facts

The use of emotion is another useful tool that ensures people will remember your talk is the use of emotions. Joni explained: “When I ask you what you ate three days ago you probably won’t remember. But when I ask you what you did on your birthday last year, you’re probably able to tell me a detailed story about that day. That’s because the last is covered with emotion and that’s what our brain remembers.” In order to incorporate this tool Joni asks speakers the following three questions while preparing:

  • With what emotion do you want the audience to leave after your talk? In Joris Luyendijk’s presentations this is inspiration for action: “Go do it yourself.”
  • Which mantra do you want to convey to the audience? Make sure you can say this in one sentence and repeat this sentence several times in your talk, such as “Share your learning curve” in Joris Luyendijk’s talk.
  • What emotion touches you personally? Make sure you reach this emotion in your talk, because in this way you can demonstrate your passion for the idea/subject to the audience. A good example of this is the ‘AAAAAAARGH’ in Joris Luyendijk’s lecture, where he shares his frustation with the audience. And later when he talks about his solution you see that he lights up. By sharing these emotions you take your listener with you during your story.

Use your voice

Your voice is also a powerful tool Great speakers use their voice to guide you through their story without boring you. How do they do this? And how can you? Joni gives three simple and practical tips:

  • Use variations in volume
  • Use variations in pace (listen how Joris Luyendijk talks slower when introducing his idea at around 14:00)
  • Use silence
  • Particularly for the first two tips it’s important that they become an unconscious habit in your speaking behaviour. This is why Joni advises practicing whenever possible, on your bike, in the car, but also in personal conversations.

Avoid distractions

Something that can distract your audience is the way you present yourself onstage with non-verbal communication, such as your posture, your movements on stages and the way that you’re dressed. Joni: “Everything you show evokes associations and as a presenter you want people to focus on what you have to say. The most important thing is to be aware of the associations that people may have and to make sure that you use these wisely and consciously, strenghtening your story. In order to become aware of these associations it’s always good to ask people around you what associations you give them.”

Anything else?

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Joni tells me that every speaker she coaches has his or her own strenghts and points of improvement. So, even though the tips provided can help you a lot, it’s impossible to give general rules. However, there is one advice that Joni gives to every speaker she coaches: “Speak from the heart, not from the tongue! There are a lot of good storytelles out there, but the stories with the most impact are those who are real and personal, coming straight from someone’s heart.”

Training platform Great Communicators helps speakers optimize their performance and make their stories powerful. Triggered? On the 2nd, 24th of May and 14th of June Great Communicators organizes (Dutch) workshops Public Speaking. Furthermore you can connect with them for English and Dutch 1 to 1 coaching to help you with your presentation. See for more info.

(dit artikel is afkomstig van, en is april 2012 gepost door Tim Jansen)