Why You Should Know TED

17th February, 2010 - Posted from janebeard

TED is a terrific series of conferences on “Big Idea” topics related to Technology, Entertainment and Design (hence, TED). They invite speakers from around the world to come talk about “ideas worth spreading.” And in twenty minutes or less, the audience gets to learn what they’re creating and why.

After the conference, TED posts the talks for free on the web. They even ask viewers to rate and describe the talks, so that you can head for talks based on topic, speaker or popularity.

There are a lot of reasons you should know TED. First, the subject matter is often surprising and even fascinating…surprisingly fascinating, in fact. At TED, you can hear a brain scientist describe her experience of having a stroke, a writer on the nature of genius, and the surprising ways rocket scientists use the art of origami, as they build new space telescopes. Another of our favorites shows how a deaf musician can expand the way hearing audiences experience music.

Three of the talks above were talks that didn’t hold much interest for us, based on their description. But we watched anyway. From them, we have taken ideas which influence our lives, every day. THAT’S true evidence of the power of messaging that is focused, brief and spoken in every day language.

Second, these talks pack a real punch in very little time. The rule is that talks in the main tent have to come in under twenty minutes, and have to work for a lay audience. That is, you can’t require that the audience be expert in your topic before they hear your ideas. Speakers have to define terms, deliver context and use conversational language. The “talks” often are more like conversations, with one person doing the talking.

Just like we urge our clients to do when we coach them.

Complex topics like mirror neurons are covered in eight minutes…and you don’t have to be a scientist to understand it. Three minutes to blow open your ideas about what’s true in the world

If these guys can do THAT, in less than ten minutes, you can do the same thing, no matter what your topic is. And your colleagues want you to. You can

– deliver the message in the minimum time you need, rather than then maximum time you are given;
– use language everyone can understand
– intend the ideas to change the way the audiences sees and interacts with the world around them…even in your own conference room.

Finally, the TED talks will start to open up your ideas of what strong presenters “look” like. They show you the range of performance possibilities for presentations. We’d love to have coached some of these speakers. Others are terrific as they are. Most speakers are authentic, more engaged in empowering us with an idea, rather than trying to show us how smart they are.

Since so many of the people we coach are battling their vision of the way they are “supposed” to be in their presentation, it can be especially freeing to see that the best talks are enhanced by an authentic self, rather than a “Sunday best” version of your self.

From time to time, we’ll spotlight a specific TED Talk for how it applies specific presentation ideas we think are worth spreading. In the meanwhile, noodle around on their site and learn something surprisingly fascinating today.