CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JAN. 03, 2014
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How to Become a Great TED speaker

TED is a nonprofit initiative devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED talks attract the world’s most innovative, influential thinkers and doers who are tasked with giving the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. These talks are given within the framework of TED Conferences which aim to promote ideas that change attitudes, lives and hopefully the world.

The TED conference with its high-powered speakers and thousands of viral videos, has become a cultural touchstone. If you have a brilliant idea and ambition and you would like to inspire other people, maybe a TED conference is the right forum for you.

So how do you become a great TED speaker? John Bates, an independent consultant and expert for TED and TEDx speakers, provides us with useful insights to help you spread great ideas.

First, Live Your Great Idea

Bates argues that if your idea is not special enough to be shared, then it’s not going to be a TED-worthy talk. “The key to getting onto the TED stage is to just go out and be great in your life”. If you aspire to get tapped as a speaker it is essential that you first spot something that will make a difference. The next step is to go talk about it and inspire other people whenever you can.

Find Your Superhero Origin Story

If you are not certain what your big idea is, or you are pulled in many directions, Bates advises getting in touch with your “superhero origin story”, which helps explain the source of your passion. “Just look where you spend your money and time, and that’s what you are giving your life to”. Bates adds that “when you question why you chose to do this, and where did it come from, that’s probably a great angle into something that may be worthy of being shared with a lot of people”.

Embrace TEDx

Your ultimate TED target is to take the main stage at the annual gathering. Bates advises aspiring speakers to embrace TEDx, the independently organised local gatherings that happen across the world. Don’t worry so much about being on the TED main stage; go give an amazing talk at a TEDx event in your region and then use social media to make it go viral.

Face Your Fears

There is no shame in being afraid of public speaking states Bates. According to him, “when fears come up about public speaking, it’s usually the same issues that block people in other places, in their management or leadership”. Public speakers often do not want to get noticed by the audience, thinking that their speech can go badly, which is why they are reluctant to show emotions on stage. But according to Bates, the best speakers and communicators do show their real emotions; even potential weaknesses when they are on stage.

Mind Your Neuroscience

Bates notes that humans are biologically wired to receive information in certain ways and it is important to take this into consideration when you give your speech. He explains for instance that “there have been plenty of studies that show that when someone onstage is talking fast, people will say they are lying, they don’t know what they are talking about and they’re low status”.   As a result, he encourages his clients to speak more slowly so that their audience perceive them as experts, reliable and high-status speakers.

If you have dreamed of taking the stage at TED or TEDx, following these tips will help bring you one step closer. Once you have your technique worked out the only thing you need to do is fill in this form.

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