Insights From 5 Years of Coaching TEDx Speakers

Veteran TEDxCharlotte speaker coaches Candice Langston and Mike Watson offer some tips for crafting a great presentation. Whether you’re doing a TEDx talk or a talk in some other format, these tips will help you deliver a knock-out!

  1. Know your audience. Tailor your message and delivery to the audience—for example, one comprised of professional colleagues calls for a more formal approach. An audience made up of people outside your work world is suited for a more relaxed tone—allow your personality (and humor) to shine through. Regardless, audiences crave “newness,” and a message delivered without corporate-speak will be well received.
  2. Lead with emphasis and make your point right away.  People decide within the first few seconds if you’re worthy of their attention. Grab it! One tip we always give is to distill the “message” to one sentence. This helps you structure your talk. It will also help answer the question “How do I start?”
  3. Be passionate…and be vulnerable. Both are essential to connecting with the audience. Passion comes from the heart, so include something about yourself, regardless of the subject. And when you stand tall and exposed, you share what it is to be human. This honest action rallies the audience to your side.
  4. Practice relentlessly (like, hundreds of times). When you really “know” your talk, it becomes part of you.
  5. Practice pronunciation and enunciation! Nothing takes a talk, or an audience, off-track like a mispronounced word. Give your talk to a friend or colleague and ask him or her just to listen for mistakes.
  6. If possible, be in control of the environment. Temperature, lighting, sound, placement of furniture…all play a part in the success of your talk. If your talk involves technology, make sure you know it works, and be ready to give it without the aid of slides.
  7. Do kids ever say “Mommy, give me a presentation?” People want to hear stories! Don’t aim for “perfection.” Aim for connection.