4 Public Speaking Tips From TED Curator Chris Anderson

By Anna Dunn, March 14, 2016

Do you get tongue-tied in team meetings or stage fright when you have to make an impromptu announcement during an event? While you may not be presenting to a TED-size audience, TED founder and curator Chris Anderson’s new book will help you transition from behind-the-scenes to stage-ready. Take note of four fundamental public speaking tips from “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” which hits shelves May 3.

1. Create a throughline.
Like any good film, your speech should have a connecting theme (aka a throughline). “Think of the throughline as a strong cord or rope, onto which you will attach all the elements that are part of the idea you’re building,” says Anderson. And keep the theme short—be able to describe it in 15 words or less. Ask yourself: “What is the precise idea you want to build inside your listeners?”

2. Understand less is more.
Focus on depth rather than breadth. “Throughlines that connect large numbers of concepts don’t work,” says Anderson. “There’s a drastic consequence when you rush through multiple topics in summary form. They don’t land with any force.” Get to the point and cover less—but the most important—content so your audience doesn’t get lost.

3. Keep it interesting.
Voice coaches often refer to volume, pitch, pace, timbre, tone and prosody (the singsong quality of speech) when it comes to speaking. Anderson also recommends injecting variety into your speech. Insert pauses, change up the pace and avoid using the same vocal pattern throughout your talk.

4. Know your purpose.
Keep in mind why you’re speaking. Anderson’s single biggest piece of advice: “It’s not about you, it’s about the idea you’re passionate about. Your job is to be there in service of that idea, to offer it as a gift.”

Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson

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