Style AND Substance are Essential

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When you're giving a TED talk, the stage craft of how you come across is very important. Your performance skills, your platform skills are critically important. For example, it is very rare to see any speaker at TED. Like this, holding notes, the problem with holding notes is, it makes the whole thing seem like a tedious exercise listening to boring assistant professor in college, who's nervous and uncomfortable, you destroy the eye contact, you make it seem less like a conversation. And it's a lot more likely to be a data dump because there's so many points here so the notes cannot be visible in your hand. Get rid Now you also don't want to write them on your hand like Sarah Palin either.

You also can't be sort of turning your back and reading and PowerPoint, bullet points. That doesn't work either. The other thing that you See, in most business settings, most conventions conference you have elect what people call a podium. But a podium is actually what you stand on. The thing where there's a barrier between you and the audience and something to put your notes on. The President of the United States uses one for example.

Ted doesn't allow that. I commend Ted for that. Because once you give someone a lectern, you make them passive. You hide them, you immobilize them, you're creating a barrier between you and the audience. Ted is very smart. And that they get rid of all the trappings that people associate with awful boring speakers.

And they instead do the things that the highest level of professional speakers do people who are really true true performance artists on the stage. They're also doing the things that Oprah and other great communicators on TV Do you not see Oprah Winfrey when she's on her TV show, standing behind a lectern and looking like some pompous college professor. So you need to know that going in, you can say them. Well, you know, this is how I always give my speech, they don't care. And I praise the dead organizers for telling people they don't care. They care about what works for their audience.

And they know there's no one in the world better at bringing in huge, massive, massive audiences, to listen to speakers talking about serious things. Sure, you can be TMZ and show pictures of half naked celebrities and get a lot of views and clicks and audience. that's relatively easy, but actually getting people to listen to serious experts, academics, entrepreneurs, people who've devoted their life to really accomplishing something to get massive people to listen to them. That's a huge accomplishment. So Ted does it by basically forcing you to not do all the awful things that remind people of how much they don't like speakers, and how boring most speakers are. So that's why you don't see the lectern.

You also, there may be a few exceptions, none of this teleprompters stuff. Here's the problem with teleprompters unless you're used to using a teleprompter every day, most people do something like this. Good morning. I am happy to be here today. My name is TJ Walker, as President of media training worldwide, I coach CEOs and top leaders how to give speeches at TED and other famous for how awful that is. What I'm doing is what most people do when they're reading a teleprompter and they're not professional news readers.

They read at the same speed, the same file You the same tone, and their body and their heads freeze. So if you're in a TEDx or some smaller group somewhere, and maybe if you can get away from with something, don't try it. teleprompters are great if you're the president of the United States, and you have to give 10 speeches a day on complicated foreign policy issues. And one wrong slip causes an international incident or a war. But if you are giving a TED talk, and you're speaking about something, that you've devoted a lifetime to earn at least two years of working in it, and you know, in and out and you've experienced it, you shouldn't need a teleprompter, you should simply be sharing your experiences. And that's what great speakers do all the time, whether they're at TED or anyplace else.

They share experiences and that's what allows them to Walk arounds. Now I'm not walking around because I just have one little camera on me now, but Ted has a fancier production and they're going to have a camera person following you and they may have multiple cameras. So use the stage, sometimes it's just around little circle. But just taking a step one direction, a step back occasionally. forward a little bit, it creates tremendous variety, and will make you look more comfortable, more confident, more relaxed, and authoritative. And it will distinguish you from all the boring awful speakers out there.

Now, there are plenty of TED speakers who you can tell are somewhat nervous. They're not professional speakers. They just happen to be the world's greatest expert on bees or some other very specific aspect of science or mathematics or design. You don't have to be the world's greatest speaker but you do have to pay attention. To the stagecraft into basic performance skills, and as we'll talk about later, you're going to have to rehearse. And you're going to have to rehearse in a specific way on video.

But before you even worry about rehearsing, you got to get rid of the crutches that allows speakers use that don't really prop you up. And reading, trying to read a speech word for word of paper disaster, trying to read a teleprompter for most people most the time, a disaster, they're not going to have it and trying to rely on PowerPoint slides that have text. Pathetic, horrible disaster, don't even try it. You've simply got to speak. Now, I'm not opposed to you having some outline. But if you're going to have an outline, what I recommend for my own clients, what you can occasionally do is have a single sheet of paper, really large text, I can be on the floor.

You don't want to be seen touching notes. It's on the floor, no one will notice it. If there is a teleprompter on the floor, and it's a screen, I would have it so that it's not scrolling. So on the teleprompter, you have maybe five points and it's up the whole time. And that way, you don't have to worry about the teleprompter operator going too fast or too slow. But fundamentally, you're sharing your life story, your life's work.

It's not about remembering any one factor or any one number. It's about really connecting with people your passion, telling them what's most important. And if you have something to show in the form of glaciers that are melting, put it up there, really talk about the significance. beyond that. You're going to have to do the things that you see great speakers do. Speakers move their hands they do not hold a pen.

If you're holding a pen or a brush or something, then you've immobilized your hands. part of your body, you want your hands to move. You want your face to move your eyebrows to move. You want your height to change sometimes, because you're leaning forward, you want movement. Now, not all movement is good. If you're going like this the whole time and pacing in a highly consistent way that will seem like you're nervous.

If you're fidgeting with your ring on your finger the whole time, that will make you seem nervous. All of those things can be eliminated in rehearsal. If you rehearse on video, as we'll talk about shortly, but you do need some movement. You do need pauses. You do need eye contact with people in the audience. Even though the people watching you on their computer.

I can't necessarily see that. You don't want to just be seen like you're staring straight ahead. Because even if you're not reading a teleprompter, or a script, people will think that you are. You need natural movement. Now you've heard people sit will just be yourself. The problem with that advice is it's not particularly helpful.

Because if you're not used to standing up on a stage, bright lights on your face, all sorts of powerful, successful people staring at you, and knowing millions of people are going to watch you later. If you're not doing that every day, then the natural thing for you to do is to be scared. Oh my gosh, I'm scared. I could look like a fool up here. So when people give you advice of just be yourself, that's not particularly helpful. What you have to do is figure out how do you come across when you are at your most comfortable situation, when you're talking to three friends at a restaurant over a glass of wine How do you act?

When you're speaking to five colleagues that you know and trust in your office and you're explaining something? How do you come across? Chances are, you're not stiff and frozen and holding your hands, chances are, you're gesturing, you're moving, your voice goes up and down. There's animation in your voice, there's movement in your face. That's what you want. When you are giving your speech.

You have to pay attention to the stagecraft and you've got to pay attention to everything you're sending out there for people to see and hear. That includes dress you got to figure out how you want to dress now, not everyone has to dress in a conservative business suit and tie. You need to dress in a way that's consistent with who you are and what you're about. If you're an artist, you don't want to wear a conservative business suit. If you are a bank regulator and you're talking about how we've got to bust up the big banks, you probably don't want to be seen it jeans and T shirt. So how you dress is an important part of what your message is.

There's no one perfect way of dressing. But you do need to dress in a way that's consistent with what you're all about. every little detail will be scrutinized. And you don't want anything to distract if I started this video like this, and I set everything exactly the same way. But my ties like this. I think a lot of you be saying, Oh, that's weird why you'd be focusing on the tie, rather than what I'm saying and get you don't have to wear a tie, but you're better off having no tie than having one that's crooked like that.

So pay attention to every detail. And the biggest way to do that is you have to rehearse on video.

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