I did it. On September 7, 2019, I gave my first ever TEDx talk: “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: embracing uncertainty in a changing world,” at TedxFarmindale.
It could not have gone better. Though the video won’t go live on TED.com for another month, I want to share with you my top three insights of why it did so YOU can give a killer presentation do. WHY? Because it is relevant, and like most people – I bet you also believe that delivering a killer presentation will boost your career. On the flip side, I can tell you that giving a speech that tanks will leave you feeling like you could have done better. This should not be the case.
1. REHEARSE, REHEARSE, REHEARSE.
Let me tell you the secret to my recent success: I rehearsed to the point of ridiculous.
That’s right: All you need to do, above all, is REHEARSE. If you have not practiced to the point where you think you and your cat can’t hear this talk ONE SINGLE MORE TIME, the audience will pick up on it. Even if you’re typically a superstar speaker, or do it for a living, like me — if you think you can wing it, you are in for a bumpy ride. Do like I did and like everyone saw me do ad nauseam on social media: rehearse. Practice in the shower. Make your cat watch the talk again and again (thanks, Waffles). Record yourself, and listen to the recording while on your morning walks. In other words, prepare obsessively so that when you speak your first words, your audience is captivated and entertained.
2. CONNECT TO THE MATERIAL, like, WITH FEELING.
One reason speakers fail even when they ARE rehearsed is because they don’t connect to themselves and just recite. Luckily, before my own talk, I got to meet Olympia Dukakis who generously accused me of this and whipped me into shape. You have to believe in your own story for the audience to trust you and believe you and your idea. The fulcrum moment is when someone goes from thinking “interesting idea” to “I want to do something about this idea.” In my talk, I connected by slowing down and feeling each section, understanding that I was giving this – like a present – to every person in that audience, and beyond. I think it worked because you can see on my Instagram how many people commented on my posts saying I gave them a lot of food for thought and that they were moved by this talk. That, to me, is everything.
3. LET IT GO.
Let go of wanting this to go viral. Let go of wanting to get a book deal out of this. Let go of being right. Let go of being the expert. Let go of the perfect word or sentence. Instead, let people in to know you. TEDx is nerve-wracking. You are on a black stage where the spotlight is so bright you cannot see anyone in the audience, even if they are a few feet away. You get one take to do 12-15 minutes straight. I promise you, you will be fine IF you can let go of any ego and just get out there and do your best, be yourself, and even have some fun around here.
I know you have a great idea worth sharing and hope these speaking tips have helped you, but here’s another tip in case YOU are about to give the talk of a lifetime, or dream of speaking at TED:
Giving a big presentation is an incredible but daunting opportunity. Don’t take it lightly. Invest in focused speaker coaching – like my brilliant Coach – Jen Groover.
For anything else, ask me. I’m about to do my announce my SECOND TEDx… and I really do believe I’ve figured this one out.
Here’s to your success,
– Coach Keren