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TED Talks

The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

By Chris Anderson
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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TED Talks by Chris Anderson

TED Talks (2016) is the definitive guide to delivering a killer public speech. These blinks cover everything from stage fright to choosing the perfect outfit and will prepare to give a talk that’ll inspire any audience.

Key idea 1 of 8

Public speaking is a great way to spread your ideas; anyone can learn to do it.

Imagine you’re about to step onto a big stage to present an innovative project to a crowd of hundreds. This scenario probably sparks some anxiety in you.

How come?

Because we humans are social creatures, and when we speak in public, we put something very dear to us on the line – our reputation. We depend on one another for our survival and therefore invest a lot in being respected and supported. So, it makes sense that we are anxious about expressing our views publicly, risking being disliked, ridiculed or even worse, ignored.

But don’t worry, even if your fear of rejection vastly outweighs your self-confidence, you can still speak well in public and spread your story.

As an example, consider Monica Lewinsky. In 2015, she gave a TED Talk on the public shaming she suffered following her affair with former president Bill Clinton. Before the talk, she was extremely nervous. She knew that millions of people would hear her speech and was terrified that she would screw up, further damaging her reputation. But in the end, the audience gave her a standing ovation and an endless stream of glowing online reviews.

The moral is, don’t let your lack of confidence hold you back from giving public speaking a shot. Just remember, while there’s a lot at stake, it’s a great opportunity to get your ideas out into the world.

And the truth is, public speaking is a skill that anyone can learn. For example, in Kenya, a 12-year-old boy named Richard Turere invented a system to keep lions from killing his family’s cattle. He had realized that the predators were afraid of moving lights and created a network of lights that switched on and off in sequence, frightening the lions away. The tool became wildly popular and he was invited to give a TED talk.

At the time, Turere was shy, spoke very little broken English and had a difficult time describing his invention coherently. But even he, after just six months of training, was able to come to California and give an amazing speech, captivating the audience with his story and his charm.

So, say you do manage to summon up the courage to give a public speech. How can you give a convincing presentation?

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