How to Give a Killer Presentation

If you’re familiar with TED Talks, then you know how brilliant they are.

If you’re not familiar with TED Talks, TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, go to 11 Classic Talks on TED and then come back and read this post.

TED Talks are inspiring, motivating, educational, and life changing. As it turns out, though, TED Talks, are not spontaneous.

Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Talks believes that giving great talks is highly coachable and he shares his team’s tips for how they coach their speakers.

Two of his coaching resources are linked here, so you, too, can give a “killer presentation.”

    1. Chris Anderson video on what makes a great talk great.
    2. Chris Anderson’s HBR Whitepaper“How to Give a Killer Presentation

Anderson’s HBR article is lengthy, so we’ve boiled down his concepts for you:

  • Humans are wired to listen to stories and metaphors are highly effective, so great talks take your audience on a little journey that help people see the world differently after their journey with you.
  • Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation. The best speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience member that they should care too.
  • The biggest problem with many talks is that they try to cover too much content. You need specific examples to bring life to your idea, so limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained in the length of your talk, whether that’s 5, 10, or 18 minutes.
  • Some of the best talks mimic a detective story where you open with the problem and then describe the search for solution leading to the “a-ha” moment.
  • People in the audience are intelligent, let them figure some things out for themselves and give them an opportunity to draw their own conclusions.
  • Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us. Sound familiar? “Don’t boast about your nonprofit. Tell us the problem you’re solving.”
  • Plan your delivery. You can either read your talk, memorize your talk, or develop a set of bullets points that map out what you want to say in each section. Memorization works best if you have time.
  • Conversational tone works best because it’s usually the most authentic. Try not to sound authoritative. Your content will speak to your authority.
  • It’s okay to be nervous on stage–the audience expects you to be nervous. It’s not okay to be fidgety and move around the stage a lot. No need to be stiff, but think how annoying it is when a speaker paces the stage. Make eye contact with at least five or six people in the audience. Breath deeply before you go on stage to moderate your breathing and voice.
  • You don’t always need PowerPoint slides, in fact many brilliant talks don’t have any visual aides. If and when you use slides, don’t read bullet-for-bullet. Use minimal text on the slides. Use photos, cartoons, graphics or metaphors on your slides. Explore more dynamic multimedia options like Prezi or video.
  • Give yourself enough advance time. TED presenters start prepping AT LEAST SIX MONTHS in advance of their talk. The talk is in final form a full month before the event.
  • The most memorable talks offer something fresh. The worst ones seem formulaic.
“Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker.”  – Chris Anderson