Secret #5 of star presenters: @TEDchris on persuading your audience [Video]

Here’s a brilliant metaphor (plus advice) for giving a talk. It comes from Chris Anderson (curator of TED), speaking recently at TED Global in the UK.

Take people on a mental journey step-by-step

In setting up his metaphor, he says that when you speak, your main task is like cloning your talk’s core message into your listeners’ heads. So to do that, he asserts that because of how the brain works, you need to take people on a mental journey step-by-step from their current state to one where they’ve accepted your message.

You might already know the metaphor of treating your talk as a journey. For me though, the best part of Chris’s version comes next, when he asks rhetorically:

What are the 2 things you need to do to persuade people to
come with you on a journey?

And he answers with this fantastic quote:

“You’ve got to start where they are, and you’ve
got to give them a reason to come with you.”
Chris Anderson

Man! To me that’s so powerful. In a simple metaphor of less than 20 words, Chris conveys 2 essentials that nearly all presenters forget. (No wonder most speakers struggle to persuade audiences to act!)

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Chris’s talk, and believe there’s lots in it for you too. From the many tips he shared, here are 4 of the best:

(To jump to the right part of the clip on YouTube, click the time shown.)

  • Use accessible language, not jargon – 3:35
  • Include examples that make your ideas more meaningful for people – 4:48
  • Write a headline (not just a descriptive title) to keep your talk focused – 14:26
  • Video your rehearsals to see where you’re doing best – 20:32

So I highly recommend you watch the whole talk (below), which is almost 25 minutes long. Or if you’d like, you can jump to his quote on YouTube (as cited near the start of this post). The video’s also available on the TED Blog.

Note: If the video starts midway along the timeline, please just drag the playhead to the start.

Over to you

  • What are 1 or 2 of your favourite quotes about speaking?
  • What TED talks or other videos inspire you as a speaker?
  • Share your favourite finds through the comment box below.

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4 thoughts on “Secret #5 of star presenters: @TEDchris on persuading your audience [Video]

  1. Pingback: Resources: Scicomm & science journalism | Beyond the Written Word:

  2. Thanks for posting this – I thought it was a fantastic video packed chock full of information. I actually feel like I need to watch it 2-3 times to really get it. I think his analogy of a talk being a journey was the best part – loved how he talked about the stepping stones and getting between each one.


  3. Pingback: Become More Persuasive - Start Where Your Audience Are At

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