2 Presentation Skills Tips from Tedx Boston 2013

While practice is a great way (and perhaps the best) to improve your public speaking and presentation skills, observing others is also beneficial.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Tedx Boston. Have you ever been? What a day of inspiration!

tedxfor newsletter

Some of the ideas shared include:

  • The Fresh Truck: A school bus redesigned as a mobile grocery store that brings low cost healthy foods to inner city residents
  • The “floatyard“, a proposed residential community in Charlestown, MA that floats on the water (cool concept!)
  • A more serious talk about how teens can reject extremism.
  • How music can create more peace and harmony in the world

While each speaker offered very different ideas, two qualities emerged from all of them.

First, each speaker started with a strong opening. They shared personal stories, statistics, questions, musical performances and humor. They captured my attention immediately.

Second, they had passion and excitement for their cause. They believed in the positive impact their idea could have on the community. I walked away with a new appreciation for each and every idea. They transferred their passion to me because they made the idea about me, the audience member.

When public speaking, a short window of opportunity exists to capture the attention of your audience. Starting with a story, statistic or other attention grabber creates an immediate connection and develops trust. Even the emcee for the day started with stories and statistic before introducing themselves. Passion and excitement helps keep people engaged.

What practices do you use to create an immediate connection when speaking or networking? I like to brainstorm a list of options that might work for a specific presentation. I often use stories or questions infused with a little humor. Laughter is a great way to break the ice and feel more comfortable with the audience. The opener I use depends on the environment.

While practice is key to improving presentation skills, observing others also offers an incredible learning opportunity. TED talks are about “ideas that spread”. Ideas spread when there is connection, clarity and passion.

Interested in watching more TED talks? View and learn online at www.ted.org or learn more about the recent Boston event at www.tedxboston.org.

What do you think? How do you start a presentation and create a connection to your audience? What strategies have worked for you in the past? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your perspective.

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