Four TED Talk-Inspired Speaking Tips To Improve Your Remote Communication Skills

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Four TED Talk-Inspired Speaking Tips To Improve Your Remote Communication Skills

Written by: Nili Peretz, Forbes Councils Member

TEDx speaker, author, former attorney, executive speech coach and co-founder of Positive Chutzpah International.


Last year, I had the honor of working with TEDxSavyon speakers as their head coach. As a TED Talk speaker, you find yourself preparing for months for one opportunity to film what you hope will be a successful, internet-breaking talk. 

Today, with the recent spike toward virtual communication, it is crucial that we entrepreneurs, business owners and executives learn how to captivate our audience through a screen, just like TED Talk speakers. 

In this article, I’ll share four critical secrets inspired by successful TED Talk speakers to help fuel your impact in the digital arena.

1. Captivate your audience with your message. 

A TED Talk, unlike other lectures, keeps its focus on one “idea worth spreading.” Such an idea needs to be clear, simple and precise so that the audience can relate to it and spread it. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. The art of focusing on one central idea and presenting it in a short time frame is a huge challenge, even for the most experienced speakers.

Today in the digital arena, we all experience endless battles over our listeners’ attention. Whether you use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Webex or some other platform, your participants have one thing in common: They are all just one click away from checking out of your session. Think about yourself: Did you check your phone during the last video meeting you attended? Well, you are not alone. According to one survey, more than half of workers are doing other things during virtual meetings, such as checking emails, texting or surfing the internet, and one in five people say their meetings are rarely productive.

We must stay compelling, accurate and captivating in this new reality, just as TED speakers do. Every minute counts — each word scores. Every nuance is essential. If your message is not exact, precise and innovative, people will not stick around to listen. 

2. Converse with your listeners.

Successful TED speakers do not lecture to their audience; they converse with them. Simple language, warm gestures and personal stories help them create a connection with their audience. 

With the transition to remote communication, this conversational style becomes relevant to all of us. The idea of transferring knowledge to others by lecturing in a one-sided way does not fit the virtual arena anymore. Why? Because we lose real-time feedback. We can’t see the participants’ full physical reactions on the screen, so we can’t gather spontaneous physical clues regarding our communication effectiveness. 

That’s why we want to find alternative ways to get feedback from our listeners. Similar to TED Talks, every lecture or virtual meeting turns into a conversation where we gather data about our listeners’ experiences and emotions through questions, activation and other engaging ways.

3. Create an interactive experience. 

The artist Amanda Palmer opened her TED Talk standing on top of a small box holding a flower, enacting a self-employed living statue. She chose to open this way to convey her idea of asking without shame.

Often we think that if we have something important to share, people will listen to us. But that is not true. People will not listen to us — even if we have life-saving information for them — if the information is not presented engagingly. 

TED speakers know that to spread an idea, it is not enough to convey interesting information. You have to create an unforgettable experience for your audience.

For example, Yonatan Nir, an international documentary filmmaker and a former traveling photojournalist, gave a TEDx Talk about how “documentary filmmaking can transform our relationship with trauma.” Although his topic is challenging, Yonatan created an enjoyable experience for his audience by sharing breathtaking images from his voyages worldwide. 

Another great example is the scientist Jaron Rabinovici, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, who uses a lot of humor while speaking about “The Future of Making Babies.” 

Creating a multi-interactive experience for our listeners is relevant today more than ever with the transition to the digital arena. Since we lose so much of the human experience when we enter the “square” on the computer screen, we need to find new ways to create a rich audience experience. 

Every virtual meeting, sale, presentation or workshop has to turn into an interactive experience. How? Visual and auditory gimmicks, props, questions, activities, the rhythm of our speech, humor, music, games, technological effects, surprising screens — all of these are only part of the many possibilities we have. 

The richer the participants’ experience, the more they will be open to accept our ideas and remember them for a long time.

4. Get the most out of your upper body language.

One of the main challenges that TED Talk speakers have to deal with is restricting their body language and movement to fit the red rug’s size. 

That’s why their primary non-verbal communication focuses on upper body language, such as facial expressions, smiles, a glint in the eyes, hand movements and eye contact with the audience.

With the transfer to remote communication and entering into “the cube” of Zoom, we also lose a large part of our body language. However, like TED speakers, we can keep our listeners’ attention by getting the most out of our upper body language by using various facial expressions and hand movements that support our remote messaging. 

Next time you prepare yourself for a virtual meeting, remember how TED Talk speakers convey messages powerfully.

Pay attention to your message’s focus and precision, and avoid any unimportant details, which might cause your participants to check out and engage in a different activity. Convey your message in a conversational style. Make sure that you are conversing with your listeners and not lecturing to them. In a world where participants are in small squares, get out of the square. Invest in keeping your audience’s attention by creating an interactive experience. Use variety, with frequent small changes and surprises that cause your audience to stay attentive both physically and mentally. Finally, intensify your energy, your message and your participants’ attention with the intentional use of natural and authentic hand movements and smiles.

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December 1, 2020 at 04:37AM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman