Here's What My TEDx Taught Me

communication presentations tedx
What My TEDx Taught Me

It was the best 13 minutes of my professional career… standing there on the red circle of the TEDx stage and sharing my thoughts and ideas on how to cooperatively negotiate using the words “Yes, If.”

I felt free, inspired, joyful, and even though I couldn’t see the audience - because of the bright lights in the theater - I knew they were there and were connecting with my ideas.

As I wrapped up my 13-minutes on stage, I absorbed the applause for an extra moment, walked off stage right, removed the mic, and took a deep breathe. I thought to myself, “I did it.” I checked off a career goal and forever would be able to say I’m a TEDx Talker.

My TEDx journey helped me become a better presenter. Here are the BIG 3 lessons I learned that I use today in each of my presentations.

FIRST Learning…

TED taught me the audience can only listen to one speaker for 18-minutes before it becomes distracted and loses interest. Thus, unless you’re Bill Gates, you won’t see many TED Talkers speak for more than 18 minutes. 

The first time I rehearsed in front of the TED organizers I stopped the clock at 17-minutes. The organizers responded with clear direction, “Cut it down. Less is more.” I took their advice and tightened it up to 13-minutes… Very consumable, and it made it easier for me too deliver. Less was more!

Today, I use the 18-minute to ensure I break up my presentations and speeches into digestible segments. Even though I may be on stage for 2+ hours I break it down into digestible segments that are less than 18-minutes. 

You ask how I do it? It’s simple, every time I change the “voice” of the presentation I get a fresh new 18-minutes. Here’s how I add a new voice to my longer-format presentations…

  • I add a video. Voice in video resets the clock.
  • I ask the audience questions. Audience voice resets the clock.
  • Team exercise. Many voices in the room engaging one another resets the clock.

The 18-minute rule doesn’t require your presentation is less than 18-minutes in length. Rather, before the 18-minute shot clock expires, a “new voice” needs to be heard. When I welcome a new voice into my presentation I also renew my 18-minute clock. That’s why a video clip works well. It draws the audience to the new voice, refreshers their interest, and when it’s my turn again they are ready-to-go.

SECOND Learning…

We don’t need slides to be an effective presenters. I shared my TEDx Talk without slides. It felt great and liberating. It was just me up there. The audience would not be distracted and my voice remained the star of the show. 

When it comes to slides, I believe less is more. When you need them, keep it simple. Can a picture replace words? Can you present without slides?

When I use slides they serve as my speaker’s outline. I see the image or slide and I know what I need to talk about. This is helpful. 

I need more time to prepare when I share without slides. Without visual prompts on the slides, I rely on the outline I have in my mind. Though it takes more time, the benefits are massive. 

  1. The slide-less presentation is often more authentic.
  2. The audience bonds directly with the presenter without any slide distractions. The eyes of the audience are set on the speaker throughout the entirety of the presentation.

Give it a try without slides. Practice until you feel comfortable, and put your voice in the center of presentation greatness.

THIRD Learning…

Finally, a TEDx presentation is an opportunity to share a magical story. I shared the story of “Yes, If” negotiations. I gave examples from business, from my personal life, and shared how my kids have learned to use cooperative negotiation skills (which as a Dad I regret at times.)

Telling stories is a masterful presentation skill. Stories connect with the heart while information connects to the brain. You’ll be remembered for the stories you share.

Remember, presentation stories require practice. Without rehearsal, stories can run-on, take too much time, and wander when not rehearsed and practiced. Here’s a three step plan to incorporate effective stories into your next presentation:

  1. Find the right story - there’s always a story for any presentation.
  2. Speak the story out loud in rehearsal. Speak your story to find the right pace, timing, and impact lines.
  3. Deliver the story in your presentation and evaluate its effectiveness. A great story ought to be used multiple times and becomes an effective tool your presentation tool belt. Ask yourself, “Did it work?” “Did the story move the audience?” “What do I need to change next time?”

TED pushed me to present with stories, and I’ve never left the practice.

It’s an amazing feeling to give a great presentation. The connection, the gratitude, and the praise fills the motivation bucket to the very highest. 

Keep working on your skills and give the three TEDx best practices a try. I’m excited for you to thrive through powerful presentation skills.

Subscribe to The Monday Mojo Skill Surge Newsletter

Join our mailing list for the latest news and updates that will lift your skills and confidence.

Reminder, we will never sell your information, for any reason.