How to Deliver a TED Talk: Conversation with Jeremey Donovan

Created: Wednesday, December 4, 2013, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 am



Jeremy DonovanJeremey Donovan is Group Vice President of Marketing at Gartner Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company with $1.6 billion in annual revenue. During his career, Jeremey has led successful teams focused on market research, new product development, marketing, acquisitions, and product management. He is a three-time TEDx organizer, a TEDx speaker, a coach for many TED and TEDx speakers, and long-time member of Toastmasters International. His other books include What Great Looks Like and How To Win the Toastmasters World Championship.

In this conversation, Jeremey discusses his book, How To Deliver A TED Talk: Secrets Of The World’s Most Inspiring Presentations.

Geetesh: How is preparing and delivering a TED talk different than any other presentation?

Jeremey: I’ll break my answer into two pieces to compare TED Talks to typical work presentations. Preparing a TED Talk has more similarities than differences with work presentations.

TED Talks begin with formulating an idea worth spreading. I advocate using audience-centric language of the form: To (what/action) so that (why/outcome/benefit). In the TED world, an example is Dan Pallotta‘s “To assess charities on the scale of their dreams, their progress, and their resources so that the not-for-profit sector can play a massive role on behalf of those most desperately in need.” That is a clear, singular, persuasive pitch. This holds at work too; the more precise your pitch the better. There are also similarities in researching your topic and crafting your narrative.

How To Deliver A TED TalkThe differences between TED Talks and work presentations are much more pronounced when it comes to delivery. Most work presentation, even, or perhaps especially, at the executive level, are structured dialogues. In contrast, TED Talks are (up to) 18 minute one-way speeches. I have worked with a number of TED and TEDx speakers who are incredibly powerful communicators. However, they are extremely intimidated by the TED format since two-way interaction is not allowed because it does not work well on video. Another significant difference in delivery lies in the use of slides. Slides for work tend to be text and data intensive whereas slides for TED Talks tend to be more image intensive. It is not that one is better than the other; each design style is suitable for the venue.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your book, “How to Deliver a TED Talk” – and also share some feedback that you have received about this book.

Jeremey: How To Deliver A TED Talk: Secrets Of The World’s Most Inspiring Presentations was actually born when I delivered an educational session on storytelling at my local Toastmasters district conference. I started watching the talks with the intent of finding great examples of story structure. However, as I fell deeper in the the rabbit hole, I discovered so many more techniques that TED speakers used for content, delivery, and design. For instance, I realized that TED Talks come in three main flavors: stories, logic groups, and logic chains. Everyone knows what a story is so I’ll skip that though the book does go into gory detail on story structure. You can spot a logic group when the parts of the speech body could be reordered without affecting the flow. For instance, if Dan Pallotta had one part of his talk on dreams, one on progress, and one on resources. You can spot a logic chain, what Dan actually used, because each part raises a question that is answered in the next part. The most common pattern for logic chains is the “chain of Whys.”

Most people who read the book will never deliver at TED or TEDx Talk. I wrote it for a more general audience. People tell me they read it because it gives them a few tips they can apply to being a more effective and inspiring communicator at work and in personal settings. The topics that I get the most feedback on relate to my guidance on the three best ways to open a talk (since everyone struggles with how to start a speech) and on having an embrace-your-fear, rather than remove-your-fear, mindset.

See Also: How To Win the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking: Conversation with Jeremey Donovan

Categories: books, interviews, presentation_skills

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