close up on microphone in presentation room
From keeping things simple to making authentic connections, there are several ways to make sure your subject matter expertise engages your audience during your TED Talk. — Getty Images/smolaw11

Being invited to give a TED Talk is validating proof that you are an expert in your field and offer an engaging perspective to others. Those professionals chosen to deliver TED Talks seem to possess great communication and public speaking skills. However, this doesn't come naturally for everyone. You shouldn't shy away from TED Talks just because you experience stage fright or don't feel confident in front of a crowd.

To help you make the best impression on your audience, here are some tips for delivering a TED Talk.

[Read: 4 Must-Watch TED Talks For Any Aspiring Social Entrepreneur]

Keep it simple

The audience at your TED Talk is likely new to or only vaguely familiar with the subject you’re presenting. As an expert in your field, you may have forgotten what it’s like to not know anything about your work. When writing your presentation, stick to the basics of your topic and write it in a language as if you’re explaining the subject to someone with a fifth-grade education. By sticking to the main and surface-level points, you’ll make your audience feel as if they’re learning something new and make them want to learn more about your subject.

Make an authentic connection

When giving a TED Talk or any type of presentation, it’s important to develop a connection with the audience rather than coming across as abstract or a know-it-all. Your audience is there to learn something. Think about your subject and ask yourself: “Why would someone want to know this? How will this information change their life?” Frame your presentation in a way that will resonate with who you’re presenting to, not just sharing what you know to share it.

Tell a story

You’ll lose your audience pretty quickly if you’re just telling them facts. Present your research and information in a narrative setting. This will make it more relatable to your audience and keep them invested on a personal level.

Before you go on stage, take a deep breath to ground yourself and, when you’re talking on stage, remember to slow down.

Use visuals

Most people don’t strictly learn from listening. They need visualization through pictures, music and video to help reinforce a point. While you may be concerned that stopping your presentation to show a video or listen to music may disrupt the flow of it, think of how it can enhance your overall seminar. Having pictures or slides behind you as you talk also can bring your point home.

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Run through the set up

TED Talks and other presentation-based conferences typically have a sound check for presenters to run through their talk and their materials before the main show. Get to know the stage you’ll be presenting on, how you’ll enter and exit, and what the audio and video set up is like. Once you deliver a practice speech on stage, ask if you can click through your visual materials from the audience so you can see what it looks like from their perspective and test that everything is showing up and sounds as it should.

Slow down

If you’re not a fan of public speaking, you might find yourself unintentionally rushing through your presentation. Before you go on stage, take a deep breath to ground yourself and, when you’re talking on stage, remember to slow down. Even if everything sounds normal in your head, chances are you’re talking too fast and can go a bit slower. Remember, all this information is familiar to you but not your audience. Saying it slower will help it better resonate with them.

[Read: Improving Your Public Speaking]

Open yourself up

Ultimately, how much your speech resonates with your audience depends on how you deliver it. Have open body language, keep your head up and look the audience in the eye, and speak with an enthusiastic and confident tone. It might be helpful to film yourself giving your presentation, reviewing it to see how you might improve your body language. If you look and sound uncertain on stage, your audience won’t believe you as a presenter and will lose interest in what you’re talking about. You’ve been invited to give a TED Talk for a reason — prove it by matching your knowledge of the subject with how you deliver it.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published August 24, 2020