Why do you think TED Talks are so popular? Their “ideas worth spreading” tagline embodies the exact definition of meaningful. And, as a result, TED Talks are just that: meaningful.
What you have to say–your message–is already meaningful. Your task is to transfer the weight of that message to your audience. You want them to feel how important what you’re saying really is.
How exactly do you show the meaning in your message? Any meaningful presentation nails these three important aspects:
1. DON’T REGURGITATE.
Regurgitating anything is disgusting–which is why you shouldn’t just regurgitate facts at your audience.
Besides appreciating the lack of statistical vomit, they might actually learn something and walk away from your talk with a handle on what you’re really saying.
Studies have shown that rote memorization gets in the way of actual learning. People remember what they understand, and they understand concepts, not meaningless statistics and numbers.
Remember, the goal of any great presentation isn’t just to inform. Instead, the best presentations strive to take the audience on a journey that will change their perception of the world, show what is possible or provide new solutions to old problems.
But if you can’t just throw up charts and graphs, how do you deliver your information?
2. ADD SOME SOUL.
Brene Brown’s TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” includes a moving and wise observation. Brown muses that “maybe stories are just data with a soul.”
And if you think about it, she’s right. After all, any good story explains things and explanations require facts, but the story is the humanizing element.
“The Power of Vulnerability”
Neuroscientists have also found that stories cause our brains to release oxytocin. What does that oxytocin do for you and your audience? It makes your audience feel trust and empathy for you, the deliverer of the tale.
As for you, oxytocin allows you to leave your audience with a positive feeling attached to your message. And memories form more strongly when emotion is attached to them.
3. HAVE A CONVERSATION, NOT A DISSERTATION.
We’ve talked about it before, but it’s always worth repeating: Bullets. Kill. Presentations.
When you step in front of your audience, your goal is not to lecture to them until they fall asleep. Approach a presentation like a conversation, in which you’re answering the audience’s unspoken questions.
Bullet points are just another form of information dumping and wreck whatever engaging narrative you could have created. Replace bullets with high impact visuals that support the story you’re telling and the feeling you want to invoke in your audience.
As the great Maya Angelou famously said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did: they will remember how you made them feel.”
Don’t let your audience feeling nothing–or worse, negatively. Weave a story, and let them feel the gravity of your message. You have one chance to take them on a journey–make it count.
“At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did: they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Why do some speakers make waves while others end up as just a blip on the radar? The most memorable speeches spur conversations or controversies–they evoke outrage or awe.
No matter the emotion, great speeches all share one thing: an idea that matters both to them and to their audiences.
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