“Ideas are the true currency of the 21st Century,” writes public speaking coach and author Carmine Gallo. “So in order to succeed, you need to be able to sell your ideas and yourself persuasively. That ability is the greatest skill that will help you accomplish your business dreams.”
To provide the tools to develop robust presentations and deliver captivating lectures, Gallo examined hundreds of TED Talks and interviewed TED presenters and top researchers in numerous fields. The outcome is expert advice on producing memorable business presentations and meetings. Below are some of Gallo’s expert tips for inspiring any audience:
Let the Passion Flow: There is no question that passion is contagious, but you can’t inspire others unless you are inspired. As a result, it is vital to continuously express enthusiasm and passion for your ideas. Identify your connection to the topic and inspire listeners with this meaningful connection.
Master the Art of Storytelling: Because stories stimulate and engage the human brain, storytellers must tell stories that touch the hearts and minds of listeners, as well as consistently express passion and inspire.
In fact, public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson delivered a 2012 Ted Talk, titled “We Need to Talk about an Injustice,” which received the longest standing ovation in TED Talk history. Not only did he spend a majority of his speech sharing heartfelt stories, but he also welcomed his grandmother and Rosa Parks onstage to share their personal stories.
Consider your Conversations with Friends and Family: Only after creating an emotional connection, building rapport, and gaining trust, can you practice true persuasion. In order to achieve this, your presentation or meeting should feel relaxed, similar to having a discussion with a friend or family member. Consistent practice and internalizing the content are two ways to create this conversation.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Laughter: Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that laughter not only relieves stress and increases endorphins, but laughter also improves the immune system, relieves pain, enhances mood, and decreases depression and anxiety. In addition, laughter can help charm your listeners because humor makes you more likable, which in turn, makes others more willing to do business with you. Humor also brings people closer together, offers a new perspective, helps reframe a problem, reduces tension and cortisol, stimulates circulation and muscle relaxation, increases resilience, and improves one’s immune system. Now that’s a clear win-win for everybody.
Don’t forget about the 18-Minute Rule: Nobody likes to listen to long, overloaded, and meandering presentations. Instead, you need to inform, while also holding people’s attention. So what’s the best length? The simple answer is 18 minutes. According to TED Talks curator Chris Anderson, “Eighteen minutes is short enough to hold people’s attention, including on the Internet, and precise enough to be taken seriously. But it’s also long enough to say something that matters.”
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A short lecture also wards off “cognitive backlog,” which resembles information that weighs you down. For example, a 10-minute presentation produces a small amount of cognitive backlog. However, a 40-minute presentation presents a great deal of information, which tends to produce a large amount of cognitive backlog. This, in turn, forces your audience to stop listening.
In addition to cognitive backlog, boredom and short attention spans will cause your audience to seek out other stimulation. While your lecture may be fascinating and captivating, the bottom line is that human beings get bored quite easily.
While some may question whether 18 minutes is long enough to deliver a strong, meaningful message, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, on September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered an 18-minute speech to a very large crowd at Rice University Stadium in Houston, Texas. The purpose of Kennedy’s famous speech was to inform the public about his detailed plan to land a man on the moon before the year 1970.
In just 18 minutes, President Kennedy successfully characterized space as a new frontier, invoking the pioneer spirit that dominated American folklore. He infused the speech with a sense of urgency and destiny, and emphasized the freedom enjoyed by Americans to choose their destiny – rather than have it chosen for them: “We choose to go to the moon,” he explained. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
According to Gallo, ideas can change the direction of your life and potentially change the world. “You don’t need luck to be an inspiring speaker,” he writes. “You need courage—the courage to follow your passion, articulate your ideas simply and express what makes your heart sing.”
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