Presenting Tips from TED, Nancy Duarte, and Forbes

Many business communication courses include—and sometimes conclude—with students giving presentations. Share these pointers from some of the top experts in the field with your students.

From TED Curator Chris Anderson…

Chris Anderson suggests that TED speakers get their message across by using narratives. Although most students won’t be on the TED stage anytime soon, Anderson’s advice can be applied to anyone who has to give a talk.

Unknown1. Frame the story. Humans are hard wired to enjoy stories, and metaphors engage listeners more than facts. However, he urges, don’t tell the long version of the story; focus on one unique aspect instead. Use a narrative structure that mimics a detective story by starting with a problem and continuing by finding the solution.

2. Plan the delivery. Rather than read a script or use a teleprompter, memorize the talk if time allows. Rehearse until the words flow and become second nature. If time doesn’t permit memorizing, use bulleted points on note cards and focus on remembering the transitions between cards.

3. Develop stage presence. Avoid moving too much. Swaying or shifting weight from foot to foot diminishes stage presence. Only walk around the stage if it can be done naturally; most people do best if they remain motionless. Make eye contact with several people in different parts of the room, and don’t be afraid of nerves—they can actually help provide the extra energy needed to pull off a great talk.

4. Plan the multimedia. Keep technology simple. Never repeat words that appear on slides.

From Communication Guru Nancy Duarte…

Author, CEO, and communication guru Nancy Duarte suggests that speakers find the best mix of information and storyspeakertelling for presentations. Most talks lie on a continuum between a report and a story, she explains. On one end are reports, which are heavy with facts, data, and information. On the opposite end are stories, which should be dramatic, evocative, and experiential. Deciding where a speech should fall on the continuum depends on the presentation’s content.

If a talk will focus on research findings, Duarte suggests sending out a report beforehand and leaving the presentation to key takeaways. For financial presentations, she recommends combining factsthe audience will expect with narrative to appeal to listeners’ emotions. Finally, if giving a keynote address, Duarte advises that speakersuse a story to frame a larger purpose.

From Forbes Contributor Nick Morgan…

Nick Morgan, a contributor to Forbes and author of Give Your Speech, Change the World offers these presentation pointers.

1. Talk to the back of the room. It’s tempting to focus on people in the front rows, but doing so will make those in the back half feel excluded.

2. Limit “fake” audience interaction. It’s futile to encourage interaction with large audiences. People feel intimidated to participate no matter what the speaker does. However, it’s OK to ask for a show of hands as a warm up.

3. Don’t try to be funny. Comedians take months to hone one joke. A speaker needs to instruct and teach rather thanwork on eliciting laughs.

4. Dress like a star. Speakers should set themselves apart from the audience. Dressing down just means the speaker will have to work harder to receive even mediocre reviews.

5. Avoid Q & A. After prepping for a formal talk, why suddenly turn things over to chance with a Q & A?

Sources: Anderson, C. (2013, June). How to give a killer presentation. Harvard Business Review, 121. Morgan, N. (2014, March 25). Five quick speaker success secrets. Retrieved from Morgan, N. (2014, March 27). Five more quick speaker success secrets. Retrieved from




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