Any tips on giving a talk? 🙏

This is one of my all time favourite TED talks. I recommend watching it. Hope it helps, and good luck!

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And after your talk, learn how to relax with Julian Treasure’s sister, Mary Brazzle.

Don’t read out word for word what is on your slides, people can read it themselves

Oooh I’ve done quite a few “all hands” and similar styles of things in my job. So much so we run internal training courses on the concept of “telling stories” (very good fun).

I think a lot is adapted from one or two ted talks posted but some useful tidbits for me.

  1. Think about what you want your audience to understand - both these signs tell a story but one tells it better.

One is professionally/formally written, the other less so - but one gives a clearer intent to the reader
  1. think about “Know Feel Do”, when preparing your chat. There’s a great example of this in Stephen Elop’s “Burning Platform” internal memo - it tells a great story + has a clear call to action

Stephen Elop's 'Burning Platform'

*“There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.”

They’d be my top 2 tidbits - but I have more:

Even more points hidden here

2 but again) Do a double act between you and your slides/content.

  • Don’t write what you want people to undersand, say it.
  • Summarise the tricky bits with your slides as you go.
  • Use slides for humour too
  • But don’t give the audience too much to read
  1. Less is more.
  • If the message is more than one line, it needs more than one slide.
  • Think about Ernest Hemingway’s famous 6 word story; “For Sale, Baby Shoes; Never Worn”. Less is more.
  1. Think about the story in a “Somebody Wants But So” structure - you’ll see this all the time in book writing - but a good talk/story will often speak/present in a similar way - and it makes for a compelling hook.
Somebody Wants But So
Juliet to marry Romeo Romeo’s family is an enemy of Juliets They married in secret I think I never really paid attention in English class
Monzo to enter the BNPL space They’ve never done lending in this way They are rolling out the product gradually
@britishlibrary to solve a really hard problem at work He’s procrastinating This post got written.

And Finally,

  1. Structure - if you watch any decent Ted Talk you’ll see a common theme appear in how the talks are done:

Big Idea
Theme(s) 1/2/3 (emotion or fact)
Loop Back to the Big Idea.

I’ve not watched the talk above but I bet it hits the same structural points

Sorry this post became “a lot” - really just to articulate a few things I’ve picked up amongst the years of doing internal talks / sell ins / All Hands etc. Hope there’s a nugget that’s useful.

anyway I should get back to work -


Feeling anxious about this is incredibly normal!

What helps me is shifting my focus from my own thoughts and anxieties to what’s happening in the room. If I worry about X, Y, Z, I know I’m being self-conscious so I try to stay focused on my presentation and the room yet again.
Practice the presentation in front of your laptop playing on something on Netflix and talk to the actors/characters. It’s harder than it sounds but prepares you for the actual thing!

I remember the first time I ever gave a talk to an audience of about 20 people I felt so light-headed halfway I felt like I was going to throw up in front of everyone. My voice started sounding shaky and I probably looked like I was going to cry.

Just make sure you are prepared, that you are confident you know what you’re talking about. Instead of memorising a speech, just make a flow and keep practicing. My ease with public speaking only came with more experience and when I became more confident with my area of expertise. I also started to treat the audience as “friends” I’m having a nice chat with. Also don’t be too self conscious, many people won’t really observe small stuff.

A speaker I know does some push ups just before the talk to release the tension. I take some deep breaths! Good luck

Thanks everyone!! It went great!!! 40 people attended :smiley:


How many fell asleep?

Congrats :tada: