Now that TEDGlobal 2009 has drawn to a close and the videos are slowly making their way online, the latestÂ Nature has an editorial on the TED phenomenon, suggesting that “those wishing to reveal scientific ideas should learn from the engaging style of TED conference talks”.
TED succeeds in part because participants are encouraged to talk about the unexpected. [â€¦] But perhaps the most critical key to success is the style of the talks. [â€¦]
The talks have a strict time limit of 18 minutes â€” no interaction with the audience, and no questions except the informal ones asked in the extended conversation breaks. [â€¦] For a general audience, 18 minutes is plenty for getting across context and key issues, while still forcing each speaker to focus on a message â€” whether it be advocacy or the celebration of new knowledge.
There is also a welcome absence of PowerPoint presentations. Instead there are plenty of images â€” but precious few professional scientific diagrams, which can quickly lose the audience’s attention. This forces speakers to craft talks that can engage sophisticated but scientifically untutored listeners at their level. And it also encourages speakers to try for a freely flowing, relaxed presentation style, without notes. [â€¦]
Scientists wishing to inspire non-scientists should look at a few of these talks online and learn a thing or two.
I would go one further: non-scientists wishing to inspire others should look to TED to learn a thing or two.
Learn about the frontiers of human health from seven of Stanford’s most innovative faculty members. Inspired by a format used at the TED Conference, each speaker delivers a highly engaging talk in just 10-20 minutes about his or her research. Learn about Stanford’s newest and most exciting discoveries in neuroscience, bioengineering, brain imaging, psychology, and more.
Not your usual venue for a singles’ night, but I do like this idea.
Anyone hoping to spot a potential partner can pick up a pink badge signalling their romantic intentions at reception. Then they can stroll the aisles looking for a book, DVD, or something – or someone – else that takes their fancy.
“This is a different type of singles evening because it’s not being held in a bar, restaurant or nightclub. It’ll offer many people looking for a partner an environment they’ll be more comfortable with.“
However I do hope that this idea was born with the intention of bringing the public closer to their publicly funded libraries, and as a way to make ‘public space’ and ‘public libraries’ analogous (as opposed to someone’s ‘wacky’ idea!).
LifeHack has just started what I hope will become an informative and useful series entitled Presentation Masterclass, courtesy of Rowan Manahan.
Audiences are so deluged with advertising messages and radio jingles, with phone calls, voicemail, email, SMS and IM, withâ€¦ stuff in their personal lives that unless you, the presenter, are wowing them with every word, you will lose their attention in a matter of seconds.
I am always striving to improve my public speaking and my presentation style, so this series is a welcome addition. I just hope it continues to be as good as the introductory article.
As a starting point, I recommend some detox to clear your body and mind from a lifetime of exposure to sucky presentations. I strongly recommend that you expose yourself to some great presenters:
Have a look at some of the wizards on TED.com â€“ Rives, Hans Rosling, Barnett Thomas, Lawrence Lessig and Ken Robinson all stand out, but there are reams more on this invaluable resource.
Go over to Common Craft and have a look at their â€˜plain Englishâ€™ tutorials on aspects of Web 2.0
The one common theme that emerges from this tremendous diversity of presenters, topics and styles is RESPECT. By every word and deed, they demonstrate absolute respect for both their audiences and themselves.