Speaking of TED Talks

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Talking like TED - will we all try to be like them?

I have watch many TED Talks, obviously I am a fan of the platform, they are all people speaking and making presentations.  It would be fair to say its my primary source of video content consumption. It alone makes me aspire to make Vloggs and videos. It has made me realise that its not only me that has discovered they can speak in front of a huge audience if they put in the practice and have a great message, or in TED terms " an idea worth spreading". ( see www.tedtalks.com )

I have two books about how to speak like a TED Talker, the secrets of these talks and the other aspects that make watching them so easy.  I have absorbed them and like so many others thought they were the pinnacle of presentations.  They are in most instances a form of therapy as well.  All the speakers have a message of hope, discovery, inspiration or enlightenment; they go beyond entertainment.  I don't go to church (often) but they remind me of the feeling I once had when I did go.  That there is good in the human race and that we can all improve and do better.  TED Talks have possibly made many people more thoughtful, understanding, tolerant and better citizens of the world.

I have used TED Talks as workshop home work.  Participants are  requested/ suggested/ recommended to watch a few of my favourites to reinforce the workshop material, to illustrate the technique or just to plain prove that it was an incredibly well educated person (usually from the USA) that came up with this crazy theory that I have just told them.

My fear is that all TED Talkers will ( or maybe are already ) start to sound and look the same. That the magic formula will infact take away the individuals personality and quirks. That somehow that by being up to TED standard they will loose themselves. Even worse is that I fear people will start to expect this of others, You, Me, even the next President. That I will have to train people, not to be the best version of themselves but a TED version of themselves.

Finding your own voice, and being the best version of yourself, being true to yourself, in language and body language is essential. If this dose not match the TED version is there a problem, or are we just not there yet.? And do we even want to go there? For some I believe it is a worthy goal, not a destination. For others they won't ever, nor ever should they fit the mould.

But “buyer beware” presentation styles could change.

Ultimately public speaking styles change over time. Orators of today are markedly different from those of say the early 1940s. So we are likely to change and develop from the current trend of Talking like a TED. For now I don’t think TED Talks are taking over the world. But it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if they did. I do say to clients that they are a great examples of the current trend in presentation style, they have some very good examples of how to articulate ideas and engage audiences, and at the very least can make us all better citizens of the world.

Diana Thomson

SpeechMarks Coaching, Auckland