How to communicate ideas that will spread


Having been a TED Curator for over 15 years, Chris Anderson must know a thing or two about what makes a great talk. Under his supervision, TED has irrevocably changed our perception of presentations. There is currently a vast library of 2000+ talks available online, all of which have been viewed more than 2.5 billion times, with an increase of 2 million views per day.

Sharing TED’s secret
Mr. Anderson recently posted a special video titled “How to give a great TED talk”. It is the first talk to be filmed in a studio rather than being recorded onstage at a live TED event. In the video, Chris Anderson shares the secret recipe, the magic ingredient, the one thing that all great TED talks have in common. And it’s this:

It’s about an idea
Your number one task as a speaker is to transmit an extraordinary gift into your listeners’ minds, a beautiful object that we call an idea. Ideas are able to permanently change how we think about the world, shaping our actions, current and future. Ideas are the most powerful force shaping human culture.

Make it spread
But here’s the thing: you need to communicate your ideas properly if you want them to spread. Mr. Anderson has 4 powerful pieces of advice for us. Unsurprisingly, they apply as much to a TED talk as to your next business presentation, or any presentation for that matter:

  1. Limit your talk to just one major idea. It sounds intuitive, but reality shows that this is the most difficult step. What is the one idea you want to share? Are you willing to cut all the other good stuff that doesn’t belong to this idea?
  2. Give your audience a reason to care. With so many ideas out there, why should people listen to yours? Curiosity is key here, so stir your audience’s interest. Use intriguing, provocative questions to indicate why something doesn’t make sense and needs explaining. Reveal a disconnection in someone’s worldview.
  3. Build your idea out of concepts familiar to your public. Speak the audience’s language. Use concepts that your listeners already understand. Rely on metaphors to guide them gently into unknown territory.
  4. Make your idea worth sharing. Who does your idea really benefit? If the idea only serves you or your organization, then it’s probably not worth sharing. The audience will see right through you. But if you believe that the idea has the potential to brighten up someone else’s day, change someone else’s perspective for the better, or inspire someone to do something differently, then you have the core ingredient to a truly great talk, one that can be a gift to them and to all of us.



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