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What I Learned From Doing A TEDx Talk

Peter Kozodoy logo Posted Friday June 05th, 2020 What I Learned From Doing A TEDx Talk

Last year I was honored to do my first TEDx Talk right outside Washington DC.

I was one of 8 speakers selected to speak from the red carpet in front of those iconic red letters...and it was scary, exhilarating, and FUN!

It took me 3 years of developing my topic, researching, writing, and practicing to get to that point...yes, I mean years.

Which brings me to the top 3 lessons I learned once it was all over...

  1. Being an expert was only half the battle. All of the speakers were experts...but the audience reacted to some talks more than others. Sitting through the speakers, it became clear that the best ones were entertainers as well as experts. They had a way of bringing their topic to life, using their entire body, facial expressions, and vocal intonation to take the audience on an exciting journey. The best talks were about BOTH educating AND entertaining, and it made a huge difference in the impression the talk made on the audience.
  2. Mixing stories with facts gave the biggest impact. Some speakers told amazing stories. Others had all the data to back up their claims. But the best speakers blended stories with facts...convincing us of their point emotionally and then underpinning their point with the facts our brains need to fully accept what was being said. When speakers mixed stories and facts together like that, it was a one-two punch that couldn't be ignored. Definitely a sales technique in disguise!
  3. There is no such thing as too much preparation. We did a full dress rehearsal the night before, and I delivered a great run. I was a bit nervous...but not as nervous as I was the next day when we were on for real. The lights, the audience staring at me, and the 3 cameras all bore down on me...and I found my mind racing throughout my performance. It went by quickly, and I didn't stumble once...but that's ONLY because I had rehearsed the talk 3-5 times a day for a whole week. If I hadn't prepared like that, if I hadn't known that talk forwards and backwards, I would have absolutely blown it. Thank goodness my training held me up while those nerves took hold!
All of these lessons have correlations in your business. You can't just wow people with your expertise -- you also have to entertain them and be likable. You can't just tell stories, or rattle off facts -- you have to speak to both the emotional and cognitive sides of the brain in order to make your point. And you can't just wing it -- nothing beats great preparation. NOTHING.

In the meantime, ask yourself: If you had to do a TEDx Talk, what would it be about?