Adonis Diaries

A persuasive presentation? What kinds of feedbacks are you expecting and from whom?

Posted on: May 25, 2017

How persuasive is your presentation? What kinds of feedbacks are you expecting and from whom?

Stepping onto the TED or TEDx stage — or speaking in front of any group of people, for that matter — is truly nerve-wracking.

Will you remember everything you wanted to say, or get so discombobulated that you skip over major points?

Will the audience be receptive to your ideas, or will you notice a guy in row three nodding off to sleep?

A Q&A with Nancy Duarte

Posted by: October 31, 2012

Presentation expert Nancy Duarte, who gave the TED Talk “The secret structure of great talks,” has built her career helping people express their ideas in presentations.

The author of Slide:ology and Resonate, Duarte has just released a new book through the Harvard Business Review: The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.

The TED Blog talked with Duarte in her California office about what makes a killer presentation, as well as about how giving her own TED Talk shaped her thoughts on presenting.

What would you say are the three keys to giving a great presentation?

The number one thing is to be audience-centric. To take the time to think through who the audience is and develop all your material from a place of empathy toward them. You’re asking them to adopt your idea, which means they may have to abandon a belief they hold as true — and that’s hard. So, know your audience — take a walk in their shoes. What keeps them up at night? How are they wired to resist your message?

Most presenters are consumed with preparing their content rapidly, which makes the material about their own narrow perspective. By flipping that paradigm to an audience-centric approach, your material will resonate and the audience can feel a deeper connection to you and your material.

Number two, you need to understand your role in the presentation. So many people feel like they’re the central figure — kind of like the hero of the story — because they’re the one talking the most. But in reality, your role is that of a mentor — you should be giving the audience a magical gift or a special tool, or helping them get unstuck in some way. You have to defer to your audience.

When you put your idea out there for an audience to contend with — if they reject your idea, your idea will die. You have to think of it as, “The speaker needs the audience more than the audience needs the speaker.” Then you’ll start to approach a material with your audience in mind – you’ll have more of a stance of humility than one of arrogance. That will help you create the kind of movement needed to get your idea to spread.

And then the third thing wrap your content in story. A story serves like the sugarcoating on the outside of a pill in some ways — it just makes it go down easier. If you look at preliterate generations for thousands and thousands of years, stories would pass down for generation after generation after generation — and stay almost completely intact.

Yet, a lot of people can’t remember the last presentation they sat through. So, using principles of story — the tension and release that happens in a story — that’s what will help persuade the audience toward your idea.

What do you feel like you learned from giving your own TED Talk?

Being the “Presentation Lady,” I knew I couldn’t suck at it. The hardest part was getting [my talk] to fit within this finite amount of time. So I trimmed and trimmed, keeping in mind that you still have to nail why this is important to the audience. I had a person coach me and point out places where I could trim. “You took too long here, and that made this part of emphasis too long.”

I worked with the timer counting up until I knew I was within the time window — then what I did was work with the timer counting down so I’d know, “When I’m a fourth of the way through, I should be on this slide. When I’m halfway through, I need to be on this slide.”

I created markers in my mind so I would know how I was running on time. Sure enough, I finished the talk and I had six seconds left on the clock.

It was a great experience for me because I hadn’t gone through it myself. I’d coached people through it but — wow — to actually be a victim was interesting. I learned the power of rehearsing. If you rehearse really, really, really well — it looks improvisational.

Some people rehearse to a point where they’re robotic, and they sound like they have memorized their presentation and didn’t take it to the next level. Going from sounding memorized and canned to sounding natural is a lot of work.

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