It’s no flash of good luck that TED talks are so successful.
First of all each one has been carefully chosen as someone who has something to say. Secondly, they use language we can all follow. And thirdly, they’re real.
We live in a world of clutter, of massive knowledge overload where our brains have to quickly decide if the information coming at us is worth devoting headspace to. And add another layer to this, where political games are played and hidden agendas disguised as sustainable initiatives are set before us, and it gets pretty busy up there in our heads. Our brains need to sift through information as well as interpret non verbal signals and voice tones. What does it mean? Do they like my work? Want me to stay? Want me to stop? What do I do??
So what a joy it is to take time out, chose a TED talk that interests you, whether it’s science, human rights, technology – whatever - and hear from someone who’s real. No second guessing them or their message – it’s right there in front of you.
TED speakers and most TEDX speakers, have coaches. Experienced people who can give them a huge range of tips and help and make their talks engaging and interesting. You may expect them then to be pretty slick presenters. But hats off to TED speaker coaches because you’ll notice is that while everybody is good, nobody is so overly polished that they lose the very essence of who they are.
TED speakers are real. Loud and excited, calm and serious. Funny and smart. Intense and light hearted.
None of their coaches have tried to turn them into anything they’re not.
Amy Cuddy, in a talk I love (as does 36 million other people) is quite nervous despite being a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School. She’s a little breathy, indicating nerves and she clicks her tongue at the end of sentences. But no one cares. Because she has great content, and she’s real.
Jill Bolte Taylor, one of my favourite, favourite talks is completely her beautiful self. Which is pretty much like no one I know at all.
And watch the Fear of Fat by Kelli Jean Drinkwater from TED X Sydney 2016 for someone who is comfortable in her skin (and makes us just the opposite).
You get the feeling that when these people get off stage, they are exactly the same.
As leaders we strive to be just that. Using language that people understand, speaking when you have something intelligent to say AND being the real, authentic you, makes you a great leader. It means being brave. Being real is not for the faint hearted. But whether you're talking to your team, launching a new product or presenting to the board, keep the very essence of who you are. It cuts through the clutter and builds trust.
Oscar Wilde had a lovely saying which went like this: Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.
Lynne Schinella works with people to develop influential communicators.
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