How to Talk and Be Remembered at TED (and Everywhere Else) in 4 Easy Steps

Jeff Davis of Speak Clear Communications helps TEDx presenters to take their talks (and ours) to the next level.

We think everyone with something to say — at work, at school, at the PTO — should be able to command a room.

To help us attain this standard, we’ve invitedJeff Davis of Speak Clear Communications to take our presentation skills to the next level. A speech coach based in New York and New Jersey, Davis has been helping individuals find their best voices for almost a decade.                        

What advice does he have for those who ascend the stage?

“Most of the time, speeches aren’t playful,” he said. “Very often, presenters don’t understand that they have an obligation to entertain.” 

However, the best ones do — and Davis said they make their speech hit home by incorporating elements of P.L.A.Y.:

1. Practice playfully

Reciting in front of a mirror may not be the most effective method for practicing a speech. Instead, merging these rehearsals with your daily activities can bring a playful element to both. Davis suggests running through your speech while doing housework, preparing dinner or shooting hoops on the driveway.

“We’re putting the speech into the realm of play itself,” he said.

 2. Leverage visuals

Showcasing an endless PowerPoint doesn’t count as “leveraging.” Davis said the leading rule for presenting visuals isn’t a difficult one: Just keep it simple.

Instead of crowding each slide with information, focus on main points and a few statistics. Incorporate effective design elements such as full-bleed layouts and strong color schemes. To bring motion to your presentation, Davis suggests using Prezi, a cloud-based software that allows users to create “zooming” displays.

 3. Attention-getters are key

The rule of first impressions and their lasting impact doesn’t only apply to cocktail parties and business meetings.

“Attention-getters bring the audience into the speech immediately,” Davis said.

 In order to seize the audience’s attention, speakers can use a jarring statistic, tell a short joke or make a dramatic comparison.

 4. Yield to Improvisation

 In a day and age where a cellphone is never more than a few inches away, it remains important — and increasingly difficult — to sustain an audience’s attention. By bringing the concept of improvisation to your presentation, you turn the speech into a conversation.

“When you improvise, you engage the audience emotionally and directly,” Davis said.

Davis said the most important thing to remember is this: When it comes to integrating play into a speech, it’s not just about the speaker. The audience wants to play, as well. 

 “The point is to have fun,” he said. “When we’re connecting with a speaker who understands that, it’s a wonderful experience.”

For more information on Speak Clear Communications, visit its website. To connect with Davis, check out his personal and business Facebook pages, Twitter and Linkedin.

Join us May 10 at Two River Theater in Red Bank at TEDxNavesink 2014: PLAY  We’re hosting 24 presenters who harness the positive power of play every day in technology, education, design and more. Limited tickets available for this all day event, which includes catered lunch, networking opportunities and evening reception. Click here to get your ticket.

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