Breakfast with Head of TED, Chris Anderson

“We are all Authors of the future”, Chris Anderson, Head of TED

This week, Eventopedia attended ‘Breakfast Time Books with Chris Anderson‘ at the IOD on Pall Mall, which was a short talk and Q&A about Chris Anderson’s new book ‘TED Talks: The Official Guide to Public Speaking’.

What is TED?

I’m must admit, I’m often surprised when I talk with people and refer to an idea, concept or innovation I have watched on TED, and they ask, what is TED? My assumption being that everyone knows what it is, like they do Google, Amazon or Microsoft. For the uninitiated, the official TED website explains:

“A nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

As event professionals, we’re completely in tune with the value of a great speakers who have an idea to share. Indeed, Chris’ mantra, ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, has become synonymous with TED across the globe.

How to be a good public speaker

Chris opened the talk with a revelation;

“I’m actually not a very good public speaker”

We detected a tiny amount of humility, which — by the finish of the talk — rang true. Chris may, like many of us, be uncomfortable or shy about public speaking, but on this evidence, he’s effective, engaging, humorous, and on point. All aspects of a good speaker.

Chris conveyed that a good public speaker doesn’t necessarily need to be charismatic or funny. He advised that it’s important to remember there are multiple approaches for being interesting, so we should relax and find our own unique style, outlining that although there is no one formula, there are a set of tools that help.

Public speaking toolbox

  1. Start Strong
  2. You have up to about a minute to win trust — Allowing strangers into your headspace to plant ideas needs us to open up and trust the speaker.
  3. Show the audience a little of who you are. “Be human”
  4. Tell a Story — Humans are hardwired to connect with stories. Stories can set up your ideas beautifully
  5. Explain — use metaphors. Examples that support your idea help the audience create a mental picture
  6. Persuade — This process often begins with demolition. By showing the implausibility of an existing idea
  7. Rehearse
  8. Talk YOUR way — If you regularly watch TED talks, you’ll see a range of different styles, according to what works for each presenter. You’ll see people using lecterns, walking, jumping, and sitting
  9. Have something worth saying.

Answering a great question from the audience on the curve of fear and excitement in the lead up to a public speaking engagement, and keeping a speaker committed when they reach an extreme level of fear on the curve, Chris outlines that everyone is on a different spectrum of fear when it comes to public speaking, concluding:

“There is only one reason not to speak. Not having something to say.”

Eventopedia’s TED favourites

We are long standing fans of the TED model and talks. Here are a few of our favourites:

  1. Ricardo Semler “How to run a company with (almost) no rules — a highly engaging talk about corporate democracy and an altogether different way of running a business based upon trust and the wisdom of workers. I shared this Talk with a close group of Business School Alumni at an off-site we were conducting for our social impact research initiative and it raised the the slump in energy level for the afternoon session. The power of a good idea can motivate!
  2. Simon Sinek “How great leaders inspire action — Toby and I have kept the central theme and mantra of this talk at the centre of everything we do with Eventopedia. It’s not easy when attention spans are short, but WHY we do what we do is at the very heart of what makes us different, why we are impassioned, and why we exist. The challenge for any growing business, and especially large businesses, is maintaining the understanding of WHY we do what we do across the business.
  3. Sir Ken Robinson “Do schools kill creativity? — This Talk remains THE most popular TED talk of all time and it’s — as with the other highlighted talks — Sir Ken Robinson demonstrates all the attributes of a great public speaker. The talk promotes the creation of an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity, a concept that is very easily transferable to the corporate environment.

Thanks to Chris Anderson and all at the IOD for an engaging and informative start to our Wednesday morning.

For more on Chris’ new book, visit TED

Alan Newton

Founding Partner at Eventopedia.

Originally published at on May 19, 2016.

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