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5 TED Talks to Help You Better Communicate & Change the World

November 15    |    Heather Muir

There’s simply no getting around it: Being able to communicate clearly and with relative ease is essential to your success.

The problem? The fear is real.

As social animals, we worry about what others will think of us.
— “Will I embarrass myself?”
— “Will they think my ideas are dumb?”
— “Will they hate the way I speak?”
— “Will I get it all wrong and lose the deal or that promotion?”

I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who, without hesitation or studied practice, said to themselves: “Wow, I love public speaking.”

But I do know quite a few who’ve grown to embrace public speaking, or presenting, as fundamental to their growth and happiness.

The truth is that strong and engaging speakers are powerful people.
When you’re able to persuasively share your ideas with confidence and conviction, you can make change happen. You can influence people’s thoughts, decisions, and actions for the better.

That’s why this week, I thought I’d share 5 of my favorite TED Talks to help you tame your fear and improve your presentation skills.

Because sometimes the only thing standing in the way of making your voice heard, or even of changing the world, is fear that you’ll be judged. (Well, maybe not the only thing—building the right skills helps too.)

That’s why I hope you’ll be inspired by—and find helpful tips in—these TED Talks.

I guarantee you’ll be entertained. But more than that, I hope you’ll feel empowered to become the speaker or change agent you were meant to be.

TED’s Secret to Great Public Speaking

Want to learn the secret formula for TED Talk success? TED founder Chris Anderson won’t tell you. He says the use of any single device, such as “divulge a personal secret,” is clichéd. But there's one thing Chris says all great TED Talks do have in common: They build an idea inside listeners’ minds. Watch the video to learn the 4 things you must do in order for your idea or presentation to take hold in the minds of your audience. The big lesson: Focus on one idea worth sharing and caring about—and never leave your audience behind.

How I Beat Stage Fright

Joe Kowan is a singer-songwriter who almost didn’t pursue his passion for music publicly because his nervous system kept hijacking him at open mic night. Listen to his humorous take on how he overcame stage fright by embracing it and giving his audience permission to do the same. The lesson: Perspective, authenticity, and practice can mean the difference between a shaky voice and a strong one.

This Is Your Brain on Communication

What’s the hidden neural mechanism by which we all communicate? Watch neuroscientist and Princeton researcher Uri Hasson talk about his discovery that the desire to couple our brains to other people’s brains (i.e., to connect) is innate. But for that connection to happen, you must find common ground. If you don’t? The exact same presentation could be understood by different audiences in very different ways. The lesson: Align with your audience. Engage in dialogue. Find familiar and relatable ways to communicate with people who may be different than you.

10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation

Radio host Celeste Headlee makes her living talking to people. She believes “conversational competence” may be the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach—and it shows in the increasingly polarized society we live in. Watch her candid and funny talk about 10 basic rules for having meaningful and engaging conversations. The lesson: You can have conversations that don’t waste time, bore people, or offend them. Keep your mind open, your mouth shut (at least more than the other person), and be genuinely interested in other people.

Talk Nerdy to Me

Engineers. Scientists. Financial analysts. Technical professionals. We are fascinated by you and your work! But wait, here’s the thing: We have to be able to understand you. There was no way I wasn’t going to put Melissa Marshall’s 4-minute TED Talk on this list. The lesson: Science can be sexy, if you know how to communicate it. Ditch the jargon, tell a story, make it relevant, and amp up the passion.

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Mandel is the global communication skills training company for organizations that believe in unleashing the power and potential of their employees. As proven experts in the science of communication in a complex world, we help companies around the world discover new ways to help their people think and speak more effectively, and make every communication count.
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