Browse Category: story telling

TEDMED Speaker Coach

How to talk like TED? Be likeable

What is the most important factor in giving a successful TED style talk?

Many clients increasingly ask me “How do I talk like TED?” or “I want to talk like TED”. That is often why they come to me – they have read books and blogs and watched the videos but now they are looking to do it themselves and they are looking for a real SpeakerCoach who has actually coached people whose talks have appeared on TEDMED and TED.

These clients understand that storytelling is how we humans are hot-wired to understand the world and that telling stories is the best way to get their message across in a memorable and retellable way. And of, course, TED and TEDMED talks are the benchmarks of short, memorable talks.

TED style talks are sadly not quite fireside chats like our ancestors used to pass on knowledge (Health and Safety regulations have a lot to answer for sometimes!) but these unique talks do have exactly the same cosy, familiar feeling.

I have written before on the most important criteria for getting onto TED or TEDMED – you will not get the platform unless you genuinely have something worth saying.

Today’s featured talk is a TED talk that I often use in my coaching. I have not only coached people whose talks have been shown on TED and TEDMED, I have also watched and researched hundreds and hundreds of TED and TEDMED talks. This talk is one of the best examples of one of the most important characteristics of not just talking like TED but also of how to give one of the more popular viewed TED talks. As I write this, this video has been viewed 1.7 million times – I am sure me and my clients are responsible for …. well a few hundred views at least! 🙂

What makes a good TED talk?

Mark Bezos is a volunteer firefighter and also works at Robin Hood, a poverty-fighting charity in New York City. There are lots of reasons why this TED talk is particularly good and why I use it so often in my coaching.

  1. A good scene-setting and visual introduction.
  2. His status as an “expert witness” is immediately apparent and reinforced by his wearing his firefighter kit.
  3. The use of simple, genuine, non-geeky language which is accessible for all audiences – including people for whom English is a second language.
  4. Well crafted content with a simple story and a simple message: “Small acts matter. Get in the game. Save the shoes.”
  5. Good, but not exaggerated, use of body language and what I call “stagecraft” in my MessageCraft® process.
  6. It is short. Mark tells his story, makes his point and then shuts up. Perfect!

But I want to focus on one aspect of this talk and Mark’s delivery.  Wherever I have shown this talk – in the UK, Lithuania, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Seoul or India – every one I have shown this talk to has commented on the likability of Mark Bezos. Likability is universal. He uses humour – but it is self-deprecating humour. Jokes are risky as hell, especially with audiences from different cultures – never mind different native languages! Mark does “being human” really well. He takes his job and his message seriously but not himself. He is likeable and an expert witness. Enjoy!

I have worked with speakers on talks that have ended on TEDx, TEDMED and TED stages and I am also a TEDMED SpeakerCoach.

Do you want to give better speeches and presentations and to talk like TED? Give me a call and let’s see how I can help? There are a limited number of interesting coaching packages that I offer every year. Maybe you will qualify for one of those?

Lessons on storytelling and campaigning from unlikely places – Dementia Friends

Dem-friendA Guest Blog By Peter Botting staffer Sam Nolan.

It was the first day at Conservative Party conference and there was little to do. The speeches had not yet started and the bar had yet to open. The conference centre had a hushed silence, a feeling of waiting for something to happen. So I found myself marching around the ICC, wasting time and looking for something to do. Flicking through the conference guide developed little inspiration within me – a panel discussion on housing, something titled “Unlocking Community Potential”, a talk about public services in Manchester and a fringe event hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friends.

I shrugged to myself and went along to the Alzheimer’s Society event. I knew shamefully little about Alzheimer’s or dementia, nor had I every had an inclination to look into it and educate myself. I have been fortunate enough to never had to face such issues in my personal life or among my immediate family. Yet on Sunday afternoon at party conference I found myself in a small room with around twenty other people waiting to hear about Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The session was framed as an information event. Expecting to hear a volunteer discuss complex ways in which the disease effects people – I was very surprised.

The speech was astonishing. There was a mix of anecdotes and stories. The complex issue of dealing with dementia was explained in terms which everyone could understand. The complicated disease that effects different people in different ways, with different intensity was boiled down to a simple analogy of a bookshelf. With dementia being seen as a force nudging the bookcase forcing the top books to fall out – those representing the most recent memories. The analogies were not condescending or patronizing with a subtle roll of the eyes to anyone who did not understand dementia.  Instead it was clear and concise.

The presentation incorporated stories of people suffering from the disease. These were not anecdotes but real stories. They were not sob-stories but stories of real people being treated and understood. The stories were not used to get people to donate or volunteer or even to feel sorry for the suffers or thankful to the organisations helping them. The stories were used as they should be – to help regular people understand the point you are making.

Not only were the use of stories and anecdotes impressive but the whole campaign is one to take note of. The charity Dementia Friends have a clear campaign. They have five simple points they want people to understand about dementia and Alzheimer’s. They have a clear and achievable aim: to reach a million people by the end of 2015. And they finished the session with a call-to-action, whether it is telling two people about dementia, promoting the scheme on twitter, signup to volunteer or simply being more patient with somebody who may be suffering from dementia.

It is a very rare phenomenon when you go into a presentation expecting to be bored and come out feeling inspired. Dementia Friends is an incredible example of a campaign done well with a clear message, achievable aims and a call-to-action. Any campaign, whether it is political, corporate or charitable, could learn a lot from the Dementia Friends campaign.

You can find more about the Dementia Friends initiative here.


Interview preparation

Interview Preparation – Using Keywords in your CV

Interview preparation – You have to GET an Interview first

Interview preparation is all very well. But first, you have to GET an interview!!  Many clients come to me saying that they want interview preparation but often ask: “How do I get to interview in the first place?” The ‘paper sift’ is the most extreme – often reducing hundreds of applicants down to a shortlist of may 10 to 20 people. This is also the stage where generally ‘they’ are looking for reasons to exclude rather than include. You should spend at least as much time on your CV and your covering letter as on your preparation for the interview.

What is the best CV format?

There are millions of gurus who claim to have the perfect CV for a format. I don’t think there is one – but it should be clean and simple and easy to read. No use of block capitals for a start! Then it should outline skills and abilities and achievements rather than just listing job titles.

Key words in your CV – are they the secret to getting interviews?

The other thing you should think about when writing your CV is whether you are using the key words relevant to your industry – the jargon and the trigger words – in your CV. These should emphasise your soft and hard skills.

Of course, you first need to know what industry and which type of job you are targeting. Do some research in  existing or old job adverts and identify the works that are being used. Remember functions and skills count as much as titles and positions. Use these key words in your CV, not excessively or unnaturally, but visibly.

You can use these keywords in a headline profile summary as well as in the main body of the CV.

interview preparation questions

Interview Preparation – Another Client gets a Job!

Interview Preparation is the best part of my job

I have worked with a Prime Minister, leading politicians and serious business people. I love working with these people – they are inspirational and motivational and challenging and get me buzzing.

But there is a special buzz when a young graduate phones or texts to say that they have their first proper job. The internships, holiday jobs and endless and emotional job searches, interviews and endless waits for letters that never come, are finally over. New found confidence flows into them, their shoulders relax, their smile loosens. The pressure is over. Now all they have to do is buy an alarm clock, polish their shoes and get used to the routine of working life. It is really very, very good to be part of so many young people’s first “grown up” career success.

Last week a client phoned after he had been through two interview processes with two different companies. We had worked together the week before the two interviews. He was exultant, over the moon, when he called. He had got the job with the second company.

But the story didn’t end there. With the first company, he had made it to the third interview. A third interview that had not been planned or anticipated but he had obviously made the choice sufficiently difficult that a third interview had become necessary. He wasn’t offered that job in the end, but the fact that he had made it to the second and then to the unplanned third round had given him more confidence and an even better sense of self worth.

“My interview was ace. I couldn’t have done that without you!”

Which is the kind of call or text that I love receiving. Find out more about my interview preparation work here.   Have a look at further articles here – including one on telephone interviews and one which outlines my interview training courses designed especially for graduates.  

How to give a compelling speech and not just make noise.

Compelling Speeches Make Points and Get Results. They compel.

  1. Prepare, Practice and then Practice the speech some more.

    Some “experts” say that you should spend 20, 30 or 40 times as much time preparing and practicing your speech, as you spend delivering it. Of course, the more important the speech is, the more time you will be able to budget/justify for the speech – but reading it out loud 7-8 times are an ABSOLUTE minimum. The most important bits of the speech are the beginning and the end – if your time is limited, focus more time on the beginning and the end, even learning them off by heart. This will also help you relax and calm the fear.

  2. Be You, Be Real and Be Authentic.

    Tell personal stories in your speech to underline what you are saying. Parables work – so do personal stories. Remember to only tell the part of the story that the audience needs to “get it” – don’t clutter your stories with unnecessary details, words and phrases. If they don’t have a job, get rid of them.

  3. Take your job seriously – not yourself.

    Self-deprecating humour is not just useful, it is almost mandatory. Ask Boris Johnson. Don’t mock members of the audience, forget jokes as a general rule and be careful of jokes against the opposition.

  4. Know Your Stuff

    If you don’t know why you are giving the speech, what you are talking about or why you are talking about it, why are you even thinking of talking? Know your stuff, know the issues, know the causes, the alternatives, the enemy, the victims and, above all, know the solution.  

  5. What do you want them to do?

    Know what you want. You must be speaking for a reason, either to persuade people or to move people to action. Be specific, make it easy for them and clear about how to do what you want them to do. Political speeches want to convince or activate votes, corporate speeches usually want money. Good political  speechwriters are used to asking for votes and money – as a Conservative speechwriter it is a basic requirement!!  Some call it “deliverables” or, even worse, “required outcomes” – whatever you want to call it, ask for it!

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