The TED format in a company!

Who hasn’t heard of TED Talks?  It’s hard to imagine, since the format has become so popular and is now on everyone’s lips. It must be said that most of the time the subjects are very exciting, and the speakers are often brilliant.  Created in 1984, the aim of this conference format is to share ideas that are worth spreading. And lectures are available for free online so that the whole world can be informed and inspired.

We regularly remind you about the need to build your remarks so that your audience can assimilate them and reuse them in turn. It is the key that allows your ideas to be remembered. When you consider that the person listening to you is potentially a future ambassador of your idea, you will always be more invested and committed than if you limit yourself to just informing your audience.  The TED Talks are designed, by definition, so that we want to talk about a subject. And this is certainly what gives this format its exemplary character.

But remember that a TED Talk is only a speaking format. It does not guarantee success, or a stronger impact than the speech itself.  It is not because you ask your colleagues to present standing up for a maximum of 18 min, and to begin with an anecdote, that you will promote the dissemination of ideas and projects.  Even if this format is extremely powerful, the impact of presentations comes more from the talent and know-how of the speaker than from the format itself.

The only real constraint of a TED Talk is to not exceed 18 minutes. Considered the average attention span, this time limit is optimal to ensure that your message is well received. The guest speakers are also advised to use a well-proven structure:

  1. Start by making your audiences care, using a relatable example or an intriguing idea
  2. Explain your idea clearly and with conviction
  3. Describe your evidence and how and why your idea could be implemented
  4. End by addressing how your idea could affect your audience if they were to accept it.

TED conferences are exemplary in both substance and form, to capture attention, create interest and make an impact. But there is also a main obstacle to implementing this format in companies. If perchance the idea presented bothers, offends, or goes against your experience or opinion, or causes any form of resistance… at best you’ll forget this speech and move on to something else.

In a company, this is not satisfactory. Taking the resistance, fear and resentment of those listening to you into account is essential if you want your ideas to be heard. Your speeches are not intended just to share a universalistic thought. They aim to encourage the support and commitment of teams, to the change that your idea will bring about.

Another strong attribute of the TED format, which could be counterproductive in a company, is the “show” factor. A narrative framework is clearly the most effective in capturing attention and ensuring that your key messages are remembered.  But the use of storytelling doesn’t mean that your responsibility is to entertain or impress people by putting on a show! In fact it is a pitfall for those who are too comfortable with speaking. By favoring this type of presentation, you may give the audience a role that it shouldn’t have: that of spectator.  On the contrary, by inspiring your audience, by creating desire, by removing any resistance that it could legitimately feel, your role as a speaker is to help your audience find its place in the story you’re telling.

TED Talks are a gold mine in helping you build your presentations. But remember that even if an audience is often scary, it holds what your idea needs, in order to be implemented: intelligence, experience and desire.