Ted Commandments VIII, IX, & X: Be Entertaining


There’s only one thing worse than being a bore, and that’s being a bore who goes on endlessly.

We’ve all sat through that presentation, at least once. The audience is drooling and snoring, or gazing off into the distance, or checking their e-mail on their cell phones. All the while, the speaker is droning on and on with no regard to the coma he is inducing in his audience, and no attention being paid to the minutes ticking off everybody’s life.

The last three TED Commandments are an edict against being That Guy.
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TED Commandments V, VI & VII : Get Engaged


No, not engaged to be married. (Though, if you are, good on ya!)

The fifth, sixth, and seventh TED commandments direct speakers to get engaged with their audience. They ask us to create a conversation, rather than just deliver information.

Which, if you think about it, is the clearest path to success currently on offer. The biggest moneymakers, the most successful web properties, the media that are the message—all are built around the idea of creating a conversation. The current success of the web is because people can create, share, and engage one another in a discussion around common interests.
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TED Commandments III and IV: Keep It Real


I was chatting with a friend just last night about how important it is to keep it real. He was telling me of a colleague of his that was unfamiliar with this concept. This colleague is a nice fellow, but his conversation choices are altogether too serious. Playful banter isn’t something he’s used to.

It’s a pretense that isn’t altogether uncommon. Part of what keeps people living in fear of taking the stage is that they are afraid of looking bad. It’s hard to keep up a façade when hundreds of eyes are on you.

However, one of the best ways of capturing your audience’s attention is to open yourself up, make yourself vulnerable, and truly keep it real. The next two TED Commandments speak to that very need.
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Monday Morning Quick Tip: Let Loose


I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Cornel West speak in Phoenix this weekend. He shared a dais with several local activists and academics, who were gathered to discuss the historical situation that has led us to legislation like the controversial SB1070. All of the gathered speakers were passionate about their opinions, and eloquent about their work. But Dr. West outshone everybody else.

For nearly an hour, Dr. West held the audience rapt as he preached the gospel of social justice. And “preached” is the only way to adequately characterize West’s style. He is an absolute master of the form. He uses his passion, and his extraordinary energy, to create a fire-and-brimstone sermon that draws regular applause and murmurs of agreement from his audiences.
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TED Commandments I & II : Be Original

Orientation Guide

One of the best things about TED talks is that there’s always something fresh and interesting on deck. There is always something new. In this first installment of our discussion of the TED commandments, we’ll talk about how a demand for originality is key to engaging an audience.

TED Commandments I & II read as follows:

  • Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
  • Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before

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Follow The TED Commandments


The TED talks have become a cultural touchstone of creativity, passion, and innovation. Each TED event brings an opportunity to hear from extraordinary people who are up to extraordinary things. Each TED speaker, it has been said, receives a list of The TED Commandments to help them put together a speech that will be successful on the TED stage. (That’s them, in the picture. They come on a slab of rock. F’real.)

Being that these talks are often some of the most engaging, informative, and creative presentations going, I thought it would be good to cover each of The TED Commandments in detail. For the next few days, I’ll be running a series of posts, each featuring information on two or three of the ten TED Commandments. But first, a list of all of them:
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Get Real – Your Audience Demands It


Over at his Presentation Advisors blog, Jon Thomas makes a great point about how we were all better presenters in kindergarten. The article got me thinking about how it is that kids manage to capture our attention, and hold us so rapt. Why is it that we find ourselves listening to them, laughing with them, enjoying their antics?

What is it that kids have, that we adults don’t?
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Monday Morning Quick Tip: Speak Up


It’s important to make your voice heard. If you’re going to be in front of people it is imperative that they be able to hear and understand you. Often, speakers have microphones available. However, like any technology, it is dangerous to rely upon its use. This week’s quick tip is all about learning to speak up, and be heard.

The key thing to remember about making your voice heard in a large space is that you don’t need to shout. Shouting puts undue strain on your vocal chords, and can result in serious physical damage. Instead, you need to learn to project your voice.
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The Art of Accepting Criticism – Part 2


In part 1 of this article we covered two important strategies for learning to accept criticism, even when it’s difficult. We have to  learn to separate our egos from our work product, and we have to listen for and recognize the real intention of our critics. In this second article, we’re going to talk about two more key strategies for accepting and making use of quality criticism to improve our work.
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The Art of Accepting Criticism – Part 1


It’s really wonderful to receive praise and accolades for our speeches and presentations. It feels great when everybody in the room seems to have enjoyed what we’ve had to say. It’s awesome when our audience has really connected with the message we were trying so hard to communicate.

And boy, does it ever suck when the opposite happens. Bombing is just not much fun, and it happens to even the best of us from time-to-time. Even worse is when somebody comes up afterwards and has the temerity to tell you exactly where and how you failed. One of the toughest lessons life offers us is this: Sometimes, the truth really hurts.

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