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‹ View all articles19th March 2012

[Video Blog] How to Speak like a TED Talker Part 1: Digging for Diamonds

TED Lessons

I’ve spotted five key competencies you’ll need to develop if you want to speak like the finest TED Talkers. In one quick video each week for the next five weeks, I’ll give you a quick intro to each.

Welcome to this video mini series celebrating the launch of my three day training programme "Speak Like a TED Talker".

In this video I focus on the first: Digging for Diamonds.

If you watch the greatest TED talks you’ll notice that they have one compelling idea that’s brought to life by one compelling narrative, or visual or journey.

These are what I call the ‘diamonds’ in your experience – the gems of wisdom that capture the hearts and minds of the audience.

Your Diamonds may be immediately obvious to you. Take TED talker Jill Bolte-Taylor as an example, she was a neuroanatomist who suffered a stroke – perfect material for a dramatic story that directly connected to her work. And classic TED material.

But most of us haven’t suffered a life-threatening condition, and thankfully we don’t have to either to do a TED style talk that’s just as good as Jill’s! So how do we take a lifetime of thoughts, ideas and experiences and sift through them all to find what we’re going to talk about?

Here are three places to get you started:

1) Fist of all, you need to understand what a diamond is.

The word ‘Diamond’ comes from the Greek word ‘unbreakeable’, so you’re looking for a concept or idea that is hard, solid, definite – impossible to find holes in. You’ll notice that TED talks steer well clear of anything ‘hippy’, but have 11 featured talks on compassion. These talks make a topic that’s potentially vague or airy fairy into something specific. So you’re what you’re looking for is a concrete, complete and self-contained concept.

2) Choose the diamond that speaks to you.

Imagine you’re one part of a newly engaged couple. You’re heading to the finest jeweller’s in town to choose an engagement ring. Do you just run into the shop and grab the first diamond you see? Probably not. Probably it takes hours… of looking, trying out, inspecting the shape and colour, asking the girl behind the counter which one she prefers… and so on, until you find the diamond that ‘speaks to you’.

Likewise, finding the diamonds in your own experience is a process that takes time, experimentation, getting feedback from others and ultimately listening to your own inner voice. Investigate different stories from your life, different ideas, from different parts of your experience. Look at each idea from all angles. Inspect it for its shape, shine, its luminosity. Which idea stands out from all the rest? That’s the diamond for you.

3. You can only wear one ring.

Finally, the bride-to-be can’t wear tens of diamond rings, she can only wear one. Yes, maybe you have a whole cabinet of diamonds, but pick which diamond you like the best and wear it with pride.

View part 2 of this video series, where I’ll tell you about the second key competency of the finest TED Talkers – Information Architecture.



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