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‹ View all articles10th April 2012

[Video Blog] How to Speak Like a TED Talker Part 2: Information Architecture

TED Lessons

The second part of a 5 part video series to teach you how to speak like a TED Talker. This video looks at Information Architecture in writing a speech; how to design the structure of a speech & edit your material to give the maximum power.

This is the second in a video mini series celebrating the launch of my three day training programme "Speak Like a TED Talker"

Here I’ll talk about the second – that’s Information Archtitecture, or the skill of editing all your possible speech content down into one 20 minute speech (or shorter)

Many public speakers are tempted to try and ‘give as much value as possible’ when they are writing a speech, which means cramming far too many ideas in, or trying to tell the audience everything they know in that time.

If you think about it from the perspective of the audience, they want two things from your choices in writing a speech:

They want your information to be Valuable and Vivid.

Think about a fine meal at a restaurant. Value there is a coherent meal of chargrilled tuna steak on sautéed spinach, not tiger prawns, chicken pie, macaroni cheese, pizza and caviar all thrown together on one plate.

By giving value, you’re offering one beautiful public speaking dish for your audience to enjoy. Nobody takes that to mean you can’t cook anything else. Select the information about your subject matter for your speech that’s surprising, that your audience didn’t know already and that feels useful.

And Vivid means the colours, the flavours and the smells of your dish. If you’ve ever lost your sense of smell you’ll know how it affects your enjoyment of food. The same goes for public speaking that fails to stimulate the senses.

Write your speech with pieces of information or bits of a story that make your audience feel that makes them smell, that makes them taste. Make them ‘ooh’ in delight or ‘eek’ in disgust. Make them laugh, make them gasp, make them angry.

This is how you write and edit a speech. Any information that is Valuable and Vivid, goes onto the ‘yes’ pile and any that isn’t, even if you think it’s good, you can save for another day.

And from the ‘yes’ pile, start to write a speech that makes sense, that’s exciting, that’s captivating.

In the next video in this mini series on speaking like a TED talker, we’ll look at the third competency of the greatest TED talkers – Innovation.


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