Friday, November 14, 2014

unCon 2014 Session: How to give a TED talk

By: Jiyoung Jeong

Led by UMass Amherst TEDx Group

During the second session, representatives from UMass Amherst’s TEDx group pitched a short lecture on how to give TED talks. They covered the main fundamentals of speechmaking: the importance of physical stance and position, visual presentation, and content.

Whenever one gives a talk in front of a big audience, it’s crucial to stand in a confident position. One of the representatives stressed the importance by noting that statistically, “people who [stand in] bigger positions” give more successful, effective talks. “[Standing in a more assured position] makes you more confident,” she said, stating that carrying an unruffled stance causes one’s body to produce hormones that makes him or her more confident.

The representatives also emphasized the significance of visual assistance in presentations. They mentioned that many use PowerPoint to summarize main points, while stressing that a slide shouldn’t contain long paragraphs that distract the audience from the talk itself. The worst that can happen while giving a talk, a representative said, is having so much information on a slide that “it becomes almost annoying.” “You do not want to put a presentation up and read the slides word for word,” she said.

Lastly, they discussed the significance of content. A talk becomes “more endearing,” a representative mentioned, “when they’re speaking in a relatable way.” He went on to say that a talk’s topic could be simple; he recalled the time he watched an effective TED talk on a topic as mundane as paper towels.


Although the UMass Amherst TEDx group did not discuss the process of making TED talks in depth, its members discussed the most basic skills needed for speechmaking—offering helpful advice to all aspiring speechmakers at the session. 

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