delivering impressive idea presentation at work

Dedicated to everyone looking to captivate both the hearts and minds of their audiences. #SkillsGap

“The ability to communicate your ideas persuasively is the single greatest skill you need to accomplish your dreams”

Nowadays it’s impossible to avoid public speaking especially if you are a manager, people leader or hold a position that requires you to be front and center. Even in the world of online communication and e-mail, one can’t escape speaking in some form or fashion. Let’s face it, anyone can give a presentation but few truly connect with their audience(s).

Fact: 3 out of every 4 people, amounting to 75%, have speech anxiety and this impacts their ability to deliver public speeches.

If you do hold a position where you are front and center and are required to speak to others publicly, then you know how daunting it can be. Even if you aren’t a people manager or leader in the workplace, you may have to stand up at a wedding or network event and speak to an audience. Either way, public speaking is still the number one fear for most people and finding a way to deliver an impactful message can be the difference between applause or silence.

Fact: There are currently 18,200,000 possible books on presentation skills according a recent Google search.  

In reality, this topic has saturated both the online article space as well as the publishing world for decades and we (myself included) continue to watch the masters of speech dazzle us with their performances which appear to be seamless and sometimes poetic. Whether it’s Steve Jobs famous graduation speech, Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” or the President of The United States addressing the world – we succumb to the art and science of  public speaking.

Enter Ted (Technology, Entertainment, Design) and my guilty obsession for watching, learning and studying the presenters who appear to magically grace the stage while seamlessly connecting with their audience. The Ted Talk platform first appeared in 1984 but rose to more prominent fame during the 1990’s and continues to build momentum while attracting some of the most brilliant minds and ideas. Ted has truly revolutionized the art and science of delivering a powerful presentation and the millions of viewers who flock to their site daily are proof positive there is something these presenters all share in their success and delivery.

As a speaker myself, I have probably watched a few hundred Ted Talks and studied how they speak, walk and even the visuals they use to support their story.  I thought I had read every book on this topic researching the latest tip, trick or trend and then I came across Carmine Gallo’s book titled “Talk Like Ted” which outlines what I believe is not only the most effective support to anyone who has to deliver a presentation but also the easiest to digest. Oh and I should mention that it’s backed by some solid science so rest assured it’s not fluff.

Here is what you need to know so the next time you stand up to present and win them over in true Ted Talk fashion while exuding confidence and authority. The secret here is that your presentation should obey 3 basic rules:

  1. BE EMOTIONAL – touch your audiences heart through your passion, storytelling and create a conversation.
  2. BE NOVEL – teach your audience something new through jaw dropping moments with a sense of humor.
  3. BE MEMORABLE – present in way that they will remember by keeping it short but include engaging visuals while being your most authentic self.

Here is how it all breaks down….

“Unleash Your Passion”

500 TED speakers were interviewed and guess what they was their key to success? You guessed right…their passion for what they do. They do it for love, not for money.

Science shows that passion is contagious. You cannot inspire others unless you are inspired yourself. When you meet someone who is genuinely passionate about an idea or product, it will ultimately influence your opinion and create an enjoyable experience. Consider the following:

    • Motivated and energized speakers are always more interesting and engaging than bored and passive ones.
    • Speakers who genuinely express their passion are the ones with whom customers want to conduct business.
    • Asking yourself, “What’s my product or service?” isn’t nearly as effective as asking yourself, “What business am I really in? What am I truly passionate about?”
    • If your motivation is to share your passion with your audience, it’s likely that you’ll feel less nervous about speaking in public.
    • When you’re passionate about your topic your enthusiasm will rub off on your listeners. Don’t be afraid to express yourself – be authentic to your audience.

Identify your unique and meaningful connection to your topic. 
Invite passionate people into your life. Identifying your passion is one step, but you must share it and talk about what motivates you with other people. Most important, link yourself with others who share your passion.

“Master The Art Of Storytelling”

Storytelling is the ultimate tool of persuasion. Those who tell stories connect with their audiences in far deeper and more meaningful ways. According to research conducted at Princeton University, “brain coupling” is possible when the audiences brain responds in the same manner as the speakers allowing for the content and delivery to stick.

Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain. This is achieved through persuasion and occurs when three components are represented: Ethos, Logos and Pathos.

  • Ethos is credibility – people we respect for their achievements
  • Logos is evidence and data.
  • Pathos is emotional appeal.

 Good speakers spend most of their presentations on pathos (stories), not logos (facts).

Now comes the storytelling piece. There are three simple and effective types of stories the great orators of our time demonstrate on stage: Personal, about Others or about Brand Success.

  • Personal Stories – Take the audience on a journey. Make it rich with imagery so they can imagine themselves with you in the story.
  • Stories about Other People – Tell personal stories about other people with whom the audience can empathize. Empathy is the capacity to recognize and feel emotions experienced by somebody else. We put ourselves in the shoes of the other person.
  • Stories about Brand Success – Brand marketers have a secret weapon – a well told story. Audiences are so bombarded by messages that they are more resistant than ever before to typical advertising and marketing. But these same audiences when inspired by a story drop resistance and become raving fans.

Tell stories that reach people’s hearts and minds. 
To do this, you must embrace your story, own it and share it. A powerful story can persuade customers, employees, investors, and stakeholders that your company, product or idea can help them achieve the success they desire.


“Teach Your Audience Something New”

You’ll grab your audience’s attention if you can teach them just one thing they didn’t know before.

The human brain loves novelty. An unfamiliar, unusual, or unexpected element in a presentation intrigues the audience, jolts them out of their preconceived notions, and quickly gives them a new way of looking at the world. Consider the following:

  • Use very personal stories to bring your data alive and connect the stories back to the theme of your presentation.
  • You’ll grab your audience’s attention if you can teach them just one thing they didn’t know before.
  • Great innovators apply ideas from fields other than their own.
  • Only through seeing your own world through a fresh lens will you be able to give your audience a new way of looking at their world.

FACT: A fresh, new and unexpected twist, on an old idea releases your brains dopamine, your brains natural “save button.”

Reveal information that’s completely new to your audience, packaged differently, or offers a fresh and novel way to solve an old problem. 
Remember, the best ideas will fail to inspire an audience if they’re not packaged effectively. If you think you don’t have anything new to teach people – I would ask you to pause for a second. We all have unique stories to tell. Pay attention to your own stories. If they teach you something new, there’s a good chance other people will want to hear about it.


“Deliver Jaw Dropping Moments”

In your next presentation identify the most important points, then find a novel and memorable way to communicate those points. Bill Gates was able to successfully create this when he released live mosquitoes into the audience during his presentation on malaria.

Jaw-dropping moments create what neuroscientists call an emotionally charged event, a heightened state of emotions that makes it more likely your audience will remember your message and act on it. Consider the following:

  • Props and Demonstrations to emphasize a key point.
  • Unexpected and Shocking Statistics–make numbers meaningful, memorable, and jaw-dropping by placing them in a context that the audience can relate to.
  • Pictures, Images and Videos.
  • Memorable Headlines – A short, provocative, repeatable phrases. Hook people. Craft and deliver repeatable quotes that will be remembered.
  • Personal Stories – great communicators are good storytellers. Break down the barrier between you and your audience by letting your guard down.


Create a moment in your presentation when you successfully deliver a shocking, impressive, or surprising moment that is so moving and memorable, it grabs the listener’s attention and is remembered long after the presentation is over. If you want to stand out in a sea of mediocre presentations, you must take emotional charge of your audience.


“Stick To The 18 Minute Rule”

According to Ted, eighteen minutes is the ideal length of time for a presentation. If you must create one that’s longer, build in soft breaks (stories, videos, demonstrations) every 10 minutes.

Researchers have discovered that “cognitive backlog,” too much information, prevents the successful transmission of ideas. Consider the following:

  • Listening is an exhaustive activity because the learner is continually adding material to be remembered later.
  • The longer the presentation, the more the listener has to organize, comprehend, and remember. The burden increases along with a listener’s anxiety.
  • The Law of Subtraction – Creativity thrives under intelligent constraints. Establishing a limit to your presentation provides a framework for creativity to flourish.

When you give a simple explanation of a complex topic, you’ll be providing your audience the confidence to understand and follow your presentation. Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I agree with Albert on this one and would add “The Rule of Three” which states that – people can remember three pieces of information really well; add more items and retention falls off considerably.


“Create Visually Intriguing Imagery”

In presentation slides, use pictures instead of text whenever possible. Your audience is far more likely to recall information when it’s delivered in a combination of pictures and text.

Remember, the brain does not pay attention to boring things. The brain craves multi sensory experiences. According to research, information delivered (only) verbally was retained at dismal 10%. However, once a visual was introduced – retention rose to a respectful 65%. Consider the following:

  • Our brains our wired to process visual information – pictures very differently than text and sound.
  • Words are encoded verbally. Pictures are more richly stamped in our brains and easier to recall.

Deliver presentations with components that touch more than one of the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. 
If you find yourself shackled to PowerPoint, remember to visualize your content first before dropping in slides. When possible, add images or include background pictures over pre-purposed pie charts, tables or graphs. I read this trick which does work: Use less than 40 words in the first 10 slides of your presentation. This will force you to think creatively about telling a memorable story.


“Stay In Your Lane”

This is a common and sometimes misused phrase that I have seen used in many different situations when it comes to self-help. In this case, we are referring to being authentic and true to yourself.

Most people can spot a phony pretty quickly even if it’s not on the surface, our brains are hardwired to detect anomalies in our environment. If you try to be something or someone you’re not, you’ll fail to gain the trust of your audience. Consider the following:

  • To be an impressive public speaker, you have to believe in what you are saying.
  • Resist (outright) copying another Ted Talk presenter if it’s not true to you’re authentic self and beliefs. Said another way, your presentation should be an extension of both your mind and heart.

Be authentic, open, and transparent. 
You have to believe in what you are saying if you want to connect with your audience and have them believe in what you are saying.



Final thoughts:
The likelihood that you will soon be on the Ted Talk stage is slim but that shouldn’t stop you from mastering your own presentation skills and learn how to captivate your audience. The tips I’ve shared with you here can absolutely translate not only to your next workplace meeting but any time you have the opportunity to address any size of audience. The key is to prepare, prepare and prepare some more until you could present without any assistance from slides or note cards. I wholeheartedly believe that it begins with your passion both in what you do, why you do it and most importantly how you deliver it.

” An inspiring speaker should move his or her listeners to think differently about their lives or careers while a great speaker makes you want to be a better person.”

What success have you had in connecting with your audience?

With leadership,


Not-your-typical Personal and Executive Master Certified Coach.
Joshua Miller is a creative and impactful leader. His career experience has spanned both the advertising world and the world of leadership and organizational development. To learn more about Joshua, please visit

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