Michael Sterling

Scour Your Brain For An Inspiring Presentation

Presentation Secrets from TED Talks


If you’re a fan of TED.com, you probably remember the first time you viewed one of the company’s free 18-minute online presentations. TED Talks are truly inspiring. If you’re not yet familiar with them, you’ll find that their speakers provide jaw-dropping stories you’ll be talking about for weeks.


TED’s growing global audience is testimony to the success of their mission, “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Since June 2006, the talks have been offered for free viewing online.


  • By January 2009 they had been viewed 50 million times
  • In June 2011, the viewing figure stood at more than 500 million
  • By mid-November, 2012, TED Talks had been watched one billion times worldwide


Originally focusing on technology, entertainment and design—hence, the initials—TED Talks features remarkable experts in diverse fields with revolutionary ideas. As some of the most viewed speakers in the world, they showcase their high-level presentation skills—a seamless blend of intelligence, entertainment and persuasion.


At some point in your career, you’ll likely be called upon to make a presentation to potential customers, superiors and/or colleagues. Your ability to persuade others will contribute greatly to your overall success. Fortunately, there’s a great book that can help you break down the key elements to an effective presentation.


Successful Speechcraft



Jeremy Donovan, executive vice president of Gartner, Inc. has written How To Deliver a TED Talk, a complete guide to creating presentations that inspire others through stories. Based on the most popular TED Talks, this playbook shows you how to select a topic, craft your narrative and fine-tune your delivery.



Select a Topic: Regardless of subject, your goal is to awaken your audience to a new way of thinking, to inform and educate or to persuade them to take action.


  1. Why is this topic important to me and to my audience?
  2. How will my audience benefit from this information?
  3. How can I gain the trust and understanding of the audience?


Identify a central idea, and work backwards to establish an audience-centric narrative that includes stories and facts. As you build your talk, play the role of skeptical listener by asking “So what?” and “What’s in it for me?”


Appeal to Your Audience: People have four driving needs, so make emotional connections that appeal to your audience’s:    


  1. Social need for belonging
  2. Self-interest
  3. Ability to learn and grow
  4. Desire to make a meaningful difference


Dig deep. Explore beyond the surface of your topic, but don’t try to pack a lifetime’s worth of learning into a single talk.


Be clear about your central idea. Focus on a unifying message; then, scour your brain for amazing experiences that add emotional depth.


In the work I do coaching public accounting professionals, you’d be surprised how many struggle with fear of presentations. Being an effective communicator is just one of the in-demand soft skills that set you apart and determine your career trajectory. (Related article: Six Soft Skills Every Public Accountant Needs)


Instead of focusing only on your idea, shift your focus to the universal needs of the people in your audience.  You will increase your credibility, position yourself as a leader and gain value as a trusted advisor.


Reap the Rewards


Make your presentation matter to the people listening to you. You’ll increase your credibility, position yourself as a leader and resonate as a trusted advisor.


Interested in more insights on career development. Check out the Career Wellness section of the SterlingFreeman website.


Go To SterlingFreeman - Career Wellness

© 2022 Sterling Freeman   |  Privacy Policy