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Why TED Talks Are the Modern Gold Standard for Presentations

Just about everyone has watched a TED talk at some point in their lives. These seemingly ubiquitous presentations are free and easily shared online through social media, and shown in schools, offices, and other meetings. TED Talks have grown so popular over the years that they are seen as the gold standard of modern presentations, in both the business and consumer realms.

Talks stand out from other form of presentations as an effective medium to convey accurate, easy-to-understand information to a target audience. The key to their success lies in good preparation, top-quality visuals, professional editing, and speakers who are passionate about the topic.

 

What Is a TED Talk?

The original TED acronym stood for technology, entertainment, and design, and was a small conference on the converging of these topics, started in 1984. The next conference was held in 1990, and then annually after that. As TED grew in popularity, the topics expanded to include everything from politics to feminism, science, music, and business, and many others. Notable celebrities, Nobel Prize winners, artists, politicians, and leaders in all sorts of industries have given TED talks. However, the conferences remained small, and exclusive to those invited and willing to pay for expensive tickets.

The TED organization wanted to bring these exciting conferences to the masses, and so, in 2006, six talks were posted online. Today thousands of talks are available on their website, in more than 100 different languages, and the short videos have gathered more than one billion views collectively. The goals of this nonprofit organization remain to provide nonpartisan educational content, seeking out interesting people to speak and share their knowledge and passions. If you haven’t yet caught a TED talk, a quick browse through the many titles on the TED website, shows the wealth of topics to choose from.

 

What Makes TED Talks So Effective?

TED talks stand out from other forms of presentations as an effective medium to convey accurate easy-to-understand information to a target audience. The organizers of these events and talks aren’t in it for the money – they work passionately to spread ideas. Here are some of the key factors responsible for their explosive success.

1. While some of the speeches may seem simple or spontaneous, lots of preparation goes into them. The speeches are written well in advance of filming, memorized, and practiced to perfection. However, great speakers also know the power of occasional ad-libbing and how to use charisma so their speech doesn’t sound like rote memorization.

2. Props and visual aids. The best presenters know how to use quality visuals – including photos, videos, charts and graphs, as well as 3-dimensional props to help to tell their story in an easy-to-understand and entertaining way that captures the audience. Body language and hand gestures are also important. A recent study noted that the most popular speeches on the site had more hand gestures than some of the least popular videos. And when many people watch videos on mute, body language and visual aids can be very important.

3. Professional lighting and editing. TED talks use top-quality lighting and filming equipment, and use professional editing post-production to give the viewer multiple angles for visual interest and dramatic effect. The talks are shot more like movies than conference presentations and are entertaining to watch.

4. Emotion and Passion. TED speakers go beyond just reciting facts and know how to captivate with emotional influence and speaking passionately about the topic. These presenters touch the hearts of their audience, use enthusiasm, and inspire the audience to positive action.

5. Keeping it short. All TED talks are less than 18 minutes, preventing anyone from droning on too long. These shorter snippets of time allow information to be more easily absorbed and remembered. They also ensure the speaker stays focused on the main topic.

6. One of the most important factors in TED talk’s vast popularity is that they are available online, anytime, to anyone, and for no cost. While the original TED conferences were more elite and expensive to attend, now anyone can benefit from the information and inspiration, even if on a limited budget.

 

TED’s Global Impact

Aside from analyzing the details like speech preparation and fancy, professional filming equipment, perhaps the single most important reason why TED is so important is the impact its speeches have had on the lives of millions. Because of all of the factors we already mentioned, these little videos are making their way across the globe. People share them with friends on social media. The speeches discuss such important topics as social justice, equal rights, and the environment, and because of the charismatic, passionate speakers, more people are inspired to make positive change.

Sometimes, these videos challenge the audience’s viewpoints, using empathy and emotional influence to shed light on an important issue, and even change minds. The organizers at TED report that over the years, thousands of people have written them messages praising the impact of one speech or another, and how it has changed their lives.

 

The Future for TED

The next step for TED is the newer TEDx events. These events focus on local issues in a specific community and have already been hosted in 1200 cities across 130 countries. The TED organization notes that they would like to have all of their TED and TEDx talks not just available online, but translated to multiple languages (both spoken and subtitles) to make all of the inspiring presentations even more accessible. Thankfully, they plan to continue to be a source of educational content for years to come.

We can all learn from the style of TED talks for presentations and conferences. Following the key factors of TED’s success can infuse your presentations and speakers with energy and inspiration. If you’d like to capture some of the explosive energy of TED talks in your own professional presentations, but need a little direction, Shapiro Negotiations can help. We have experienced keynote speakers, as well as training programs to help you and your organization. Contact us for more information.

Are In-Person Networking Skills Still Important in a Social Media Age?

In the Age of Social Media, how important are face-to-face networking skills? Very, according to recent surveys. The majority (68%) of entry-level professionals place more value on face-to-face networking than online interactions. Furthermore, just over half (51%) of professionals do not have LinkedIn profiles, showing significant dissonance even with the most popular business networking site. Face-to-face networking skills are still critical for working professionals who wish to advance their careers or grow businesses.

 

The Importance of Business Networking

Sales center on people. People making connections and building relationships with other people are what keep companies in business. Networking is at the heart of business. This remains true whether the networking is online or in person. Business networking is essential for people who want jobs, career advancement, or business growth. Salespeople especially rely on networking. It is the number one way to establish trust, introduce oneself to potential customers, and increase brand awareness and product visibility.

The art of networking has undergone significant changes in the last few decades. From business cards to business Instagram accounts, everything has gone digital. Sites like LinkedIn target business people specifically, aimed at helping professionals build their networks, earn endorsements, and get better jobs. While connecting online might appear to widen a person’s career network and help forge relationships, in reality it still falls short of in-person networking for most business people.

Networking at corporate events, conferences, and sales meetings can help businesses and prospects connect. Sales professionals, for example, can exchange information with potential customers and leave lasting impressions from their face-to-face meetings. Virtual networking can also add value to professional relationships. It can help a person develop contacts, connect with important people in the industry, and get in touch with the right people. Despite the push toward online connections, in-person business networking is still highly valuable.

 

What Do the Numbers Say?

Many different sources agree: nothing is more effective than in-person networking. Research proves that face-to-face interactions tend to be more positive than online interactions. The people who achieve the greatest results from their networking efforts almost always engage in face-to-face interactions. When searching for a new job, 46% of people still find the most success in traditional, in-person networking.

While actual words are important, they make up only 7% of a person’s perception of sincerity. Nonverbal cues are much more important when it comes to discerning whether to trust someone. Facial expressions while we talk make up 55%, while inflection of tone makes up 38%. A whopping 72% of people say looks and handshakes influence their decisions. One survey from 2015 found that 9 in 10 people choose small, face-to-face meetings as their preferred communication method.

When it comes to personal preference, in-person is a clear winner across multiple surveys. Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents in the Virgin survey say they prefer in-person meetings, while 95% say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. If companies eliminated business travel for in-person interactions, they would lose around 17% of their total profits. Despite the pull of the “Social Media Age,” it’s clear business professionals still value in-person networking highly.

 

The Benefits of In-Person Networking

The internet is growing as a way to network and build relationships. However, the media richness theory finds that seeing someone in person is still the richest form of communication. The next-best form is video conferencing, which still allows those in the conversation to see facial expressions and hear inflections. Then comes phone communication, then emails, and lastly, texts. The richer the mode of communication, the better it is for developing relationships. Although many online tools today facilitate networking, in-person interactions come with the following benefits:

  • Reading body language
  • Customizing the conversation
  • Showcasing your personality
  • Building a human relationship and trust
  • Establishing chemistry and sharing energy
  • Having more diverse and memorable conversations
  • Getting insider knowledge
  • Preventing harmful miscommunications
  • Taking business relationships to the next level
  • Bonding with others in a shared setting
  • Having fun during the interaction
  • Arranging the next (follow-up) action

No amount of sophisticated technology can replace in-person networking. Being with the other person in the flesh can forge stronger bonds and create a better foundation for a long-lasting business relationship. The numbers support this conclusion, with the majority of today’s business professionals preferring in-person interactions to digital ones. There is no question – it is still important to cultivate in-person networking skills. The next step is improving your face-to-face exchanges.

 

In-Person Networking Tips

Networking in person can give you opportunities you would not have over social media alone. To take full advantage of these opportunities, you need a few networking tips to help you make the greatest impact. The amount of time you spend preparing for your in-person interaction can make a difference in its outcome. Set yourself up for success by embracing available tools, tips, and tricks. If you’re planning an in-person networking event or situation soon, keep the following in mind for optimal engagement:

1. Prioritize building trust and credibility. One of the greatest downfalls of communication over social media is not knowing who to trust. Establishing trust is possible through smart marketing content, but it gets much easier when you can meet someone in person.

Whether your goal is to get a new job or clinch an important sale, prioritize establishing trust between you and the other person. Do this by showing others your similarities in the time you have together. People tend to trust what they know more than what they don’t. Make human connections with people to earn their trust and strengthen the relationship.

2. Use positive emotions to your advantage. Logic can help form a buying decision, but emotions seal the deal. Face-to-face interactions give you the power of using emotions to your advantage. Be open and transparent with the other person, supporting your words with the appropriate facial expressions.

Make an emotional connection with the person, whether it’s fear, compassion, empathy, or having fun at a business event. Connecting with a prospect or professional on an emotional level improves your odds of having a lasting positive impact.

3. Let your personality shine. You have the opportunity to truly show the prospect what you’re like during face-to-face meetings. Don’t miss out. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show what makes you unique.

Show off your sense of humor, warmth, friendliness, and other traits that set you apart from other salespeople, brands, or job prospects. Let the other person see you’re more than just a social media profile – you’re a flesh-and-blood person who can check all the boxes of what they’re looking for.

In-person networking can be more daunting than an online interaction. You must put your best foot forward, or you could miss out on an important business opportunity. Everything must count, from the clothes you wear to the words you say. Pay special attention to body language, presence, and inflection during face-to-face meetings. Nail important aspects such as the first impression and initial handshake. Do your research, prepare talking points, and – most importantly – be yourself.

 

Improve Your Business Networking Skills Today

Whether you are a born social butterfly or you identify as an introvert, influence and persuasion training can help you. The training program at SNI helps participants influence others and the decisions they make. It focuses on credibility, emotion, and logic – Aristotle’s three elements to influence. It can help you become more persuasive and effective in your techniques during both in-person and social media interactions. Sign up today to start developing your networking skills.