TED is an annual conference held in Monterey, California featuring presentations from the world’s leading thinkers and doers. Each speaker has 18 minutes to make their point. TED puts videos of the speakers on their website – this is an amazing treasure trove of material for observing and learning from great presenters. Garr Reynolds from the Presentation Zen blog has done a great job in highlighting some of the great speeches from TED and offering his comments. His comments generally focus on these areas:

  1. The visual content of the presentation eg: slides, props
  2. The delivery style of the presenter
  3. The substance of the content.

My approach will be to analyse the process of the content. What I mean by the process of the content is such things as:

  1. The key message of the presentation
  2. The structure of the presentation
  3. The examples and analogies used to support the presentation.

My aim in this analysis is to see what we can learn from TED speakers about planning the content of a business presentation. In a business presentation I believe Content is King. The audience is there for your content – what you have to say. At the beginning of our courses, we reinforce this by explaining the five domains of presenting (content, visuals, confidence, delivery and audience management). We then ask the participants:

“If you are going to a business presentation, as an audience member, which of these five is the most important to you?”

Most will answer that they are there primarily for the content – information of value what they will get from the presentation. You may not deliver it very well, you may be nervous and have no visual aids – but if you have good content you will still have a presentation that people will get value from.  This is an empowering concept for people starting out in their presentation careers. Andrew Abela on his Extreme Presentation blog and Tom Antion on his Great Public Speaking blog have both also discussed the primacy of content. Of course, if you also have great visuals and an engaging delivery style that’s great – but by themselves these things are not sufficient to make a great presentation.

That’s why my focus in analysing TED presentations will be the process of the content.

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