I took a public speaking class in high school. I participated in statewide forensics competitions, and I was part of Virginia’s statewide American Legion oratorical competition. I once gave a keynote speech for the annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association to 4,000 people in a ballroom and, even more terrifying, my 9th grade biology teacher sitting in the back of the room. Throw all that experience out the window. Those speeches were a piece of cake compared with the prospect of giving a talk for TEDxHumboldtBay 2014. As a geologist, I am accustomed to giving scientific talks. These presentations assume the audience has a high level of knowledge about the academic discipline and its history. The talks typically begin with a historical background, outline the issues, present the data in tables or graphs or charts, develop theories that are meant to convince the audience of the correctness of the conclusions, and set the stage for future research.
Can you say “Boring”? Throw that organization out the window, too. TED talks require a totally different approach.
The chance to give a talk at TEDxHumboldtBay has already taught me many ways that all presentations can benefit from the structure and attitude associated with a TED talk.
The “TED Commandments” (http://www.tedxmonterey.org/2013/12/19/ted-commandments-for-presenters/) have broad applicability to many – perhaps most – types of presentations. Being creative, passionate, original, concise, and entertaining could benefit any talk. After the experience of preparing for TEDxHumboldtBay, I’ll never give a talk the same way again. But you know what really has me terrified? The memorization part. The last talk that I gave completely from memory was in 11th grade. I wonder if I can do it again. We’ll find out on December 7. Come hear about “A Journey to the Center of the Earth” – and see if I was able to follow the TED Commandments.