I always try to see the learning in things. Even in things I don’t like.
I‘m thinking: ” What is the learning in this bad experience ? ”
Here are three great examples on how NOT to spread great ideas at TEDx events.
- Not speak English excluding a part of the audience
- As a scientist use a difficult language
- Be dull
At TEDx the speakers speak English. However , there were three who decided to speak Romanian because their English was not good enough. Two women and one man. I really wanted to understand the man, an ultra marathon runner. The two women mumbled around stage and I’m not sure if I missed anything from not understanding them. The non-verbal communication looked whimsical to me and the ambiance in the audience was low.
As with the regards to the organizers : I can understand that they have a dilemma to decide whether or not bring a non-English speaker into the forum, TEDx.
I don’t think they should.
I think they should have it as a prerequisite that all speakers should give their talks in English. If in other languages then it should be mentioned on the agenda description or provide a translator.
I will tell you why in one simple phrase.
TEDx is about: ideas worth spreading.
If the speakers don’t speak English their ideas have limit possibility to be spread. At least it will take longer time. It is excluding to the foreign participants (who traveled from abroad to attend TEDx) to speak in Romanian instead of English.
Scientist often make a big mistake regarding public speaking : them being too complex and using a vocabulary that few understand. Public speaking is about reaching out to the audience. If the audience is fellow scientist then a genre specific language is ok. If not: – Simplify ! If not simplifying : the message will be lost in translation.
At TEDx each speaker has 18 minutes. The speaker must me specific in those 18 minutes and choose carefully how to use those 18 minutes.
At TEDx we are there to hear IDEAS WORTH SPREADING.
Hence : the message must be understandable in order to be spread.
There were 3 people who failed hugely.
The three architects. After their talk we were sitting as big question marks : what was the message worth spreading ?
TIPS for scientist regarding public speaking to a diverse audience:
- rehearse in front of somebody who is absolutely not into your own field
- Simplify your language
- Make examples from every day life, that people can relate to
- Make it clear what the everyday use of your science findings is all about
If you are boring and with no charisma, there is little chance that we will bother listening to you. However interesting the content is. That’s the harsh truth. If you don’t have charisma, try to at least smile invitingly 🙂
An example of this is the scientist introducing a ”Physical Internet”, a model on how to simplify Global Logistics. Saving money, saving the planet. I think the idea was brilliant and it all made sense. However, he failed hugely regarding his presentational skills, making his speech dull and therefore failed in engaging us. Hence , limited the possibility of spreading a great idea.
A speaker who wants to move the audience in any way need to connect, ”touch” and engage the audience. A speaker doesn’t do that by being dull.
I believe that at an event as TEDx the speakers should have the caliber of exceptional presentational skills AND content. Both should be extraordinary.
Many of us PAY from our own pocket to see this event. We even have to MOTIVATE why we want to be allowed to attend.
Then the speakers must have it all.