If you’ve ever lost yourself in a really great TED Talk – like in a FLOW state of mind – perhaps sitting on the driveway for a few extra minutes or even being a bit late for a conference call – you know how inspiring and compelling TED Talks can be.

They are definitely „dangerous“ !

From the neuro-chemical point of view, they make you „addicted to them“, because they produce a release of several neurotransmitters (first among others DOPAMINE) and you can’t help to stop searching and listening to them, once you’ve got your first „TED-Talk High“…

Eighteen minutes seem to fly by, and you end up feeling smarter, or, at least, a little bit inspired.

And our brain in that moment encodes that experience as a „relevant one“ (remember ..our brain is wired to evolve by seeing the dotted-lines, understanding new patterns and learn new things, which may increase our fitness survival); and it“whispers softly in our inner ear“ to look again for that inspiring experience, for having an new release of Dopamine into blood, resulting in a new activation of neural networks, related to our reward cerebral circuits.

Now, the same techniques that make these TED talks so powerful can also make you more compelling in the workplace.

We all know that our attention spans are influences by social media, For example studies show that internet users in average spend ca 2,7 minutes on a internet video.

So, being aware of it and learning from great TED Talk speakers, a good way to capture and hold the attention of your audience is to frame your Q4 budget plan presentation or that conversation with your supervisor at the annual performance appraisal around a unique CORE IDEA.


It seems like a fairly easy piece of advice to use at the workplace, but there are other challenges besides outlining a single idea, like finding the best way to stand out, establishing yourself as a credible speaker, and delivering your message in an engaging way.

TED speakers do these things routinely. Mastering them is no secret, but requires practice.

Here are six ways you can use TED Talk speaking techniques for everything, from asking for a raise to getting your new project off the ground.

1. Focus on your audience

Even if you frame your presentation around one single, unique idea —TED Talk’s main speaking strategy—, you will not be compelling unless you know exactly who you’re talking to.
Most people, especially at work, communicate in the wrong direction. We build our PowerPoint slides, we draft meeting agendas, we fire off emails without stopping to think what our audience needs or expects to gain from the communication.

Michael Port, author of From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches: How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life and co-founder and chairman of Heroic Public Speaking, a speaker training company based in Lambertville, New Jersey, says that you’re more at risk of blowing an exchange if you’re not prepared. When you know your material well and you have practiced what you want to say, you can more easily think on your feet and adapt to a changing situation.

Organizing the information you want to convey into a tight, clean message is “a messy process,” Port says. “Through iteration after iteration, it gets cleaner and tighter, and eventually gets to the point where you feel like you’re delivering your message in the way that you intend,” he adds.

3. Speak clearly

Audiences respond better to familiar language. Jargon and corporate-speak tend to obfuscate meaning. The best TED speakers share well-organized thoughts as if they were chatting with the audience over coffee. To be clear, specific, and simple in your language, you should avoid the following bad habits:

  • Overly complex, formal language (e.g., “Our ability to navigate the trajectory of the new market opportunity is dependent upon our willingness to make astute operational changes.”)
  • Generic, meaningless statements, (e.g., “Our strength is our world-class service.”)
  • Over used phrases with unclear meaning (e.g., „growth mindset“, „digital transformation„, etc.)
  • Clichés (e.g., “Let’s be the Facebook of tax preparation.”)

4. Don’t oversell your promise

One misstep people make in persuasive communication is starting with a big claim to impress the target audience, whether it’s a 300 person auditorium or a 9:00 am managers‘ meeting. When you do that, you’ve immediately set up people to try to disprove what you’ve said, says director, television producer, and corporate consultant Brant Pindivic, author of The 3-Minute Rule: Say Less to Get More from Any Pitch or Presentation. Instead, place your initial focus on the “reason for being.” That is, in a nutshell share why the issue is important to you or why you believe in it.

5. Share why you’re the right messenger

While you may have a goal and a message, others’ expectations of you might be different than what you want to communicate. That can lead to conflict. Getting on the same page about why you’re the right person to lead the team or get the raise needs to be a key part of your message.

One of the things the most compelling TED Talks have in common is that the speaker conveys the fresh perspective they bring to the subject. This is not done in the form of a resume regurgitation, but rather, the speaker is able to build his/her credibility by using engaging examples or by sharing unique personal stories.

After all, competing with daily distractions is something everyone has to do to be heard these days. Any of these techniques might give you a better shot, and –who knows?– maybe even a round of applause.

6. Conclude you talk with a bullet proof call-to-action

You prepared that talk months in advance…. for what ? Which were your goals ? And now what do you want that happens after the talk, ideally on the same day or within one week?
If you do not have a call-to-action element in your script there is an high probability that the audience will forget your words the day after, no matter how good your talk was.

A call-to-action is your final chance to let a foot-print in the brains of your audience’s participants. It is your last chance to make sure that your last word resonates in a way that the people, listening to you, feel spontaneously inspired/motivate to „do something“ aligned with your talk’s intention.

Marco Giannecchini

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