February 18

Does your presentation pass the TED Test?


Imagine having just 18 minutes to deliver your sales presentation. Could you make your key point, engage your prospect, and motivate him to take action?

Thousands of TED speakers attempt to do just that with audiences each year — many with fantastic levels of success. Ted Talks are viewed about 1.5 million times a day and, fair or not, they have raised the bar on what your audience expects from a sales presentation.

How do you stack up to TED?

Odds are your prospect watches TED Talks, as do your competitors. So it’s important to know how your presentation stacks up to the comparison. Here are some important questions to ask yourself and tips you should consider applying to your presentation to stand out with today’s savvy audiences:

  1. Do you stick to one big idea?

    If you have a fairly complex solution, sticking to one idea probably sounds near impossible. Yet TED Talks take on some pretty complex topics (Poverty, robots, disease) all within 18 minutes or less. Instead of a hailstorm of information which complex topic might warrant, good TED speakers maintain focus by organizing their content around one main idea that ties it all together and makes it easier for the audience to remember. Read more about how to highlight your One Big Idea here.

  2.  Do you hook with your opening?

    TED presenters know they have to grab their audience with a powerful opening, and a hook is the way to do that. A hook is an attention-grabbing device that relates to or introduces the topic. Whether it’s a story, a quote, or an insight, statistic, or question, the hook starts the presentation off on a strong and relevant note. (BTW, your company overview is NOT a hook.)

  3. Do you use a catchphrase?

    Successful TED Talks often repeat a phrase that quickly summarizes their idea to help the audience remember it. Think of “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” from Simon Sinek’s popular Ted Talk, or “Decision is the ultimate power,” from Tony Robbins. Incorporating a catchy phrase that encapsulates your key point or differentiator, like “a small change can make a big impact” will serve to anchor your presentation in a prospect’s mind.

  4. Are you telling a story?

    The most popular TED Talks open with a personal story. Storytelling is an extremely effective technique for increasing the emotional engagement of your audience. Relatively underused (or poorly used) in sales presentations, storytelling scores high on the attention meter when done well and quickly tied into the prospect’s challenge or situation. See tips here on how to use storytelling effectively in a presentation.

  5. Is your structure built to persuade?

    One of the most effective structures for persuasive speeches and presentations, is broken into three parts: “situation-complication-resolution.” This persuasive structure is very popular among many successful TED presenters, like Daniel Pink, and I highly recommend it for moving prospects to take action in a sales presentation. Check out my post on “Building a Persuasive Presentation

How did you do?

Photo courtesy of urban_data Flickr


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