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TEDx—The Art of the Talk

Last week I attended the TEDxCincy event. With over 18 talks, ranging from three to 18 minutes each in a four-hour time frame, I was empowered by the “design” of the presentations. Many of us who work in the design industry are challenged with creating riveting and relevant presentations for clients on a daily basis. My TED takeaway was not the next “big idea” but rather the beauty and creative details that the presenters used to ensure their talk was engaging and memorable:

1. Inject a touch of humor.
Dr. Pramod P. Reddy, MD, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, spoke on prenatal interventions—a “Womb with a View.” He made the crowd laugh as he demonstrated how the art of medical imaging is transforming pediatric care by now embracing fetal care through the latest imaging technology. His graphic images were somewhat intense at times, but he was able to take a very serious, emotional issue and keep it lighthearted with a little humor.

2. Show your passion.
Within minutes of walking out onto the stage, Dr. Ephraim Gutmark, an aerospace engineer and Sid Khosla, MD, a surgeon specializing in treating voice and swallowing disorders, proclaimed themselves as “voice nerds.” Their partnership and passion for restoring voices has been recognized nationally. Watching real life videos of vocal cords and their sounds was interesting, and even jaw dropping at times. Their passion was demonstrated by sharing compelling real life stories with real results, and their pride in their work was evident.

3. Perform.
Local Cincinnati artist Jesse Mooney-Bullock talked about his obsession with building the perfect puppet. While photographs gave us a snapshot of his detailed craftsmanship, it was his own Q&A with his beautifully crafted baboon puppet that brought his passion to life. His product visually represented his passion for developing a puppet that fully integrated the form and function of the real animal. The audience was engaged as though we were at a theatre production. You could tell, and he later expressed, his love of performing pushed him to this craft. It makes me think that a bit of theater, practice and confidence can feed both the audience and the presenter.

4. Tickle the audience’s senses.
When it comes to creating presentations, one’s voice is typically the medium to deliver the message. I love the way Chef Meg Galvin, a local Cincinnatian, integrated additional sensorial touch points to make her talk come alive. In discussing the topic of processed versus real food, she dished out samples of cheese, Asiago and Velveeta. I sat up, put my pen down and became engaged by touching and holding the cheese. Smelling the samples suddenly brought forth new dimensions that were relevant to the topic. I realized that her point that processed foods have little to no smell was true. And, finally, when my sense of taste took over, I opted for the earthly smell of Asiago. While the opportunity to engage your consumer’s senses will vary by topic, do your best to tap into them. You’ll be the one they are talking about after the presentation.

5. Live performances rock.
Live performances from the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), Higher Level Art and Elementz were inspiring, fascinating and captivating. I was particularly touched by our local SCPA students performing with such confidence, conviction and composure. The rhythm, emotion and talent evoked a feeling of pride and reflected their passion. How can we bring real life experiences to the daily work of our clients? How can we integrate this feeling of emotion into our voices?

Do you have a storytelling tactic? We would love to hear it.

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