stopwatchLately, I have been immersing myself in the world of TED talks. Not only are the speakers often presenting fascinating topics, but studying their presentation and storytelling styles can be transferred to other aspects of my business.

I am presenting my first TEDx talk on Saturday, May 30. What you may not realize, is that many of the most-viewed talks were not presented on the main TED stage, but at smaller, regional events like the one I will be speaking at.

As an example, Simon Sinek’s talk “How great leaders inspire action” has more than 22 million views – and that was given at a TEDxPugetSound event. I am guessing there were just a few hundred people in the audience.

I am looking at this opportunity as a lottery ticket. I might get 40 views, 4,000 views, or 4,000,000 views.

Talks that the TED advisory committee like get posted on the home page and shared via social media. If you hit a topic of interest to people – jackpot!

Whatever happens, I will have received some huge benefits:

  • I am now vetted by a respected organization as a professional speaker and thought leader.
  • My speaking skills have gotten significantly better as I strive not to suck and embarrass myself on a global platform.
  • I have cut through the noise on social media and received a lot of attention from friends, colleagues, and clients as a result of this opportunity.

My 18 minutes of fame.

I am going to share with you the fact that this short-form talk format is BRUTAL. A colleague said they spent 200 hours working on their talk.

Each word and action become increasingly important. You cannot phone it in when you have a specific point of view to present and defend with no audience interaction in a fixed timeframe.

I am an experienced and confident presenter. I spoke 20 times last year. However, I am rehearsing long and hard for this talk.

I even worked with a presentation coach, getting videotaped and critiqued. We dissected my talk’s story arc, my vocal pacing, my gestures, and my filler words. It was an amazing – and absolutely exhausting – experience.

I believe that the TED format, and the fact that so many of us are watching these talks, will motivate many presenters to up their games.

From small business sales presentations to workshops and training, we would all be well served to prepare more, tighten things up, and rehearse until we nail it.

Attention is a valuable commodity. You need to work hard to get people to give you their attention these days. And you need to make it worth their time.