Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fwd: Why Tim Urban's talk became such an instant success

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From: Neil Gordon

While most of the top TED talks have been around for many years, Tim Urban's talk "Inside the mind of a master procrastinator" went up more than a decade later.

And it's easy to understand why – Tim's talk features a homemade construct of specialized terms that satirizes the dense intellectual work of social scientists and uses a series of goofy, poorly drawn stick figures as visual aids to illustrate this construct.

His theme? Procrastination.

He takes the audience through how his procrastination has plagued him his whole life, including waiting until the final two days before deadline to write a 90-page thesis paper back when he was in school.

He explores other ways that people procrastinate as well, and even offers an interesting idea regarding the challenges of procrastinators when they don't have specific deadlines – that procrastination is undermining the work of entrepreneurship and other self-led endeavors.

But one particular way that he relates to this quality in his own life is when he tells the story of the TED people approaching him to do the very talk he was giving right in that very moment. He described how he procrastinated in doing a talk on procrastination!

What this meant, other than that he gave the audience a good laugh, is that he did something that has the potential to be very powerful when putting together content as a public speaker…

He connected the theme of his talk to the experience they were sharing in the room in real time.

Now, this might seem like a fairly obvious observation to make. But the implications can actually be rather profound. I recently had a conversation with a client who showed me an example of a speech he gave. He speaks on the value of taking risks and trying things out even if they might not work. In his video, he told a pretty ambitious story – which was a risk in its own right. And then he lost his place in the story, even though the speech was being delivered to thousands of people.

The opportunity? In a moment like that, he can connect the theme of his talk – taking a risk even if it doesn't work out – to the experience they were sharing in the room in real time.

What that might look like would be saying something along the lines of, "See? Right here and now I'm taking a risk. And a case can be made that it's not exactly working out the way I wanted it to." Then, he could go on and make the larger point that is anchored by the broader scope of his message.

A unique feature of public speaking as a body of content is that there are people in a room with you experiencing that content in real time. This is a departure from a book, a filmed video, or even an email like the one you're reading right now. Because you're sharing an experience with them right then and there, you have an opportunity to connect some aspect of their experience with the very message you're there to share that day.

If you're speaking on the significance of finding courage, you could tap into how courageous they do or do not feel at some point in the talk. If you're talking about how to respond to unexpected moments, you could simulate a moment that the audience wouldn't expect and then check in with them on how they feel right then and there. There's a huge variety of different ways that a speaker can relate their topic to that particular audience's experience in real time.

And as long as it's in support of your message, it will reinforce the power and impact of their having seen you live.

To view Tim Urban's talk, click here: https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator



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