TED talks have taken over the Internet. Their success isn’t limited to America, where they started, but there are now TEDx talks held all around the world as well as many of the most popular talks having been translated into a plethora of languages.
Part of their success is in now short measure due to the subject matter and the experts who present their talks. Hearing a leading authority talking about the latests developments in a new area is exciting, but there is also a large role played by the formate and skills that great TED speakers use. After all, these speakers give hundreds of talks a year, yet their TED talks are the ones which are widely spread.
As such, it would be silly for pastors and members of the church to ignore the lessons that could be learnt from TED talks to try and improve their sermons and other presentation.
[Note: This doesn’t mean you have to adopt every aspect of TED talks and blindly completely change your churches service format, but maybe you can adopt aspects of TED talks in your own practice.]
In Carmine Callo’s book “Talk like TED”, he identified 9 traits which separate the greatest TED talks from the rest.
- Unleash the Master Within (if you’re not passionate about a topic, how do you expect to motivate and interest others?)
- Tell Three Stories (stories are very powerful, it’s much easier to remember a story than a plain fact and it helps show the persons viewpoint, making them more relatable)
- Practice Relentlessly (practice makes perfect and if you want to make sure you don’t forget that important part, or lose your place then you should practice. That’s not to say you need to recite verbatim)
- Teach Your Audience Something New (people love hearing something new, especially when it shakes what they thought they knew before. Sure it can be negative if it challenges too deep a notion or something which they hold as part of their identity, but a new fact will win you fans)
- Deliver Jaw Dropping moments (this is something which summons up a powerful emotion like joy, fear, shock or surprise. It will stand out if nothing else does.)
- Use Humour without telling jokes (humour makes you more approachable and likeable, but jokes are very subjective. Self deprecating humour and observations can be much more universal).
- Stick to the 18 minute Rule (I’m sure this is controversial but Gallo insists that 18 minutes is the most someone can concentrate on a subject for a set period of time, after that their minds will start to wander. Ted organisers believe that 18 is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attentions.)
- Favor Pictures Over Text (don’t you hate presentations where people just read from slides. I mean you or I could just do that in our free time. Besides pictures help provide a visual memory prompt to go along with what we are hearing and that’s powerful.)
- Stay in Your Lane (Gallo advises people to be authentic and open about themselves. People respect and trust that authenticity and often want to know more because of it.)
Although Carmin gives some great tips for delivering better talks I do still wonder if it’s really good to emulate TED? After all some people prefer longer sermons than 18 minutes (though Carmin does mention you could go for longer, but try to break up the time so it’s not just you speaking for 1hr). And other churches may not want the pastor making jokes during the sermon (especially if the pastor doesn’t have the best sense of humor).
Still maybe there are a few things we can all take from this idea, and talk more like TED.