TED Talk Secrets That Will Make You a Superior Leader

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A little over a week ago, I was on a stage in Vancouver, BC, giving a TEDx talk about creativity to 2,700 people. The video will soon be available online, where it could be seen by (fingers crossed!) millions.

The road to a TEDx talk—whether it’s seen by millions or just dozens—is a long one. At this point, of course, I don’t know whether my talk will hit millions of views, dozens, or somewhere in between. But I do know two things:

  1. The standing ovation from the 2,700 people there was extremely gratifying, and
  2. I learned a few things along the way that are relevant to all leaders in every industry.

In particular, there are three big lessons from TEDx that all leaders should heed.

1. Have something worth saying.

The motto for both TED and TEDx is a simple, yet profound one: ideas worth spreading. Before I was able to write the first word of the first draft of my talk, I had to think about this. What was my “idea worth spreading”? What message could I deliver on that stage that would resonate with, and positively impact, my audience? As a leader, you should be going through this same process. What is your “idea worth spreading”? Because if you don’t have one, then why should anyone follow you?

As a #leader, do you have an “idea worth spreading”? If not, why should anyone follow you? #Leadership Click To Tweet

2. Preparation is everything!

In the months leading up to my TEDx talk, I rehearsed those 15 minutes at least twice a day—often even more. I wanted to know my talk so well that, when I finally hit that stage, I could devote 100% of my energy to the audience—not to “what am I supposed to say next?” Did I truly need all of those run-throughs? I don’t know. But when I was on that stage, I didn’t regret a single one of them. And I’d rather over prepare and have no regrets than under prepare and have many. You may not have a speech to memorize. For you, it might be a multi-day strategic planning meeting, or a sensitive phone call to an important client, or a presentation at a shareholder meeting. Whatever it is for you—wouldn’t you rather over prepare and have no regrets than under prepare and have many?

Better to over prepare and have no regrets than under prepare and have many. #Leadership #TEDx Click To Tweet

3. It’s all about the story.

Please understand this: you’ll never be a truly effective leader until you become a master at telling stories. I know, I know. “Storytelling is what you do to get your 4-year-old to fall asleep; what does it have to do with leadership?” Well, there’s a reason why the most compelling TED talks also have the most compelling stories. It’s because our brains are literally hard-wired for stories. (You can read some of the research here.) Watch some of the great TED talks, and listen to the audience’s reaction to a great story. It’s the sound of an audience that’s engaged, enthralled, and fully present. Would you like that kind of reaction from your team? Then tell a great story!

Whether you’re giving a TED talk in front of thousands, or simply running your weekly staff meeting, these three lessons will help make you a better—and more compelling—leader.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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