Nothing can compare to the rush of adrenaline that comes with presenting in front of a large audience. Whenever I step onto a stage, I am filled with feelings of excitement and responsibility. On one hand, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to share my ideas with the people around me. Yet, I also recognize the monumental duty to meet audience expectations of style and substance.
Fortunately, oral presentations have always come naturally to me. In high school, I actively participated in debate tournaments and case competitions. (Did you know that I won first place internationally?) Even in elementary school, I voiced my opinions in a variety of student leadership roles. I have fond memories of rubbing shoulders with the bigwigs at Queen’s Park while serving in the legislative chamber.
Can you spot the brace-faced eighth-grade keener in this image?
Over the past few weeks, my teammates and I have embraced the TED Talk project as a platform for trying out new oral communication strategies. We took some calculated risks by using some unconventional tools and techniques. In the end, we were delighted by the positive feedback that we received. Here are some of the effective tactics we used in our presentation:
- Collaborative Brainstorming
In the spirit of open-mindedness, our team started off the project by holding several brainstorming sessions. We posed open-ended, thought-provoking questions to one another, and refrained from prematurely rejecting any ideas. By doing so, we collected a broad range of ideas pertaining to our general topic. These initial stages were critical for defining the scope and structure of our presentation.
- Google Slides
Most people consider Microsoft PowerPoint to be the ‘standard’ tool for creating slides. Although PowerPoint offers an advanced set of features, it lacks a robust collaboration platform. From the very beginning, my peers and I realized the importance of creating a unified and consistent set of slides. As such, we chose to try Google Slides – which none of us had previously used – for this talk. We were quite pleased with Google’s real-time editing features and intuitive interface.
- Bold Colour Scheme
Arguably, formal slide decks in the business world are fairly dull. They are often limited to one or two colours, to align with corporate branding. For our TED Talk, we leveraged our creative freedom to expand our colour palette. Our goal was to visually distinguish between the various themes of our talk. For example, green corresponded to personal finance in general, while blue referred to the sub-topic of borrowing. By using vibrant colours throughout our presentation, we were able to create a better sense of structure.
- Unique Perspectives
Passion is contagious, so there is no better way to engage an audience than to exude enthusiasm for the content at hand. During my talk, I drew parallels between literacy (reading and writing) and financial literacy (money management) to illustrate the importance of sound financial decision making. To demonstrate my personal ethos, I referenced my previous co-op work term at Deloitte, during which I gained firsthand experience into the exciting field of financial technology. Overall, I tried to inspire my audience to become interested in personal finance.
- Personal Stories
I took a significant risk by bringing up a sensitive personal story during my talk. To highlight the value of maintaining an emergency fund, I opened up about how my father was recently involved in a serious car accident. I was careful to choose and crop an image that was less disturbing to audience members, but was still powerful enough to stimulate audience emotions. By applying the technique of pathos, I added a layer of depth to my presentation.
Summing up, our group chose to step outside of our comfort zone for the TED Talk project. Given our collaborative and creative approach, we were able to try out new collaboration tactics, creative tools, and communication strategies. Ultimately, we felt that our efforts paid off, through an engaging final presentation. We encourage you to try out some of these ideas in your next talk!
I was very impressed with the presentations delivered by other groups as well. One particularly noteworthy technique, in my opinion, was the team discussion by the “Super Mathies.” To conclude their talk about mathematics in the context of sports, these presenters held a mini-debate about the merits of quantifying recreational behaviour. I liked how the group members offered contrasting perspectives, which empowered the audience to think critically about the subject matter at hand.
To me, the concept of a TED Talk is all about making advanced concepts accessible to broad audiences within a short period of time. It is a powerful way of sharing ideas and inspiring others. I have truly enjoyed the oral communication unit of the course, and can’t wait to learn more about proposal writing.