“Your number one task as a speaker is to transfer into an ordinary mind an extraordinary gift – a strange and beautiful object, that we call an idea.” Chris Anderson.

If you’re in sales and marketing, you have probably been busy travelling between the coasts these past couple of weeks, absorbing all the golden nuggets of new ideas from Dreamforce, CEB Summit, and the B2B Forum.  

You’ve probably gotten a chance to sit in on some spellbinding presentations. Maybe you even gave a few talks yourself! In either case, this thought has probably come up, “What makes some presentations more engaging than others?” If you have found yourself onstage in the past, you know the feeling of engagement. It’s the moment when your audience’s eyes are locked onto the stage, and you can feel the wheels in your audience’s minds churning — in perfect synchronicity with your own. This, is the “flow” state that happens between the speaker and their audience.

So how do we get to that flow state? What’s the secret ingredient? Chris Anderson, the creator of TED Talks, guides you on public speaking in this short video, with insights he gathered over years of coaching countless TED speakers.

Chris explains that our worldview is “made up of millions of ideas,” accumulated from our own experiences, the media, friends, family (or great presentations.) On any given subject, your reaction is going to be very different from the reaction of person sitting next to you, based on your different worldviews.

And that’s why ideas are so important.

Chris adds, “If communicated properly, they (ideas) are capable of changing, forever, how someone thinks about the world, and shaping their actions both now and well into the future. Ideas are the most powerful force shaping human culture.”

So, if we all can agree, that building an idea inside the minds of your audience is the goal, how do actually achieve this?

Don’t worry, Chris breaks it down to four simple principles:

Step 1: “Limit your talk to just one major idea.”

Ideas are complex. Focus on just one idea, so you can explain it properly. Give context, share examples, make it vivid – just make sure your idea is the connecting thread throughout the entire talk.

Step 2: “Give your listeners a reason to care.”

People are curious by nature, but first you have to give them a reason to question their own disconnection in their worldview. Use thought-provoking questions to identify why something doesn’t seem right, and needs clarification. If they see a gap in their knowledge, they will want to find out more. It’s only then, that you can…

Step 3: “Build your idea, piece by piece, out of concepts that your audience already understands.”

Express your concepts in your audience’s language — you have to start with where they’re at, using the terms and concepts that they are familiar with. Metaphors, Chris says, “can play a crucial role in showing how the pieces fit together, because they reveal the desired shape of the pattern, based on an idea that the listener already understands.”

Step 4: “Make your idea worth sharing. Ask yourself ‘Who does this idea benefit?’ ”

What ideas are not worth sharing? The ones that only benefit you or your organization. Your audience is smart, and will see right through it. Ask yourself if your idea has the potential to cheer up someone else’s day, or change their perspective about the way that they are doing their jobs, or inspire someone to think differently? If you have at least one yes, then you have the key ingredient to having a great talk that others can benefit from!

Can your organization take these simple public speaking guidelines to influence your customers, on and off the stage? Isn’t sales and marketing just about how we get our potential customers to understand and relate to the ideas that we want to convey? Let us know what you think.