4 things about hosting virtual meetings you can learn from TED Talks


With more than a billion views, TED Talks are clearly doing something right. So, what is it that makes them such a success? Here are four tried and true techniques that some of the most viewed TED Talks have in common.

  1. They’re the right length—While there are talks up to 60 minutes, the average and most well-known length is 18 minutes or fewer, as reported by Forbes. When facing pushback on this length, TED Talks founder Chris Anderson often guides speakers to fit within the time limit by quoting President Woodrow Wilson (according to Forbes): “If it’s a 10-minute speech, it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it; if it’s a half-hour speech, it takes me a week; if I can talk as long as I want to, it requires no preparation at all. I am ready now.” Concise and strategically planned presentations are key.
  1. They focus on the right topic—Choose a topic that’s meaningful to you, that you’re knowledgeable about, and you’re comfortable talking about in depth. If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, your audience won’t either. Having something worth saying is more important than stage presence and confidence in public speaking, Anderson explains to Forbes.
  1. They use top-notch presentation skills—While having something worth saying is key, you still need presentation skills to back it up or your presentation may fall flat. Even though you might not be presenting in person, being personable and accessible is essential. According to research by the Science of People regarding the most viewed TED Talks, audiences liked the speakers just as much with the audio on as they did when the volume was muted.

They also discovered the more hand gestures, the more successful the talk. They reported that the bottom TED Talks had an average of 124,000 views and the speakers used an average of 272 hand gestures during the 18-minute talk. The most-viewed had an average of 7,360,000 views and used an average of 465 hand gestures.

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  1. They’re conversational—Scripts are comforting because they help you feel like you know exactly what to say, but planning word-for-word comes off as impersonal. Instead, create an outline with talking points to allow for natural vocal variety. The Science of People discovered a direct correlation between vocal variety and Ted Talk views.

Take your virtual meetings to the next level

Now you know what elements to leverage to make your virtual meetings powerful, dynamic and interesting to attendees. Pair these with the features available in Skype for Business to set your virtual meetings apart. Also, check out The Ultimate Meeting Guide and learn how to run meetings that people want to attend.

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