A little over a year ago, while on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, several of my coworkers and I had the opportunity to meet a Masai child by the name of Richard Turere, who was 12 years old at the time and shared an amazing tale with us. His family keeps cattle on the outskirts of a massive national park, and one of the most difficult tasks they have is defending the animals, particularly at night, from lions. Richard had seen that installing lighting in a field did not prevent lion assaults; nevertheless, he found that when he crossed the field while carrying a torch, the lions avoided him. His interest in electronics had begun at an early age, and he had taught himself about the subject by, for instance, disassembling the radio that belonged to his parents. Through the use of solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box, he was able to create a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence, giving the impression of movement that he hoped would frighten away the lions. He used this experience to devise the system. After he installed the lights, the lions ceased their attacks on the humans. Almost immediately, communities located all throughout Kenya started erecting Richard's "lion lights."
The tale was motivational and deserving of the larger audience that our TED conference could provide, but on the surface, Richard appeared like an unusual choice to deliver a TED Talk. The story was worthy of the larger audience that our TED conference could offer. He suffered from extreme shyness. His English was full with pauses. When he attempted to explain his creation, the sentences just tumbled out of his mouth without making any sense. And to be honest, it was difficult to see a preteenager going on stage in front of 1,400 people who were used to listening to professional speakers like Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor. But that's exactly what happened.
But because we found Richard's experience to be so interesting, we asked him to share it with the group. In the months leading up to the conference in 2013, we collaborated with him to "frame" his tale. This included determining where the best place to start was and coming up with a condensed and coherent sequence of events. As a result of Richard's innovation, he was awarded a scholarship to one of Kenya's top institutions, and while he was there, he got the opportunity to hone his public speaking skills in front of real audiences on many occasions. It was essential that he work on his self-assurance to the point where his own personality could emerge. When he eventually delivered his presentation at TED, in Long Beach, you could see he was apprehensive, but that just made him more fascinating; people were hanging on his every word. He was tremendously successful. There was no mistaking Richard's self-assurance, and each and every time he smiled, the crowd went weak in the knees. After he had finished speaking, there was an instant reaction, which was a prolonged standing ovation.
Speakers at TED conferences have ranged from well-known politicians, artists, and television celebrities who are entirely at home in front of a public to lesser-known academics, scientists, and authors, some of whom suffer extreme discomfort while making presentations. The first TED conference was held thirty years ago. Throughout the years, one of our goals has been to devise a method that will assist novice presenters in formulating, perfecting, and delivering talks that audiences find entertaining to watch. In most cases, it starts six to nine months before the actual event and consists of iterative processes of writing (and editing) a script, many rounds of rehearsals, and a substantial amount of fine-tuning. We are always adjusting our strategy since the art of public speaking is constantly developing in real time, but based on the feedback we get from the audience, our fundamental routine seems to be successful: Since we first began uploading TED Talks to the internet in 2006, there have been more than one billion people who have watched them.
My observations have led me to the conclusion that there is a great deal of room for improvement in the art of public speaking. The topic and delivery of a speaker may go from confusing to enthralling in just a few short hours with little practice and preparation. And although the experience that my team has had has been centered on TED's 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the principles that we've learned are definitely beneficial to other presenters, whether it's a CEO performing an IPO road show, a brand manager launching a new product, or a start-up pitching to venture capitalists.
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Human Resource Management0
Human Resource Management0