In this post, taken from my book “CAPTIVATE: Public Speaking Secrets from TED Talks“, you will learn one tip that for keeping your audience engaged and curious.
But first, watch this great TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal:
Did you enjoy the TED Talk? If you’re anything like me, I’m betting you did!
What public speaking tip can we learn from Kelly’s TED talk?
Kelly does something that every speaker should learn from.
She prolongs her audience’s curiosity.
What do I mean by that?
Well, let me demonstrate by giving you an example.
Here’s what Kelly says:
“For years I’ve been telling people, stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, I’ve turned stress into the enemy. But I have changed my mind about stress, and today, I want to change yours.”
After hearing the above, what do you think the audience is thinking?
They’re probably thinking, “So Kelly, what is your new belief about stress?” They’re curious to find out Kelly’s new conclusion about stress.
The public speaking mistake most speakers would make
However, here’s where most average speakers would make a mistake. They would crush the audience’s curiosity by giving away too much too early. They would say something along the lines of:
“The mistake is that we see stress as a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s our belief about it that determines how stress affects us. If we believe that stress is harmful, then it will be. However, if we do not view stress as harmful, it does not harm us.”
While this isn’t terrible, you can do better by prolonging the audience’s curiosity, as Kelly does. Instead of immediately giving away her conclusion about stress, she dives into some research.
“But I have changed my mind about stress, and today, I want to change yours. Let me start with the study that made me rethink my whole approach to stress. This study tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for eight years..”
Tease your audience
Sharing the research before sharing the conclusion has two advantages: First, it prolongs the audience’s curiosity. It teases them into wanting to know the answer. This is a much better approach than sharing the conclusion first and then revealing the research.
The second advantage of sharing the research before the conclusion is that it allows Kelly’s audience to naturally and logically come to the conclusion she wants them to arrive at. As a result, they are more likely to buy into the conclusion because they were guided to it instead of it being forced upon them.
Keep your audience engaged by keeping them curious
So here’s a great public speaking tip from TED Talks: As a speaker, you should always look for ways to prolong your audience’s curiosity. Once their curiosity about a certain thing ends (e.g. you answer one of the questions they were curious about), you immediately introduce a second aspect (e.g. another question) to make sure they stay curious, and therefore engaged.
Want more public speaking tips from TED talks?
Then check out my book “CAPTIVATE: Public Speaking Secrets from TED Talks“