Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Workshop: What goes into a TED-quality talk, 15 April in Cambridge, UK

I'm delighted to announce my newest and next workshop for speakers and speechwriters: What goes into a TED-quality talk, set for 15 April in Cambridge, England, at the Spring Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference.

This full-day, in-depth session will help speakers, speechwriters, and conference organizers--including those organizing or speaking at TEDx conferences--to learn from my experiences coaching nearly 100 speakers for talks that appeared on the TEDMED stage, at TEDx conferences around the world, and on TED.com. I've given talks about crafting TED talks before, but this workshop will dive deeper, helping you get a head start on an excellent talk whether you're writing, producing, or delivering it.

I'll show you what goes into a presentation that achieves a TED standard,  so that your 18-minute-or-less talk can go beyond merely mimicking the style to create your own original and compelling TED talk. You’ll discover how to plan for video as well as for the stage, and how to think about delivery as well as structure and preparation. You’ll study why and how TED presentations engage, surprise, intrigue, inspire and put forward “ideas worth sharing." 

Specifically, you will learn to use the following tools:
  1. How to get past the obvious and identify the real story that will become your script
  2. Vulnerability, intrigue and more: the qualities that take TED talks viral
  3. What to leave out of your talk
  4. Structures and how much you can get into the shorter formats
  5. How to decide whether you benefit from props, slides, or a demonstration
  6. Considerations that will help you plan for the video
  7. Top delivery tips specific to TED talks, from strong starts to gesture, pace, and vocalizing
This will be a hands-on workshop, so feel free to bring a laptop both for notes and to get started on or refine your TED talk. If you know you'll be speaking at or organizing a TEDx conference in the coming year, this is a focused day to get the coaching you need to shine. If you're writing "TED-like" or "TED-style" talks for your speaker, come find out how to elevate them to TED-quality talks.

The workshop is a pre-conference session, and you can register for both the workshop and the conference, or just the workshop--although I recommend you attend both sessions. This is a joint meeting of the UK Speechwriters Guild and the European Speechwriter Network. We're meeting at Westminster College at the University of Cambridge in England, an easy train ride from London and a beautiful setting for learning about TED-quality talks. You can book accommodations in the college on the registration page.

Register and get the reader discount

Readers of mine get a special discount: Sign up for What goes into a TED-quality talk and get a £100 discount with the promotion code EloquentTED. (That's just over $155 in US dollars at the moment.) You can register for the workshop and the conference here.

I hope you'll join me for this new and useful workshop, but if you're unsure, check out these testimonials from speakers I've coached and from workshop attendees:

"How good is Denise as a speech coach? I would call her a professional's professional. You can be in the business 25 years and still learn a lot from her, in part because she herself is always learning and growing....As an added bonus, she's really fun to work with."

--Marcus Webb, chief storytelling officer, TEDMED

"Denise helped me immensely with my TEDx talk, providing edits to the content and expert coaching on my delivery, stage presence, and tone. She also had lots of very practical advice and tricks-of-the-trade that I'll be able to use for future presentations." 

--Megan Moynahan, executive director of the Institute for Functional Restoration at Case Western Reserve University and chief policy officer at Scanadu

"My talks were extremely well received, something which I attribute significantly to Denise’s help. In the workshop, I defined what eloquent meant to me as “poised”, which is exactly the word a conference organiser used to describe me on stage. I recommend Denise wholeheartedly...."
--Cate Huston, software engineer

"Denise prepared for my TEDMED talk. I don't mind speaking to small groups or teaching, but the idea of performing -- what a horror. I'm the valedictorian who skipped town and missed her graduation because she didn't want to explain why she wouldn't / couldn't give the class graduation speech. How was this basket case of a speaker supposed to do a TEDMED talk in front of a thousand people? -- Denise helped me make it happen!"

--Sigrid Fry-Revere, President of he Center for Ethical Solutions

"I found her instruction clear and insightful, her tips useful and her presentation style engaging....Denise can offer you practical guidance that you'll be able to put into practice immediately. I particularly appreciated her emphasis on understanding a speaker's needs and motivations in order to help them deliver the best possible presentation."

--Binghamton University's director of research advancement Rachel Coker

"If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with @dontgetcaught, do it! Best training I've ever had. Informative and eye-opening."

--Ashley Berthelot, director of research communications, Louisiana State University

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
If you found this post useful, please subscribe or make a one-time donation to help support the thousands of hours that go into researching and curating this content for you. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014's top 10 Famous Speech Friday posts on The Eloquent Woman

In 2014, we skipped well past 160 famous speeches by women in The Eloquent Woman Index, all from our Famous Speech Friday series. The most-read FSF posts published in 2014 about individual speeches reflect the diversity of our speakers and our readers. The list includes a CEO, members of the British Parliament, poets, a novelist, a newspaper editor, a Prime Minister, an actor, and a researcher. These women hail from England, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the United States, and their famous speeches took the form of TED talks, corporate addresses, commencement speeches, spoken-word poems, United Nations addresses, and Parliamentary tributes.That's as solid a bit of evidence as you can find that women are giving famous speeches in many walks of life and formats. Here are your top 10 most-read FSFs for the year:
  1. Chimamanda Adichie's "We should all be feminists" was our first FSF post of the year. This TEDxEuston speech later was sampled by Beyoncé, sending it into public speaking's stratosphere.
  2. Dominique Christina's "The Period Poem" is a message to her teenage daughter after seeing a shaming tweet about menstruation. It's triumphal, funny, and fierce.
  3. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" is another spoken-word poem that's often given as a speech, and here, we published it to mark the great poet's death this year.
  4. Jill Abramson's "to anyone who's been dumped" was a commencement speech given right after she'd been fired in high-profile fashion as the top editor of the New York Times and replaced by a man. It connects with the graduates on the score of uncertain futures.
  5. Benazir Bhutto at the UN Conference on Women made the case that Islam forbids the denigration of women, and made clear that it's social norms, not religion, that enforce patriarchal society.
  6. Tanni Grey-Thompson's "shout a bit louder" on disability was a tribute to a deceased fellow member of the British Parliament who also was disabled. She brings forward the issue by describing her own experiences with misunderstanding and discrimination.
  7. Meryl Streep on Emma Thompson and Walt Disney gave fierce praise to her fellow actor at an awards ceremony, and used a real letter from Disney to illustrate the sexism at that company to highlight the importance of Thompson's role in Saving Mr. Banks.
  8. Brene Brown's 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability is one of the all-time most-watched TED talks and changed this social work researcher's career. You'll love the way she demonstrates vulnerability even as she educates us about it.
  9. Indra Nooyi's "middle finger" speech used the hand and its five fingers as an analogy....and unfortunately, that middle finger got mistaken for something else. The Pepsi CEO, a powerful speaker, delivered this well and without intending that result, but got plenty of outcry over her approach.
  10. Penny Mordaunt's "loyal address" in Parliament was a signal honor, as she was chosen to respond to the Queen's Speech opening Parliament. But as she was only the second woman in the Queen's very long reign to be selected for the honor, she took time to mark that occasion as well.
If you found this post useful, please subscribe or make a one-time donation to help support the thousands of hours that go into researching and curating this content for you. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Eloquent Woman's top 10 public speaking posts for 2014

Practical advice and experiences about public speaking are a mainstay of The Eloquent Woman. Our midweek posts focus squarely on the practical, and the most-read posts about public speaking advice in 2014 share what's on your mind: Slides and presentations, harrassment of women speakers, women's rhetorical style, nerves and public speaking, tools for speakers and the lack of women on conference programs are this year's top topics and tips. You'll see a separate list of our most popular Famous Speech Friday posts for 2014 on Friday.

I'm interested that first-person accounts from speakers I've worked with have a strong lead in this list. The good news? I'm planning more of that in 2015. Here's what you read most in 2014:
  1. Talk About the Talk: Caroline Goyder on confident speaking at TEDxBrixton shares the first-person perspective of a speaker I worked with this year. Goyder shares her prep and delivery insights, and as a bonus, her talk is about confident speaking and using your voice well. The video of her talk has had thousands of views since this post appeared, and it's embedded at the link for you to see.
  2. A reader shares...Returning to the stage after harrassment is the first of three guest posts in the top 10 by ex-Google software engineer Cate Huston, a longtime blog reader who planned her return to speaking after harrassment by taking two of my workshops and working with me 1:1. 
  3. 15 ways I use Evernote for public speaking and coaching speakers shares what might just be my best secret weapon as a coach and as a speaker, it's so darn versatile.
  4. Why "but all my slides are pictures" isn't a smart public speaking strategy pokes a hole in an argument I hear over and over again from speakers who are using slides not wisely, but too well.
  5. Presenting gives me nightmares, but I still do it. Here's how. This post from Huston looks at speaking nerves and how she prepares, a useful look from a now-frequent speaker.
  6. From NASCAR slides to "any questions?" 8 kinds of slides to delete right now. Here's my advice for editing that slide deck. You don't have to like it. You just have to do it.
  7. 12 ways to evaluate speaking gigs for gender bias is my effort to help women speakers consider whether they should say "yes" when invited. We need more women speakers on programs, but not at any cost to the women speakers.
  8. How to give a killer presentation: My #AF4Q notes shares advice I gave to the lively gang of health care community coalitions at their annual meeting. In the picture above, we're all power posing as a confidence boost.
  9. Returning to the stage, part 2: Speaking to dudes about love details Huston's second step forward in her effort to get back to speaking. And to update her story, she's now frequently invited as a speaker and is getting paid for some gigs--real progress for someone who'd taken a hiatus from speaking.
  10. How TEDMED achieved 51 percent women speakers in 2014 is my interview with my client, TEDMED director of stage content Nassim Assefi. All of us working at TEDMED this year were struck by the presence of so many great women speakers in science and medicine, and Assefi shares her perspective on what it takes to do that.
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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
If you found this post useful, please subscribe or make a one-time donation to help support the thousands of hours that go into researching and curating this content for you. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

8 famous speeches by women speakers about (yes) women speakers

You won't mind if we get a little meta this week on Famous Speech Friday, and round up the speeches from The Eloquent Woman Index in which women talk about women and public speaking, will you?

It turns out that many famous speeches by women involve those speakers talking pointedly about the absence of women speakers other than themselves, or women's reluctance to speak publicly, themselves included. After all, they've got the mic. They may as well use it.

And they do it with humor, to inspire, and to caution. The point about speaking women often is the speech's opening salvo, but also may be its primary theme. So this collection of eight speeches also is a great range of examples for any woman speaker. Call that meta, if you wish. I call it magic:
  1. "Two women in 160 years is about par for the course." Ann Richards's 1998 keynote at the Democratic National Convention used a sly dig to note that she was only the second woman to do the honors. It was just the first of a series of great uses of humor in this speech.
  2.  "If you had actually invited any other woman over the last 17 years..." Elisabeth Murdoch gave the coveted MacTaggart Lecture to the UK television industry, but not before she gave the audience a list of the talented women broadcasters they might have invited.
  3. "Asking whether women attorneys speak with a 'different voice' than men do is a question that is both dangerous and unanswerable." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, speaking at a law school's anniversary, took a deep look at the progress of women in law, a profession where there's lots of public speaking going on.
  4. "This might be a Queen’s Speech, but I am only the second woman to propose the Loyal Address in Her Majesty’s long reign." Penny Mordaunt, Member of Parliament in England, followed the first woman MP to respond to the Queen's speech 57 years later, and more than held her own in setting the stage for the parliamentary year.
  5. "When women speak truly they speak subversively--they can't help it: if you're underneath, if you're kept down, you break out, you subvert." Novelist Ursula LeGuin gave a commencement address in the 1980s that urged women to speak up, saying, "We are volcanoes." It's my favorite metaphor for women speakers.
  6. "When listeners hear a female voice, they don’t hear a voice that connotes authority; or rather they have not learned how to hear authority in it..." Mary Beard, a classics scholar, can trace the first recorded instance of a man telling a woman to shut up all the way back to The Odyssey. Her lecture on the public voice of women is a masterpiece.
  7. "I soon saw that it had one fatal drawback. I should never be able to come to a conclusion. I should never be able to fulfil what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer..." Virginia Woolf gave two lectures at the University of Cambridge, later weaving them into A Room of One's Own, a manifesto for women finding their voices in writing and speaking.
  8. "We need to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be flawed, to be imperfect, to own our voice, to step into our light." Actress Kerry Washington admitted in an acceptance speech that she'd turned down a TED talk opportunity, and learned she wasn't the first woman to do so--so she decided to talk about that publicly.
As with all our posts in The Eloquent Woman Index, you'll find (where available) video or audio and text or a transcript of each speech at the links, along with what you can learn for your own public speaking. Please share this important public speaking resource!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Shame and the public speaker: Wisdom from @BreneBrown

This year, I've had a few speakers who came off the stage consumed with shame, convinced they had failed. Some went through that in practice, others when it was time for the real talk. I didn't agree with them at all, but that didn't change the reality of their feeling. The speakers I worked with wanted their videos destroyed or redone, couldn't hear the congratulations, decided their brand-new talk was an utter failure, and didn't see one iota of good in what they had done.

And they have that in common with none other than Brené Brown, whose 2010 TEDxHouston talk on vulnerability is now one of the most-watched TED talks ever. She used a later talk at TED on shame to describe her reaction to that stellar talk, describing a conversation with a friend in which she contemplated how to keep her TEDx video from seeing the light of day. The numbers she's speaking about are the number of people she thinks will see the video:
....[Brown's friend] said, "I saw your talk live-streamed. It was not really you. It was a little different than what you usually do. But it was great." And I said, "This can't happen. YouTube, they're putting this thing on YouTube. And we're going to be talking about 600, 700 people." And she said, "Well, I think it's too late"....
So I looked back up and she said, "Are you really going to try to break in and steal the video before they put it on YouTube?" And I said, "I'm just thinking about it a little bit." She said, "You're like the worst vulnerability role model ever." And then I looked at her and I said something that at the time felt a little dramatic, but ended up being more prophetic than dramatic. I said, "If 500 turns into 1,000 or 2,000, my life is over." I had no contingency plan for four million. 
And my life did end when that happened. And maybe the hardest part about my life ending is that I learned something hard about myself, and that was that, as much as I would be frustrated about not being able to get my work out to the world, there was a part of me that was working very hard to engineer staying small, staying right under the radar.
Some of the ashamed speakers I've worked with have said that they wanted their talks to be perfect. Brown says shame is the birthplace of perfectionism. She's quick to differentiate shame--the idea that you are bad--from guilt, which focuses more on your behavior than you, and embarrassment, in which we know that we share this same feeling with many people. Shame (and its cousin perfectionism), on the other hand, feels isolating. It's about not feeling good enough, or worthy, of the praise you are getting. "Who do you think you are?" is a common self-reflection when you're feeling shame, Brown says.

Brown has recorded a short and outstanding audiobook on shame, worth reading particularly for learning about the ways shame differs for men and women. Men, Women and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough will walk you through how shame differs from other, related feelings, and how men and women experience it differently. Appearance, for example, plays a major role in shame for women. As a woman speaker, you should have this on your list.

In her TED talk, Brown said, " For women, shame is do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat....Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we're supposed to be. And it's a straight-jacket."

Public speaking is risky, and to be successful, it requires you to be out of that straight-jacket, accessible, and vulnerable. There's no better way to connect with an audience. But as Kerry Washington said in a recent speech:
....we as women put ourselves in this situation of feeling like we can’t take a risk, like in order to step out there we have to be perfect, because we’re scared that if we don’t say the right thing, or do the right thing, that we’ll reflect poorly on ourselves and our community, whether that community be women, people of color, both.
Only with risk can you have great reward, and only when you feel you're good enough will you be able to hear the praise. Or, as John Steinbeck wrote, "And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” It's worth remembering that approaching a talk as a perfectionist means you are doomed to be disappointed, no matter what you do. It can hamstring a speaker like nothing else. But if you want to be good, you'll understand the risks and the rewards, and do the best you can.

One of my clients messaged me after a big new keynote she and I had worked on. Her report was pretty dismal: She didn't feel rested, followed a great speaker, heard people talking during her talk, and analyzed the Twitter stream and found it lacking. She was being paid for this keynote, and had wanted to deliver a good quality talk. But now, she sounded ready to toss the talk, even though it was one she hoped to give with variations for a few months more.

The next day, the organizers told her they saw it completely differently. They loved her talk, had had fantastic audience feedback, and, on the strength of that, invited her to speak again later this year. So much for the speaker's perspective.

So here's a thought, speakers, when you are feeling shame about a talk that others are telling you they honestly feel was good: Why not sit down and figure out, in Brown's words, which part of you is "working very hard to engineer staying small, staying right under the radar"? Because if you let perfectionism and shame keep you and your talk offstage, that's exactly what you will be doing. And then you'd be silencing yourself as a speaker.

Watch Brown's TED talk about shame, which is funny, wise, and revealing. And that TEDx talk she was worried would be seen by 500 to 700 people? It's up to 17 million views as of this writing, and it's completely changed Brown's life, work, and success. I'm so glad she didn't succeed in limiting those views of her wonderful first TED talk.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
If you found this post useful, please subscribe or make a one-time donation to help support the thousands of hours that go into researching and curating this content for you. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Famous Speech Friday: Sheena Iyengar's TED talk on the art of choosing

Psycho-economist Sheena Iyengar does her research at Columbia Business School, and has published the popular book The Art of Choosing to describe her findings on what happens when we have too many--or not enough--choices, and how we make decisions large and small, from which soda to drink to whether to pursue physician-assisted suicide. And when she spoke at TED Global in 2010, she joined the ranks of one of the very few TED speakers to use a lectern. But that was only because she happens to be blind.

Until an aide helped her walk across the stage to that lectern, no mention of her blindness had been made in the program. And then the audience got to hear a clear-as-a-bell description of the experiments she has conducted that let us see our own choices. The woman whose own choices don't include vision then used those findings to explain that Americans are a nation that believes in limitless choices:
The story Americans tell, the story upon which the American dream depends, is the story of limitless choice. This narrative promises so much:freedom, happiness, success. It lays the world at your feet and says, "You can have anything, everything." It's a great story, and it's understandable why they would be reluctant to revise it. But when you take a close look, you start to see the holes, and you start to see that the story can be told in many other ways.

Americans have so often tried to disseminate their ideas of choice, believing that they will be, or ought to be, welcomed with open hearts and minds. But the history books and the daily news tell us it doesn't always work out that way. The phantasmagoria, the actual experience that we try to understand and organize through narrative, varies from place to place. No single narrative serves the needs of everyone everywhere. Moreover, Americans themselves could benefit from incorporating new perspectives into their own narrative, which has been driving their choices for so long.
At the end of her talk, the host comes out on the stage with her and says, "Sheena, there is a detail about your biography that we have not written in the program book. But by now it's evident to everyone in this room. You're blind. And I guess one of the questions on everybody's mind is: How does that influence your study of choosing because that's an activity that for most people is associated with visual inputs like aesthetics and color and so on?" Her answer involves a personal story about trying to choose between two similar shades of nail polish, based on the recommendations of others--and how that prompted yet another piece of research.

What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Your limitations don't have to prevent you from speaking: Having help to walk on and offstage and a lectern are all the "extras" Iyengar needed to deliver this talk. Otherwise, it's a classic TED talk, mixing intriguing research that makes us think about ourselves in a new way with personal stories from the speaker. Think about that the next time you're considering what limits you from speaking. 
  • If you're speaking about research, aim for clarity: Iyengar's work looks at complex decision-making processes, most of which we experience but take for granted and don't examine closely. Yet her descriptions of the research are brief and clear, able to be understood by all because they're described in simple, approachable ways. Many researchers fret about having to "dumb down" their explanation of their work, which insults the audience. Iyengar makes it clear so we can follow her complex thinking. It makes a big difference. 
  • How will you describe yourself? Every speaker needs to anticipate speaking about herself, whether she's introducing herself, telling a personal story or explaining in answer to the host's question how her blindness affects her work. Iyengar handles this smoothly, noting "one of the things that's interesting about being blind is you actually get a different vantage point when you observe the way sighted people make choices," then tells her nail polish story. Turns out that sighted people aren't terribly good at descriptions. Iyengar is comfortable describing herself. Can you be? 
You can read the transcript of her talk here and watch the video below. I thank reader Cate Huston for pointing me to this speech. Watch and learn from it.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Talk About the Talk: Caroline Goyder on confident speaking at @TEDxBrixton

(Editor's note: I'm launching a new series, Talk About the Talk, in which I'll ask speakers I've worked with to share their perspectives about giving big or important talks. First up is Caroline Goyder, who spoke this autumn at TEDxBrixton on "the surprising secret to speaking with confidence." It's a fit topic for speaker coach Goyder, who worked for 10 years at Central School of Speech and Drama in London and has an MA in voice studies from there. She's also the author of Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority

Some observers dismiss TEDx conferences. But in my experience, most organizers and speakers take TEDx seriously, investing many hours in preparation, talk reviews, and coaching. It's always an honor when a TEDx speaker seeks out my coaching to make sure she hits the mark. After all, some of the most-watched TED talks are, in fact, TEDx talks.

It's an even bigger honor for me to coach a coach, especially for a creative talk about our business. You'll find much to learn here, from her observations about preparation to the talk itself, which will teach you about using your voice. Goyder "walks the talk" with a smooth, well-paced, and confident delivery you'd be wise to emulate. Here's what she had to say about the experience.)

“So, you mean you’re doing a TEDx talk about talking ?” said my client with a wry grin, “No pressure then..?”.

Crafting a TED worthy talk seemed a daunting mountain to climb, as I embarked into its foothills.  How do you distil the content into 18 minutes? How do you make it work for a live audience and for Youtube? How do you take an idea and cook it right down to the essence, so that after all of that work it sounds conversational?

Three months work later, and a TEDx talk completed, I find that climbing the TED mountain has given me a new perspective.

In a world where we crave ever shorter, faster more distilled ideas a TED style definitely talks in pitches, presentations and conference speeches.

These are the lessons I learned for going from page to stage when it comes to the big talk, presentation or pitch:

Factor in Dream Time: If you’re asked to speak on any platform I’d advise creating a loose structure as soon as the invitation goes into the diary – a frame into which you can hang the ideas. Once you have that frame your unconscious will get to work and the idea will grow, even while you’re doing other things. Diarising space for this dream time is key to honing a talk that feels like you.

Find an Editor: It’s essential with a TED talk, key presentation or conference speech, or big pitch to have an editor to bounce ideas off. In my case this was the very eloquent and wise Denise Graveline. Working with her on Skype week each week allowed me to really get to the heart of the message and then shape it. I felt like I had a wise mentor and confidante on my lonely TEDx path. Expertise can make us myopic – an outside eye can help you step back from your knowledge to create content with impact. It can feel less than comfortable to share your stories, nuggets and key ideas in the raw and you need to find someone who will build confidence and give tough love when required.

Find the Fun: Once the core ideas are there, go further - bring them to visual life. Find the spark, the fun, the aspect that elevates it for you to an aesthetic plane you can enjoy, enthuse about, be elevated by. George McCallum in my case provided an amazing chest of drawers that looked like a human chest, not to mention the props within it. Finding someone who gets your vision is key. It will inspire me, made it visual and made it fun.

Talk Your Talk: Now, with the structure clear and the visuals on track, you have to get into training. Your talk will only be any good if you have said it enough that it can drop out of working memory and into the unconscious, so the lines will arrive for you one by one as you speak them. By speaking your talk aloud, and recording it, you start to learn what works and what doesn't. As the veteran US speech coach Peggy Noonan puts it, where you falter. alter. Make it smooth and fluent. You can then riff conversationally on the day, with the confidence that knowing your structure deeply gives you. This made all the difference on the day, right at the start of my talk when the mic played up, and air con gave me an unexpected wind tunnel effect  – because even as panic hit, I could keep going.

Let it Go: In the words of the legendary Hollywood film director Mike Nichols, then it’s about letting go. "Preparation is everything…now when I walk onto a movie set I don’t have a care in the world: I’ve made sure of everything. For me it’s just pleasure.”

If you’ve done the work climbing the mountain, when you get to the top relax, enjoy the view. Make the day of the talk easy, clear. Do what you need to do to feel at your most relaxed so you can walk out on stage and make relaxed easy conversation with the audience.

And for those who are curious – here’s the talk….

(George McCallum photo of Goyder speaking at TEDxBrixton with the chest of drawers he made.)

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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
If you found this post useful, please subscribe or make a one-time donation to help support the thousands of hours that go into researching and curating this content for you. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 famous speeches by women candidates for U.S. president or vice president

The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women doesn't come close to including every woman who's been a candidate for president or vice-president of the United States. But we do have a representative sample of the women who wanted to represent us through the ages, from the first to the most recent. These women, all candidates for either the top job or the one right behind it in the succession, defy easy description and certainly didn't make easy choices, something their speeches reflect:
  1. Victoria Woodhull's "Principles of Social Freedom," an 1871 speech, is out there on many fronts. She was not only the first woman to run for U.S. president in the year following this speech, but advocated for free love--the ability for women as well as men to choose and discard their sexual partners. And this speech, in the stem-winding traditions of its day, is long...but worth the read.
  2. Shirley Chisholm's 1969 introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment preceded her run for U.S. president in 1972, not the first woman but the first black woman to aim for the job in a major party. She didn't get the convention nod, but in the mold of this speech, used her candidacy to mince no words about the conditions of women and people of color. Her blunt language is a marvel to behold in today's careful world.
  3. Geraldine Ferraro's 1984 Democratic National Convention speech reads like a traditional politician's acceptance speech, but marked a major milestone: With it, she became the first woman to be a major party's candidate for the vice presidential post.
  4. Hillary Clinton's 2008 concession speech is one of four speeches representing her in the Index. In this speech, however, she brought her presidential candidacy to an end--and brought an emotional audience around to support for the eventual president and party candidate Barack Obama.
  5. Sarah Palin's 2008 Republican National Convention speech was already half-written by speechwriters who didn't know the identity of the vice presidential candidate, so close to the convention was her name announced. In a year famous for Clinton's run for the presidency, this woman made it onto a major-party ticket--and made her first major speech a high-impact moment for the campaign.
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

.@andreaskluth on the best thing an introvert can do 15 minutes before a talk

I'm always shooing introverted speakers out of the room--the green room, the reception, the lunch gathering, the crowded hallway--about 15 minutes (and sometimes more) before their talks begin. That's because if you're at all introverted, you need to be by yourself before you start a speech, talk, or presentation. It's a way to build the energy you'll certainly need to share yourself on stage, since introverts gain energy when alone, but see it drain in crowds of people.

At TEDMED, I shooed introverts up to the terrace level of the Kennedy Center, where they could walk around the rooftop terrace and take in the view mostly by themselves. At networking receptions or conferences, a walk around the block or in a nearby park is what I recommend. If all else fails or time is short, the restroom or the nearest stairwell can offer a space in which to be alone. If you're around me in a speaking situation, and you admit to being introverted, I know you won't be offended when I tell you to get lost. But I rarely hear back about the impact of those quiet moments of prep.

Last week, Andreas Kluth, Berlin bureau chief for the Economist, wrote about hearing this from me right before his talk at the European Speechwriter Network conference in Amsterdam. I'd found a lone empty place to perch my lunch in a corner of the crowd and we wound up having a nice talk about public speaking, since he was due to go on right after lunch. We were talking about political speakers and introverts in general, and he told me he was an introvert. So I'm afraid I did a little freelance coaching.

Turns out my usual advice was both unusual in his experience, and welcome on that day. In his post Advice to introverted public speakers (and their hosts), he wisely warns conference organizers to avoid dragging their introverted speakers around to meet everyone right before or after their talks. At this speechwriters' conference, however, there were plenty who understand introversion. He wrote of our encounter:
I was standing at lunch with one of them, when she noticed all by herself that my speaking time was coming up. 
“Honestly,” she said, “if I were you I would now walk away from me and go outside, to the toilet or wherever, and get focussed.” Those may not have been her exact words. But the sentiment was modest, pertinent and beautiful. So I went to the men’s room, did a few power poses in a stall, and read through my index cards (but then put them away).
I'm always glad to be outed on advice like this, particularly when it strikes the speaker as "modest, pertinent and beautiful."

If you're the conference organizer or panel moderator, a nice way to introduce this option is to say to every speaker, "And if you're at all introverted, you may want some time by yourself before and after your talk," then point them to that roof terrace, empty nearby meeting room, stairwell, or park. The last thing most introverts want to do is initiate a discussion of their introversion, see, or be called out for it in front of others. But if you take responsibility for introducing the topic, they'll love you for it. (Please don't try guessing who's introverted and who's not. You'll be wrong, mostly.)

You may think you have that space available, but that speaker-ready room so many conferences have, crowded with folks rehearsing or fixing slides, would be better organized as a few quiet spaces. It's also helpful to know that stressed-out extroverts sometimes revert to their introverted sides, and so will need the same option but be less aware of that need--another reason to offer quiet space to every speaker. At a recent conference where I coached nearly 20 of the speakers, many of them introverted, my client arranged an empty room set aside just in case any of my speakers needed time alone. Let's just say we made use of it.

Please share Kluth's post with your conference organizers and moderators to spread this tip around. Introverted speakers, see my checklist for the whole speaker, annotated for introverts, and I'll see you in the stairwell....

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Daniel Hoherd)

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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
  • Un-tie your tongue if you're a young woman in the workplace, and learn how to handle 'you're young enough to be my kid!' That was true for me, and I started my first senior management job at the age of 30. This is a good speaking-up muscle to build.
  • My wife is telling me to have drinks with other women, writes an organizer of conferences whose spouse suggests he expand his networks so he can find more women speakers. We agree!
  • Don't try to be a man, and other tips from women navigating the corporate world.
  • A change on the blog: I'm moving our usual Wednesday speaking tips posts to Thursdays, starting this week. And next week, you'll see the debut post in a new series, "Talk about the talk," in which I ask speakers with whom I've worked to write about the experience of giving a big talk.
  • About the quote: Don't let this be you, eloquent women!
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Famous Speech Friday: Marie Curie's 1911 Nobel Prize lecture

The Swedish Academy of Sciences described her as a "helpmeet" to her research partner husband when they won her first Nobel Prize. The French Academy of Sciences turned down her membership application solely because she was a woman. The president of the United States praised her as "the noble woman, the unselfish wife, the devoted mother," another example of speeches referring to women mostly as mothers, wives and daughters.

So it's no wonder, really, that when Marie Curie gave her lecture after winning the Nobel Prize for a second time--the first person ever to do so--she made no reference to her gender. Instead, in this second speech, Julie Des Jardins writes, "she paid tribute to her husband but also made clear that her work was independent from his, spelling out their separate contributions and describing the discoveries she had made after his death." Like many women, she found that society wanted to paint her as the mother, as a whore (for having an affair after her husband's death), or as a genderless entity. Perhaps that last option seemed the safest.

If this seems odd to you, please note that, more than a century later in 2014, women academics are still explaining why they must insist on being referred to as "Doctor" or "Professor," to counteract their male students downgrading them to "Mrs.," even when they are not married.

After sharing her first Nobel with her husband and another researcher, the 1911 prize in chemistry was awarded solely to Curie. Her opening lines on this occasion took pains to place her contributions in date order and to claim her coining of the term "radioactive" to describe the new elements:
Some 15 years ago the radiation of uranium was discovered by Henri Becquerel, and two years later the study of this phenomenon was extended to other substances, first by me, and then by Pierre Curie and myself. This study rapidly led us to the discovery of new elements, the radiation of which, while being analogous with that of uranium, was far more intense. All the elements emitting such radiation I have termed radioactive, and the new property of matter revealed in this emission has thus received the name radioactivity. Thanks to this discovery of new, very powerful radioactive substances, particularly radium, the study of radioactivity progressed with marvellous rapidity: Discoveries followed each other in rapid succession, and it was obvious that a new science was in course of development.
Her Nobel Prizes made her the most famous woman in the world, and it's said Curie disliked the publicity that came with that. But when her moment of glory came, she used the lecture--preserved to this day online--to set the record straight about her contributions and research. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Speak for yourself: Throughout her career, others tried to speak for or about Curie, often trying to reshape her story in ways that made her uncomfortable. This speech let her lay claim to her achievements and to do it in a form--a scientific lecture--with which she was most comfortable, and which would establish the value of her work.
  • Add clarity and poetry: The lecture may be tough going in places for the non-scientist, but as scientific lectures go, it's a marvel of clarity. That, too, underscores the validity of her work. As Einstein, a contemporary and friend of Curie, said of scientists, "If you can't explain it to your grandmother, you don't understand it." She points out that radiation "can provide a means of seeking new elements," then, at the very end, describing this new area of science, she calls it "the chemistry of the imponderable." It's poetic license, but makes clear just how much was not yet known and needed to be explored.
  • Set the example: By ignoring her gender, Curie was setting an example for how to talk about her scientific achievements as scientific achievements, not as curiosities done by a helping female. You can do the same, not just in your remarks about yourself, but your introductions, comments and speeches about others.

(Photo of Marie Curie in her chemistry laboratory at the Radium Institute in France, April 1921, from the Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands.)

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Guest post: Live-tweeting my own talk

(Editor's note: My longtime reader and client Cate Huston shared a novel approach to social media as a speaker: She live-tweeted her own speech. As she points out, tweets can be a way of publishing your remarks and making sure they're heard beyond the room, two important advantages for women speakers. Here's how she did it and her analysis of how it went, from a post that appeared on her own blog and is reprinted here with permission. Thanks, Cate!)

The other week, I live tweeted one of my own talks. It’s captured here (thanks Kelsey!). I’ve been live tweeting a lot lately, and when I attend talks I take notes and/or live tweet so this became a natural extension. I’ve noticed a couple of other speakers (Kronda and Jo Miller) using tweets as part of their talks, so I wanted to try it.

I picked this talk because it was a small audience, and a last minute invitation so I was okay with being slightly less polished than usual, and because of the topic. I was talking about what happened at Grace Hopper (GHC) and live tweeting things that other people’s talks, so live tweeting my own seemed fair.

It was a slightly last minute decision, as I was going through my notes I had a thought “what if I do this” and so I didn’t have time to optimise it! I used Jo’s strategy of saving the tweets that I would send out in my drafts folder, and decided to number them at the start (1), (2), etc., so it would be easy for me to see at a glance which one came next. I accidentally tweeted instead of saved one as part of this process, but I quickly copied the text and deleted it so it was OK! I made sure to put my phone on DND mode so that I wouldn’t be distracted by notifications.

The best thing about live tweeting my own talk was that it allowed the reach of that talk to go beyond the small audience in the room. The collection itself has been pretty popular (and it made me very happy that someone had thought my remarks worth collecting!) as well as the individual tweets having good levels of engagement. It’s also nice that the message of this was curated by me – records of women speaking are often imperfect (my friend and amazing speaker coach Denise has been working on this for a long time) and I have been diligent about documenting my own talks in part because of this. One thing that I have done for a while is collect the tweets that happen during my talk into a Storify, it’s always a surprise what people have pulled out, or haven’t. In this case, the people in the room didn’t tweet at all, so if I hadn’t captured it myself there would have been no record, other than my notes (which I will eventually put up in a blogpost).

The drafts section of Twitter for iOS is not really set up well to do this. It was multiple taps to share each tweet. Buffer and “share now” would have been far better, so if I decide to do this again upgrading to Buffer Premium might be a better way to go, or giving my phone to a trusted friend in the audience.

I think I do need to pause more, so I figured taking this time for silence would be a good thing for my audience but I don’t think this worked as I had hoped – rushing to work through the UI to get to the buried drafts folder, scrolling down to the bottom. Not ideal. I know it made me less good at eye contact. It also meant that I was working from two devices – my notes on my iPad, and my tweets on my iPhone. A talk that I’d spent more time preparing and been more familiar with, I could have used the tweets as my prompts and just shared them as I progressed through the talk. I did this talk without slides, and adding those transitions in as well would have been way too much!

The final question that I have to ask myself in a debrief of this – will I do it again? Not in that format, but maybe. I tend to prep a talk really well and reuse it, and I don’t think I would want to live tweet a talk more than once. This particular one was full of tweetable soundbites and timely, my talk on mobile is full of stories and I don’t think it would work as well. Maybe the talks I prep for next year will work better. I’ll either get a friend in the audience to help, or use something like Buffer with a better interface for storing a backlog of tweets and sharing one by one.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit

Fans of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook see links to good reads, resources and ideas from other sources there, in addition to posts from the blog. But you won't miss a thing, since I'm summarizing that extra content and putting it here on the blog for all readers to see. Here's what I shared in the week just past:
  • Missing advice: This TEDx talk by a leadership expert uses a smart hook--revealing advice no one ever gave you. It's a winning way to intrigue an audience, which always should be among your goals. Since it's targeted to women, you get a good example with good advice.
  • Code red: Conference codes of conduct, designed to protect women speakers and attendees from harrassment, don't work without a lot of additional effort, says this organizer.
  • Global speakers need this article on how to tailor your presentation to fit different cultures.
  • About the quote: Good advice for making sure your public speaking self is your authentic self.
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Famous Speech Friday: Ida Tarbell's 1916 "Industrial idealism"

Imagine that you're a prize-winning journalist, one who has brought corporate titans to their knees with your investigations, and whose books are best-sellers. Your name is a household word in America. Your credibility and popularity are high. The speakers' bureau advertising you on the lecture circuit says "there is no name which speaks more eloquently of careful and painstaking research, keen analysis, open mindedness, fairness and constructiveness, than does the name of Ida M. Tarbell."

And then one of the groups you address on that tour describes you as "the woman who talks like a man."

"Tarbell was invited to speak at numerous colleges, clubs and law schools. Members of the Twentieth Century Club were reportedly enthralled to hear 'the woman who talks like a man'," wrote Doris Kearns Goodwin in The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, noting Tarbell's popularity on the speaker circuit after her exposé of Standard Oil. 

Readers of the blog know well that negating the gender and sexuality of women speakers--labeling them as men, as neuters or as androgynes--has been going on since the first century in Rome, and continues to this day. This was a period in American history when few women spoke on the popular public-speaking circuits of the day. When they did speak, they primarily spoke about temperance, anti-war messages, religion or the home. And I'm told by historian friends that Tarbell very well may have appreciated that backhanded compliment. She didn't like it when, as she sometimes put it, her "petticoats" got in the way of her progress. Whether her audience saw it the same way is up for debate.

It's possible Tarbell was influenced as a speaker from her time as a reporter for The Daily Chautauquan, supplement for home study courses based on the Chautauqua Institution, a summer festival of public speakers in New York state that continues today--in a sense, the original TED conference, except with thousands of speakers. It was her first professional writing job, and Tarbell said of it,“I was glad to be useful, for I had grown up with what was called the Chautauqua movement.” She spoke at Chautauqua twice in the summer of 1917, bringing her career full circle as a speaker.

Around 1916, she was on the speaker circuit, represented by the Affiliated Lyceum Bureaus of America, speaking on issues surrounding World War I, with a focus on the home front and her specialty, scrutiny of industrial practices. (Here's a letter to her about her speaker expenses from one of the lyceum bureaus booking her in the midwest.) The back page of this brochure calls the speech "Industrial Idealism," and says Tarbell summed up the situation in America in that day as "A peaceful nation unprepared for peace!"

It's based on The Golden Rule in Business (jump to page 34 at the link), a story from the American Magazine, which she founded and edited. The central idea is that applying the "golden rule" of "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" was being applied as simply "good business" by the heads of "certain industries." It's a look at the advent of worker safety as a new assumption in doing business.

The brochure gives us the only text I could find from this speech:
We must organize men and women for labor as if for war. Watch the perfection of the training and the movement of the masses that at this moment are meeting in unspeakable, infernal slaughter in Europe. See how the humblest is fitted to his task. With what ease great bodies wheel, turn, advance, retreat. Consider how, after standing men in line that they may be knocked to pieces, they promptly and scientifically collect such as have escaped, both friend and foe, and (oh, amazing and heart-breaking human logic!) under the safe sign of the cross, tenderly nurse them back to health.
If this can be done for War, should we do less for Peace? 
What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Use active verbs to make your speech powerful: "...great bodies wheel, turn, advance, retreat" is a sentence packed with active verbs. Here, Tarbell's experience as a writer came in handy, but you can get the same effect by editing your speech drafts to eliminate "to be" and other passive verb constructions. Many speakers fall into passive constructions as a way of hedging their opinions, and the result is a speech without opinions, but also lacking in power and impact.
  • Give your audience invisible visuals and a piece of the action: Tarbell's descriptions bring alive the fields of war in Europe, creating the invisible visuals or pictures in the mind's eye that stay with an audience long after the talk is over. But she doesn't just describe the aspects of war that work in peacetime--she puts the audience into the action, urging listeners to "watch...see...consider" and play an active if imaginary role in the story she's telling. It's a good persuasive technique as well.
  • Use questions to press your argument: A time-honored tool of rhetoric is the rhetorical question. By asking "If this can be done for War, should we do less for Peace?" Tarbell is challenging her audience with her own contention and opinion, and using the question to press it forward. She does so in part because her premise--that workers deserve safety, and that it helps business--was one met with skepticism by workers and industrialists alike. 
I wish I had a full text or audio for this speech, but you can read a draft commencement speech from this era found among her papers, intended for the class of 1913 at Allegheny College. I'm delighted that Allegheny College, the Chautauqua Daily and the University of Iowa Libraries could make available the documents about her speaking tour, giving us a fuller picture of the early 20th century lecture circuit and Tarbell's speaking.

(Images copyrighted by The University of Iowa. Used by permission.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ask not what your TED video can do for you. Ask what you can do...

Many speakers salivate at the thought of having a video of themselves delivering a TED talk, the thing that lives online long after your actual talk is done. I've written before about the many things you can do with that video, whether you're speaking at TED, TED Global, TEDMED, or one of the many thousands of TEDx conferences around the globe.

But first, do us all a favor, and ask not what your TED video can do for you. Ask what you can do for your TED video.

Planning how your talk will work on video is an often-missed step in the prep for a TED talk.  I've coached nearly 100 speakers for TED talks, primarily as the coach for TEDMED as well as for TEDx conferences around the world, and I always incorporate coaching about the eventual video along with coaching for the speaker's impact with the live audience.

But TED isn't the only conference recording and sharing video of speakers, as more organizations look for high-quality content to share online. Understanding how your talk will play in the hall and beyond it has become a new standard for public speakers. Here's what I advise speakers to do to yield a better video for TED talks--or any talks:
  1. Don't blend into the background: Ask your organizers about the color of the background against which you'll be speaking, then go for contrast. Many, if not most, TED conferences have a dark background, so that smart black suit you want to wear won't help you stand out. Put some saturated color, like a French blue or other jewel tone close to your face and torso, since pastels will wash out under the bright lights; that pale blue shirt will read almost white on video. Be careful with red: On video, a red jacket tends to look as if it's bleeding, or disintegrating, at the edges. If you will wear jewelry, make it larger, rather than small, jewelry--a statement necklace, rather than a small chain necklace, for example. 
  2. Make yourself easy to light: An all-black outfit also means that any detail on your clothes--beautiful stitching or pleating, for example--won't show up well on camera. And avoid a pure white, which will always draw the camera's eye more than any other color, making it especially difficult to light. If your outfit is all white, please make sure you report to the lighting director in advance, so she can plan for you. 
  3. Avoid inadvertent noise from accessories: If you're wearing earrings, bring alternatives with you and consult with the audio technician about whether your earrings will make noise close to the microphone. You also can remove the earring closest to the mic during your talk. In the same vein, avoid touching your necklace or wearing noisy bracelets, and if your hair is long and hanging near the mic, ask the technician to adjust it. While you're at it, think through any noise your props make, and what that will do in the video. Ask for a consult if you're not sure.
  4. Slow down: That microphone is your friend, but there's one thing it can't do: Help us understand you when you go too fast. Pause more than you think you should, and put two silent beats in between your sentences or the items in a list. We'll hear you much better if you pace yourself. And pausing after a mistake, then continuing, lets the video editor work magic later on.
  5. Don't vocalize or gesture for the back of the house: One of the biggest misunderstandings in TED talk delivery happens when speakers think they need to be more theatrical, projecting loudly for the people sitting in the back of the theatre, or gesturing more broadly or frequently to get their points across. In fact, there's no need for loudness or large gestures. You can be as quiet as you wish, and let the audio and video technicians do their job and make you heard and seen, in the hall and on the video. 
  6. Allow for close-ups: There's one more big disadvantage to large gestures and lots of moving around: If that's all you do, the camera will have to pull back to encompass your motion, and you won't get a close-up. You don't need to move all over the classic TED "red dot" carpet, a 12-foot circle. Just take a step or two and stop, or shift your weight, or stand in place.
  7. Alert the crew to special props, big moves or other unusual moments: If you're going to swing something at the end of a rope, toss things into the audience, move a big piece of equipment or a large prop on stage, do start working with the organizers and crew well in advance, so they know what you are planning and when it will occur. Provide them with a script marked with your big moves, prop use and other cues, so they can plan appropriately.
  8. Give the camera a chance to capture your first words: Rather than start talking as you walk toward center stage, emerge silently, center yourself on the spot where you want to begin, shut your mouth, breathe through your nose, and smile at the audience for a few moments. Then begin speaking. You'll calm yourself, connect with the audience, and most important, give the camera operator a moment in which to focus on you and establish a shot that captures your first words. Doing anything else is the video equivalent of swallowing your words. You only get one chance for the video to capture your first words, so don't waste it.
  9. Then jump right into the start of your talk: Many speakers routinely begin their talks with what speaker coaches call "throat-clearing," those thank-yous and nice-to-be-heres that don't add content but help the speaker get comfortable. The TED tradition is to jump right into your talk instead. You don't need to introduce yourself or thank anyone, and in fact, TED will edit such comments out of your video, anyway. So why bother?
  10. Don't worry about angles: You may want to turn to different parts of the audience during your talk, but at TED or TEDMED, most of the time, there will be multiple cameras capturing multiple angles for most talks, which means you need not worry about how you face the audience. TEDx conferences will vary in this aspect of video recording, often with just one camera. Ask the organizers if you are not sure. Whether there's one camera or many, you don't need to look directly at the camera--just talk to the audience and let the camera capture that connection.
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