Life after TED: How to show up in the Post-TED world

by Joe Ross —

You know that mental image you have of what you think you should be like on stage? Yes, that one based upon a mash-up of some of your favorite TED speakers whom you are certain you’ll never be as good as. Well, forget it!

Welcome to the Post-TED style of authenticity centered presentation.

In my last article, Wash that TED right out of your head: New Post-TED presentation, we explored some of the foundational reasons which many are experiencing, and what I call, “TED-like style Fatigue”. Please see that first, as it was the second in a series of three articles exploring this subject. However, if you already think you know what I mean by TED-like style fatigue, then by all means read on.

So, we have established that we are growing rather weary of the formulaic and “highly oratorial,” perfectly polished, and perfectly predictable TED-like style that we see time and time again. Fine. What comes after then?

What follows as alluded to above are presentation and communication efforts that are more fully grounded in the authenticity of the speaker and front compassion for the audience over competition for likes and shares; while empathetically engaging with the audience by providing content in a more meaningful and fulfilling manner. More meaningful and fulfilling because with empathy as a brick in the backbone construction of your communication, you have put yourself in their shoes and taken off your boots of competition worn to crush the opponent and thereby, crush your communication as well.

There is no winning in a Post TED-like style world of presentations, because when you employ the structural architecture principles of Authenticity, Compassion, and Empathy as the new triumvirate for the 21st century, there will be no losers either.

In the old world of TED-like style presentations, the targeted focus message for the presentation was explaining and showing the “why” behind the subject matter. While explanation of the “why” is essential in all presentations, too many presenters put a singular focus not on the “why”, but on the “why is my presentation better than others,” and that does not work anymore in a world moving increasingly in a non-rivalrous direction. Thus exclusively “why” focused presentations can only be effective in a time where the cultural sense of cohesion is based upon exclusion and rarity. A society that is knitted together by the strategy of keeping difference out. Thus, the “why” or foundational motivation, your company, product, project, or idea is better than anyone else’s only works well in a world used to being separated into classes of winners and losers.

Thankfully, many have begun to see the vapidity of this world view; and are increasingly rejecting presentations and communication efforts forged from the rusted constructive remains of this broken technology.

It is no wonder that many are seeking a new way to present which embodies and exemplifies the new times we are living into.

What I am suggestion for the Post TED-like times is that we flip the focus and open a perspective which was barely available for us before. The perspectival pivot is from “why” to “how.” In employing Authenticity, Compassion, and Empathy as the ontological ground for communication, the process will effectively be opened towards emergence and connection. A presentation created and delivered using the “how” triumvirate will clear a path towards discovering new and perhaps unexpected outcomes. While not necessarily rigidly predictable, this approach will nonetheless lead towards something new and collectively experienced to emerge. What the speaker and audience authentically experience and produce together is something that will likely be remembered and acted upon; the ultimate end goals for any successful presentation.

So how do we proceed?

We proceed by employing our new triumvirate for the 21st century Post TED-like style presentations:

  1. Authenticity. The bad news is that you will never become the mash-up of your favorite presenters; the good news, however, is that you can only be you. And by being fully and uniquely you, you are offering your audience something that no other speaker can. A gift which audience after audience comes in the hope of finding but so rarely do, as speaker after speaker disappoint us by using formulaic devices and never fully show up. No matter how skillfully acted and played on “stage,” be it an actual stage in a theater, across the space of a board room, or face to face with another person; without communicating from your authentic core, your audience will be sorely disappointed and will be left unsatisfied by the effort. Thus, audiences are very unlikely to either remember it, or act upon your message. Authenticity takes courage and trust, and with some support can very readily be developed.

  2. Compassion. Compassion means that you earnestly seek to lessen the suffering of another. And this is way overdue as far too many audiences have been pummeled into somnambulistic submission by far too many win-seeking speakers using their “whys” as ramming rods for attention dominance. Of course, this never works out well for too long. Our new Post TED-like style calls for careful compassionate consideration of each and every one of our audiences, no matter how large or small the number. From individuals to stadiums, compassion must come first. Give your ego the day off and take the time to work out their needs first, not yours. Speak authentically to that and your will always be very warmly welcomed and likewise your message will be warmly received and retained.

  3. Empathy. Whereas compassion refers to your desire to relieve suffering; empathy is the ability to feel for the other. As we say, to put yourself in the other’s shoes and both see and feel their worldview. Once you compassionately know their needs, then you feel through them and construct your communication in a respectful manner which corresponds to their intellectual and emotional requirements which they carry into this communicational context. For you as a speaker, it is more advantageous to be fully felt than to be loudly and coldly heard. Shouting your “why” regardless of the internal state of your audience, will only lead to mutual disappointment in the end.

Thus, we now have it.

The “how” for the Post TED-like style for 21st century presenting and communicating. By always being your authentic self, compassionately looking to help your audience, and empathetically delivering your message, you are clearing the way for highly meaningful and emergent communication to occur!

Just in time for when we need it most.