Scott Dinsmore


Practice Like Your Career Depends On It (How to Give a TEDx That Goes Viral)

Key Takeaways

On preparing for a presentation:

I have a process for how I put a talk together. I don‟t ever write it out word for word. I‟ll usually have ideas and stories and then just rehearse it a ton of times to make sure I have the flow of it because I‟ve noticed if I try to write something and let‟s say I forget a line it can totally throw me off. I won‟t have time to ad lib if something happens in the audience or something like that.

On connecting with the audience:

You can't have a good talk without telling personal stories. That‟s what it is and how you connect in a meaningful way, but to tell a story in a way that other people can relate to is the key.

It's like the hero's journey that Nancy Duarte talks about. It's not like you on stage, you're not the hero. You're bringing the audience through that journey. It was very counterintuitive to me in that way before and I remember when I got on the stage and started to first talk about the statistics of people who hate their job and these different kinds of things, my own path, I could hear it.

I could feel people, the different facial expressions, the different gasps and stuff, they were relating to this, sadly, because a lot of people relate to that tough situation. That was key and a huge part of that comes from Simon Sinek's framework, starting with why. People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

I guess story and making sure it connects or that it's a story that other people can relate to, that people share. Anyone who has a business—you only have a business if you really have customers who can relate to the same kind of issues you‟re trying to solve. It's just a new exercise in that.

Then you have to deeply, deeply care about it. That goes without saying, but I still have to say it. You have to just be unbelievable, visibly passionate about it. I use the word contagious because I think the goal I have when I go on stage, I want people to feel some of what I feel. I want them to just afterwards be like, “Oh my God, I have this energy because he had this energy.”

As we know, when we hang around people who are really excited and passionate and working on something they really care about and they talk about it, we feel it. It feels good.

On being a little crazy:

I guess the last part of it, which comes really naturally for me, is being a little bit crazy, having some actually movement.

I'm not saying you be some totally wild man, but if you go in between wild man and I'm going to sit in a chair behind a podium, move towards the other side.

I'm not saying I go out and try to offend people, but we all have something we believe in and so if we'e going to be on a stage we should communicate what we believe in and why we believe it.

On dealing with nerves:

Well, right before I go I do some movements and breathing. If you saw me in the park outside of talk, the 10 minutes before, I had my playlist on, my Inspire Me playlist and I was jumping up and down. I was moving around. I was getting really, “All right,” like I'm going to start a race or something.

Amy Cuddy talks about power poses. So yeah, I have a routine I go through before for sure. I'll visualize it a lot. I'll go on runs and workouts and think through what it is going to be like on stage and try to see the room before and stuff like that. It still doesn't remove them all. It's put you in a better spot to have a chance at doing okay.

What does it mean to speak like a pro?

To leave the stage with people seeing the world a little bit differently because they had heard what you had to say and the way you told your story. By seeing it differently, hopefully seeing it and open their eyes to what‟s possible. In my case, it‟s opened your eyes to possibility and think of it that way as opposed to just, “Okay, a couple ideas, whatever.”

Top Tips and Resources:

Find a few go-to talks that really light you up and make your hand stand up and then try and deconstruct them a little bit and watch them and learn about them and see what went into that, but more than anything, in order to have a talk that really connects you have to believe in something that you deeply care about making a difference and helping people and relating that to others.

This is just the ultimate, focused stage to do that. It's an actual stage with real people. Don't be afraid to move around. Have some fun. How cool is it to have the opportunity to stand on a stage with people. They're going to give you their time. You better do something with it.

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