Cathey Armillas is an organ-
izer for TEDxPortland (one
of the largest and longest-
standing TEDx events in the
world). She has given a
TEDx Talk herself and is an author, market-
ing strategist and member of NSA. She’s also
a TEDx coach, helping celebrities, veterans,
industry experts, and people with good ideas
deliver the best presentations of their lives.
Visit www.HowtoRockaTEDTalk.com or
www.CatheyArmillas.com. And check out
her TEDx Talk at http://bit.ly/catheytedxtalk.
Memorable models. Create
memorable names for systems or
processes that you’ve come up with to
help people understand your idea, e.g.
“Give love to get love,” which is the
rule of reciprocal affinity in marketing.
The cool factor. Bring in an
element of “wow” to your talk—
something that makes it memorable
and leaves the audience saying, “That
was so cool.” This is the unexpected
Powerful visuals. Videos, graph-
ics, photos and other visuals that
help get your idea across and also help
your audience remember it. Don’t use
too many, and the ones you do use
should illustrate your point simply and
Emotional connection. Create
an emotional connection with the
audience by including humor, drama
and personal stories. Evoke an emotion
that will create a relatable experience
Low point. Bring the audience
down to the low point in your
story. This humanizes you and makes
you relatable. It also sets up the power
of your idea.
Twist moment. Bring them to
the moment when everything
changed for you; when you discovered
your idea or realized that a change
needed to be made.
Authenticity and openness. Be
authentic and open during your
talk. Your audience will better relate to
you. And if you can take it further and
poke fun at your own expense, that’s
Once you’ve composed your talk,
give it a trial run even if it’s in your living room. Record it and transcribe it
word for word, exactly as you said it.
It’ll be a painful but revealing exercise.
When I was transcribing my talk, I had
the urge to transcribe the words I
meant to say but didn’t. And then reading what I actually said helped me to
choose every word carefully.
This doesn’t mean you should memorize your entire speech, however. In
fact, if that’s all you do, it will come
across as flat and inauthentic. You need
to know the subject inside and out so
you’ll be able to deliver it in more of a
conversational manner. That will keep
it fresh. And keep people’s eyes on you.
Finally, imagine where you’re going
to give your talk. Your staging area is
limited. More than likely you’ll be on
the TED dot, or something similar, so
you’ll have to adjust your gestures and
movements to fit those limitations.
say—he eased up and delivered a talk
that got him a double standing ovation.
In fact, his name was the No. 3 trending topic on Twitter for that day.
But remember, it’s also about managing the little details. You should, for
instance, plan what you’re going to
wear. The subject and nature of your
talk should be supported by the appropriate outfit. The TEDx organizers will
have a dry run a day or two before the
event. That is when you need to check
out the lights, the stage area and the
monitors that will be in front of you.
You’ll need to see what you’re going to
be able to see, and know where you’re
going to look, so it doesn’t surprise you
when you get up on the stage.
Once your talk is ready and you’re
prepared to walk out there and stand on
the dot, there’s one more thing you have
to get right: your mindset. You have to
be entirely focused on the audience and
the idea. You’re the bridge between
them. It all depends on you. But relax.
(Easier said than done, I know.)
I imagine I’m talking to just one
friend about something I believe in passionately. If you deliver your idea with
passion and clarity, it may just change
the world. So tell yourself that as
you’re introduced and you walk out
onto that stage.
Now you’re ready to be a Tedder
and rock your TED Talk!
Your Moment Arrives
I tell speakers to stop physically
rehearsing their speech a few days
before their talk and start mentally
preparing. I once coached a 91-year-old
WWII veteran, Frank Moore. He had a
really hard time during the preparation
of the talk and actually quit on me
twice, the second time just a few days
before the event. Once he got into the
mindset that his idea needed to be
shared with the world—that it was less
about him and more about the people
who needed to hear what he had to