“When preparing to give your TED-talk, practice at least a 100 times”, TED’s Global Curator Chris Anderson wrote in his book, How to speak at TEDx. In order to inspire our TEDxSittardGeleen speakers to deliver the ‘talk of their life’, we brought in top speaker Karl Raats (courtesy of our partner Assemblee Speakers Bureau). With the main event only two weeks out, his mix of practical advice and lots of positive energy was well received by our group of speakers that collectively concluded: we can’t wait until January 27th.

Or as Karl put it, “We’re going to lift our mindset from paranoia – that nagging feeling that the audience is out to get you – to pronoia – the conviction that the audience is conspiring to help you succeed.”


Giving a presentation soon? Karl Raats shares 5 surprising tips:

TIP 1: Believe in your audience.

As daunting facing a TEDx audience may seem, know this: they only wish you the very best, they are rooting for you, they are already on your side. Trust that each and every single person in the audience is your friend. Friends that wholeheartedly look forward to seeing you take the stage and hearing your story, because deep down they have already decided to embrace the both of you. Having difficulty believing in yourself? That’s ok. Believe in your audience and they will reciprocate.

TIP 2: Doodle before you speak.

Those final few (agonizing) minutes before going on stage, your brain tends to go in overdrive. When processing so many thoughts and emotions your cortisol levels might just get the better you, possibly causing mental blackout…
Listen to your body before going on stage. If meditation works for you, great, meditate. But if you feel like moving, by all means, move. Movement takes the edge of your stress hormones. But what if you’re already sitting in the front row, waiting to go on stage, deprived of giving in to a sudden urge to play air guitar? Doodle! Writing and doodling is the only socially acceptable way to reap the calming benefits of movement, in public.

TIP 3: Don’t fight the wave. Ride it.

Have you ever tried holding back a wave with your hands hoping to not get wet? Good luck with that. Same thing goes for the wave of energy, produced by a room full of of eager people, hurdling towards you. Some of us are very sensitive to that massive amount of energy and feel overwhelmed by it. Don’t push back though. Allow it to pass through you. Don’t fight it, ride it. There’s nothing to fear. How do I know that? Re read tip 1.

TIP 4: Show, don’t tell.

Well, do tell, please. But spend as much time experimenting with physically telling your story as you are with writing and memorizing your talk. Let your hands, arms, eyes be the physical representation of (parts of) your story. If you say something like: “I pulled the splinter out with a pair of tweezers”, simultaneously physically tell the same story. Show it AND look at it, as if it’s actually happening. Your audience won’t just hear you say it, they’ll feel it.

Tip 5: Your fingers are your speed limit.

Are nerves like a nitro injection speeding up your speaking engine? Slow down, is a very well intended piece of advice, but it’s a useless one because nerves distort your perception of speed. There is a very simple solution to that. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch with every syllable you speak. So(pinch) when(pinch) you(pinch) talk(pinch) on(pinch) a(pinch) TED(pinch) x(pinch) po(pinch) di(pinch) um(pinch), let(pinch) your(pinch) pin(pinch) ching(pinch) fin(pinch) gers(pinch) set(pinch) the(pinch) pace(pinch). Do this until you feel you can confidently lift your foot, or fingers, of the break.
But above all, command that little voice in your head to speak pronoia or be silent. Your gift to your audience will be the talk of their lives and yours.


Karl Raats

Business Creativity Speaker • Nominated “Speaker of the Year 2016″​ (The Netherlands) • TEDx Coach