Is Time NOT On Your Side? Presentation Lessons from Tony Robbin’s TED Talk

Presentation Lessons from Tony Robbin's TED TalkNow I love me some Tony Robbins.

He is an amazing speaker. He has great content and his ability to create meaningful experiences for his audience is second to none.

I was excited to watch his TED Talk. A little Tony Robbins brilliance in just eighteen minutes sounds perfect and nearly 12 million people agree with me.

But what I witnessed instead was a seasoned speaker making rookie presentation mistakes. Go ahead and watch his TED talk and see if you can spot his big presentation mistake.

Did you notice it?

Time was not on Tony Robbins side…no it isn’t

Straight away I knew I was he was in trouble when he started his talk with:

I have to tell you I’m both challenged and excited. My excitement is: I get a chance to give something back. My challenge is: the shortest seminar I usually do is 50 hours.(Laughter) I’m not exaggerating.

No, he’s not exaggerating but why tell your audience this? As a pro, your job is always to…

Adapt your message to the culture of the presentation

Is it a surprise to anyone that TED talks are only 18-minutes?

No, no it’s not.

For a professional like Robbins who speaks for a living, he should know better than to open a talk with a complaint about time. Instead he should have met the time constraints with solid preparation.

Mark Twain said it best:

“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”

When you’re asked to present, your job as the speaker is to adapt your material to the culture of the presentation. Honor the organizers, the audience and the tradition of the organization.

It’s more time-consuming and difficult to prepare and plan a 18-minute talk versus a 50-hour seminar.

18-minutes forces you to…

Focus on one core idea

There’s a tidal wave of information in that TED talk.

It was overwhelming to keep up with Robbins.

He begins he speech explaining the six needs that all humans possess.

He knows he’s running out of time and at 16:31 he says:

And there are seven different beliefs. I can’t go through them because I’m done. 

Hint: he’s not done…he’s not even close to done.

That’s a total of 13 ideas.

It’s like he’s vomiting information on us (great info mind you but far too much) at a speech that would make Usain Bolt jealous.

The trick with a TED talk is to start with ONE big idea and develop it through the whole presentation.

Then take one of those ideas and develop a story around it. Give the audience an action to take and implement into their lives.

If you can’t do that, you’ll go over time and…

It’s never ok to go over time (even if you’re Tony Robbins)

I thought a hook was going appear from off-stage and drag him off.

Robbins knew he was going over time. In fact, he keeps repeating his concern about time.

“I’m about out of time. I’m over time. I have ten seconds left.”

He’s giving us the countdown of how he’s over time.

With 10 seconds left – he starts a riveting story about giving one of his sold-out seminars in Hawaii when 9/11. A woman in the audience describes the loss of her husband.

She finishes, and a man stands up and he says, “I’m from Pakistan; I’m a Muslim. I’d love to hold your hand and say I’m sorry, but, frankly, this is retribution.” I can’t tell you the rest because I’m out of time. (Laughter) 10 seconds.(Applause)

This was a story I wanted to hear. It could have been the ENTIRE crux of his TED Talk instead of an after thought at the end. And that means he lost out on an opportunity to make and even larger emotional impact because he was trying to cram so much information into a presentation.

If you dream of giving a TED Talk, the one thing to remember is that you want one clear idea that you develop your whole presentation around. Don’t make the Tony Robbins mistake of trying to put in thirteen different viewpoints into your presentation.

You’ll lose out on an opportunity to make an even bigger impact.

Keep it simple, develop a story that gives us the emotional connection. And your TED Talk will definitely rock.

Want more presentation secrets? Join me on July 15th at 10:00 am PDT for Speak Up for Your Business webinar. We’ll celebrate the release of my book with presentation tips to grow your business + prizes (books, coaching sessions, oh my). 

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