Why TED Talks are Compelling

A lot of people would agree that TED talks are compelling but why it is so is less obvious. The talks share a common narrative that can be easily used to structure presentations to good effect. Here are the five elements:

Pique their interest – Through opening with stories, you can get attention and appeal to emotional instincts because people are naturally drawn to stories. The stories should have vivid detail and invoke clear imagery, and most importantly leave the listener in suspense as to “What’s next”. At this early stage of the talk, the specific stories are external to the listener.

Satisfy their curiosity – Next pick out the pattern or generalise the lesson of the specific story or stories. The key is to create an “aha” moment for the listener. Saying “here’s what we learned” will begin to draw the audience to becoming in-tuned with the story teller.

Appeal to logic – This is where you can back your story with data, graphs or even more facts. After appealing to the audience’s emotional side, offering numerical evidence is a powerful way to further convince the logic-minded in the group.

Setting the vision – Invite the audience to imagine their world in a different way, where they apply the foregoing external, general rule to their circumstances. This step that asks the audience to “Imagine if you …” directs the focus on the listener’s internal world and paints the potential to change for the better.

Call to action – Tell the audience a concrete action they can take to achieve the objective. It is important to give the audience a sense that they are control over the action so that they believe that they can actually do it. By this closing stage of the presentation, the talk has turned attention to an internal specific action that the listener can carry out.


Handling the four political barriers to strategy execution

Many CEOs or managers often find themselves up against organisational politics that impede strategy execution. Historical divisions and entrenched power structures can create barriers to desired change. Navigating these political domains in organisations require awareness of two important dimensions. First is the spectrum at which the political activity takes place between the individual or organisational level. The second dimension is the source of informal or formal power. Using these two dimensions, the four typical types of organisational politics can be described as “the weeds”, “the rocks”, “the high ground”, and “the woods”. Here’s how to approach these situations:

The weeds – The weeds, where individual influence and informal networks rule, can naturally form without any deliberate effort. To deal with the weeds, seek to understand the informal networks at play and identify the key influence brokers, so you can isolate them and increase your own influence.

The rocks – Navigating the terrain here, where individuals have formal sources of authority reign, consists of redirecting the energy of a dysfunctional leader, either through reasoned argument or by appealing to their interests.

The high ground – If you find yourself on the high ground, which combines formal authority embedded within organisational systems such as committees, you can suggest that a separate group or task force (e.g. Innovation Lab) needs to be set up to examine an issue or bridge silos. It can create an unconstrained ‘working space’ outside of the norms and routines of the organisation.

The woods – The woods are characterised by organisations with implicit norms, hidden assumptions and unspoken routines. The key here is to make the implicit explicit and bring those implicit routines and behaviours to the surface. Ask external stakeholders and specialist experts about their observations of the company or get information from benchmark surveys. Once the implicit assumptions are out in the open, ask your team to reflect on how those assumptions are helping or hindering the strategy.



You have a strategy, now what?

Leaders may sometimes equate strategy execution to strategy communication, but the latter alone is not enough to drive the entire execution. While it is hard to come up with a good strategy, it’s typically harder to get people to execute on that strategy. People in the organization are misaligned in terms of objectives, and may be entrenched in their set way of doing things. Identifying the people who are essential to driving the strategy is critical to successful execution. The question then becomes: How can we align the efforts of key staff and enable them to move the organization in tune with the strategy?

Source: Havard Business Review