Feeling stressed? Enjoy it

Talking about TED
A great opening: audience activation and my stress level  Can you make it bold?

Analysis of “How to make stress your friend” by Kelly McGonigal

What makes this talk work?

  • High-interest topic
  • Engaging, interactive opening, straight to the pain point
  • Surprising results from a scientific study
  • Valuable how-to information
  • Compelling personal story

A great opening: audience activation and my stress level
How much stress have you experienced in the past year? Relatively little? A moderate amount? A lot? Kelly McGonigal opens her TED talk with these questions.

She asks for a show of hands to answer the questions, and this activates the audience from the start. They are engaged, thinking about something central to their lives. (And, as I am a virtual audience member, it’s not just any stress. It’s my stress! She’s got my attention.)

The power of pain
In a TED talk, your number 1 objective is getting and keeping the audience’s attention. You cannot share your message if no one is paying attention. We all deal with stress. Pain works! She gets and keeps our attention.

Surprising insights, how-to advice
Two elements combine to make this talk compelling. One is a surprising insight. We generally perceive stress as negative, but she shares research that puts stress in a new light. Stress can be healthy, if…

The “if” leads to the how-to advice. We get insight on how to address stress, based on scientific research. She surprises me and gives me something valuable.

Personal drama
A talk full of research can be quite clinical. But Kelly’s includes a personal story. She’s a health psychologist who dedicates her life to helping people. But, through her research, she discovers that her efforts in the past may have actually been harming people. Dramatic!

Strengths to stress in your presentation
How can your next presentation get our attention? Can you teach us something new and offer some how-to advice? Can your personal story add a bit of humor or drama? If you are stressing a bit to answer those questions, good job. Enjoy!

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