SL055: How To Write A TED Talk – with Tamsen Webster

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How to Write a TED Talk 

Want to know how to write a TED Talk? In today’s interview James Taylor interviews speaker and former TEDxCambridge Executive Producer Tamsen Webster about:

  • Discovering your ‘red thread’
  • Why great ideas are built, not found
  • How to craft a TEDTalk

 

TED talk

Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript

Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

James Taylor
Hi, it’s James Taylor, founder of SpeakersU. Today’s episode was first aired as part of International Speakers Summit the world’s largest online event for professional speakers. And if you’d like to access the full video version, as well as in depth sessions with over 150 top speakers, then I’ve got a very special offer for you. Just go to InternationalSpeakersSummit.com, where you’ll be able to register for a free pass for the summit. Yep, that’s right 150 of the world’s top speakers sharing their insights, strategies and tactics on how to launch grow and build a successful speaking business. So just go to InternationalSpeakersSummit.com but not before you listen to today’s episode.

Hey, there is James Taylor, business creativity keynote speaker and founder of the International Speakers Summit. Today, I talk with Tamsen Webster, and she talks to me about how to craft a great TED Talk, discovering your red thread and why great ideas are built, not found. Enjoy the session.

Hey, it’s James Taylor. delighted today to be joined by Tamsen Webster. Park idea whisper part message strategist and pop recovering marketer. Tamsen Webster helps people and organizations like Verizon, HP bank, Ericsson, Johnson and Johnson and Disney find and communicate the power of their ideas. She is the executive producer of TEDx Cambridge, one of the oldest and largest locally organized TEDx talk events in the world, and a sought after presentation consultant, and former lives. She worked in both agencies and nonprofits heading up brand marketing and fundraising communication strategy, along with a brief but enduring turn as a change management consultant. She was a reluctant marathon marathoner twice, is a winning ballroom dancer in her mind, and everything she knows about people speaking and change she learned at Weight Watchers. That’s a true story. So welcome, Tamsin, to the side.

Tamsen Webster
Well, thank you so much delighted to be here.

James Taylor
So Shula, our attendees, what’s going on in your world just now.

Tamsen Webster
In my world right now. is there’s a very interesting strange summer conference season going on. I just finished an event that I host to help people figure out their big idea for their next talk and then about to head and attend to different conferences. So the US is a National Speakers Association Conference influence and then another event after that.

James Taylor
Wonderful and then how do you mention your journey? You’ve been a consultant on different things and you you’re kind of known as the burn ideas whisperer. helping people find, find it. The thing is, as a keynote speaker, how did you get into that work specifically,

Tamsen Webster
that work specifically came out of the work that I do with TEDx Cambridge. So as the TEDx Cambridge executive producer, one of my big roles there is to help finalize the slate of speakers and then I coach each of those speakers to the stage and that’s typically a 10 to 12 week process. And there’s the thing that I figured out as we were talking to potential speakers and working with those speakers themselves was it people have an idea of about their topic, they have an idea about their message. But the idea itself is often a very difficult thing to articulate and to clarify. But without that, it’s impossible to put together a short three to 18 minute talk like you do with Ted. So I started working on figuring out how to make it easier for people to pull out their great ideas and figured out a process for that, and eventually was able to test it through Ted and other places realized it worked, and then realize that that’s a struggle that not just Ted and TEDx speakers have. It’s a struggle that most speakers have to really figure out what’s at the core of their idea and how to make it even better.

James Taylor
Is there anything when it comes to TEDx is Ted or TEDx is specifically this very unique and different to Maybe someone’s just giving a regular one hour keynote, for example,

Tamsen Webster
a number of things. The first thing I would say that’s really different about a TED style or TEDx talk is the The barrier for entry is high. And not just because there’s application and all of that, but because there’s an expectation that the ideas have a couple really key things. One is that it’s fully within the speaker’s domain of authority is how I like to refer to it, that when you hold up the speaker and the idea, those two make sense, absolute sense together, that that speaker is utterly defensible as being an expert or an authority on that topic. Now, a lot of speakers can hit that even in a keynote, but from a TEDx, it gets attitude because there’s other expectation. The second thing that they need is what I would call burden of proof. They need to be able to show how they have put that idea to work or how it is put to work or how research backs it up or the research that they’ve done. And that is the thing that starts to take it into a different perspective. So it’s a difference for instance, between someone who has an incredibly powerful story about being diagnosed and overcoming or living with the disease. And that would be, which would be a great keynote topic, versus someone who has had that same thing. And then went on to interview 3050 100 other people with that same disease, created a documentary around it, debuted at Sundance, etc. And that’s that right there is one of those key differences are you did you put in an extra work? The third thing is that it has to be totally new. It has to be something that people haven’t heard before, and that it’s not readily available. In fact, there’s a lot of TEDx is that openly say that TEDx that excuse me that speakers who are life coaches, or business coaches, or professional keynote speakers are going to have to do even more to prove that their idea is different in some way.

James Taylor
I guess that’s because as a keynote speaker, you’re so used to working up your one or your two speeches and just going over and tweaking, improving all the time, to a certain kind of audience and so if you have to compress To an 18 minute, you know, I’m guessing that that’s maybe not right anyway for that for that type of thing. And you said, You know, I was talking to a guest I had my podcast recently would get Bregman who just did the TED, the main Ted, Ted, Ted, yes, rinse and repeat with a camera, the name of Rutgers coach they had for it as well. But he said, You know, there’s an example of someone who has real domain expertise. He’s very knowledgeable what he does, he also has done huge levels of research and have a successful book out on it as well. But he said, it was like having to do a completely different new thing again, to take that knowledge that was there in that life and the life of him as a writer and a researcher and a story and, and put it into some kind of format and it was very, very challenging. It is He speaks a lot as well. So it’s not like he doesn’t speak he speaks a lot but he said that format is a very difficult one to get right.

Tamsen Webster
It is because and you hit on one aspect of it, which is that to get to the timeframe, which is three to 18 minutes, you can’t just take a bigger talk and squish it down. If they’re there, you have to do one of two things either take it way up and give it a much more overarching view, like a chronological view, this is how I came up with this idea. And here’s the impact that it had. Or you have to go much, much deeper to some core concepts that the book may represent. But it isn’t, or a talk may represent. But isn’t that main piece. The second real flip in the format itself is that it they don’t work when they are what I would refer to as the academic style of presentation. So an academic style. I don’t even mean that, you know, oh, it’s a professor reading notes from an actor. And I think a lot of keynote speakers end up doing this, which is we give the answer to the problem right out of the gate. We say we have this problem, here’s the solution. And then the rest of the talk is either justification for that solution or examples of that. So solution or exercises based off of that solution? And those can be incredibly interesting, incredibly engaging talks. Absolutely. But they, they don’t feel like a story to people,

James Taylor
it feels like someone that’s been a trainer or a consultant. So they think their mindset is in that way of problem solution. Like, you know, speed explanation. Yeah, exactly. You’re talking about his his storytelling, which is a different storytelling.

Tamsen Webster
And it’s important to understand is that it isn’t just slapping stories on to do an idea or a talk because there are even videos on Ted calm where somebody tells a story at the beginning. And it’s completely unrelated to the talk that they end up giving. And then you as the audience member, you go like, Well, it wasn’t a story, but why did you tell that when I’m talking about is is structuring the information around any idea. And I would say training and consulting even works just as well, if not better when it’s framed this way as well, where it takes people through an emotional journey. Up and down, back backwards and forwards through a discovery of information. So that you may introduce a problem up front, but that you don’t give the actual solution to it until later in in the talk. In fact, we have to make sure that we’ve made the case for the solution before you give the solution. And that does two things. One, it means that you as a speaker ends up building this beautiful suspense and kind of emotional feeling to the talk, even if it’s not an emotional talk. And the second thing is that by the time you get to the conclusion, by the time you get to that thing that you want people to do differently. They feel like Oh, of course, and then there’s no defensiveness on their part. Whereas an academic piece or an academic structure, think of it that way. Once you’ve once you’ve said to someone, here’s the problem, here’s my solution to it, then you’re really in a position of defending that idea for the rest of the talk. And then you hope at the end of it that you’ve convinced that Everyone that you’ve made it. But I’d much prefer to get little bits of agreement all the way along so that when you get to that solution, when you get to that big idea, the audience goes, Oh, that’s, Oh, of course. And so that you know that you get that reveal built in and you get that you get that wonder that the audience comes away feeling Not only that, that that you were smart, and this was a great idea, but they end up feeling smarter. And that, to me is a huge goal of any speaker.

James Taylor
The ones I remember very strongly are of different types. You like Ken Robinson’s talk, which is quite more more professor, I would say. Proof premise, premise proof. Sorry. There’s there’s a lot of kind of standard things of good speakers, keynote speakers would do. And then I speak think of there was a doctor, a doctor Taylor Taylor’s name namesake, who went through having a stroke and she had a neuroscientist so she was talking through That was very narrative LED, and you felt you were going on a journey. And it was almost a little bit, Tarantino esque where you’re getting these snippets of things. And it didn’t make sense, but you knew it was going somewhere, but you couldn’t work out where it was going. And then the kind of reveal starts to happen at the end, which I think is really difficult to do for an hour to hold people in those kind of suspend to not give, you know, give them that that kind of, Okay, this is the key takeaways. But within that nine minute or 18 minute segment, it’s actually really powerful to do because you can play in a different way and, and can take people in little journeys and have stories going alongside each other. And you can have a lot more, a lot more creativity, even though you’ve compressed it in a short period of time.

Tamsen Webster
Well, the way I like to think about is that any any any great talk that moves an audience from point A to point z by the by the beginning to the end, follows a basic structure and that structure is the same and what’s interesting is that it functions In the same way in an 18 minute talk as it can, in a 90 minute keynote, the flesh around it can look very different, just like you and I share skeletons that are going to look very much alike. But everything that we do, how we move, what we do with it, how we look in the outside, is very, very different. And so what’s fascinating, I know that talk to polti, Taylor’s talk called my stroke of insight is that she does all sorts of fascinating things with with that talk. And if you think about, and one of the most interesting thing is that she that she does kind of hold back on what the big idea is of that talk until quite close to the end. But here’s what’s interesting is that that structure I’m talking about, can actually be replicated in a much longer keynote. But what you’re doing is you need to treat the sections of the talk almost as little versions of TED Talks. And what I mean by that is, you know, getting someone introducing them to a problem. You know, from an initial goal that the audience might want introducing them to a problem is something that probably could or should take you about 10 to 15 minutes. But you can structure that piece to feel like a TED talk where the big reveal is the problem I see. And then you and then you can extend it by saying, Okay, well, now the next thing is, you know, where the next 10 to 20 minutes is a big reveal to get to not a solution. And this is one place where I get feisty about it is actually to a deeper understanding something I refer to as the core idea of a talk that can get there. And then the next piece is this, you know, 510 15 minutes to get you to what change now what does that mean? What’s the big shift and approach? Or what’s the big solution that we have to get to? And then you’ve got the last 1520 minutes to talk about what does that look like in action so that you come back to that original goal of the talk. So really, that structure exists, whether it’s in three minutes, which I’ve seen it done, you can look at Derek Severs talk TED talk on how to start a movement all the way through Through 1690 minute keynotes, it’s just about how how much time you spent in between those kind of bones that need to be there.

James Taylor
So I was a talk on Friday. It was it was a den I was invited. It was former President Barack Obama, he was speaking and got a chance to speak to him for an hour she had, I had to ask him any advice he had for freshers speakers or public speakers because he’s doing a such a great orator, and we can meet conflate of things. And to my humor use of humor. In a talk, I noticed something he did right at the start, which is kind of similar to like the second Robinson’s one is he started using humor, actually, he kind of broke broke the ice there. And then he made a statement of something which you could get like 99% of people in the room, got, you know, would agree on, and then that foundation, he then kind of moved on to things as well. So I’m just wondering like that, that use of humor, especially very early in when where does it go from being candid? Have an entertaining style or entertaining talk to an effective talk?

Tamsen Webster
Well, when it comes to humor, I would say from the use of humor, the difference between entertaining and effective is whether or not that humor is related to the point that you’re trying to land. Or are you just saying something funny to be funny, and funny to be funding is great, it opens, it opens the door for some speakers that helps them feel more relaxed, it gets the audience to feel more relaxed, you get all those endorphins going in the audience. And that’s great. I think there’s another bar that you can get to though, and I think that you can be just as funny and it can land a point that you’re trying to land. And what’s interesting even about Kevin Ken Robinson’s talk, the one that you refer to is that the humor he’s using in the beginning is if you go back and look at it actually is absolutely tied to the points that he’s trying to make in the talk. And that is when you move from just entertaining too effective. When the stories that you tell when the humor that you use is drives for the point In some way, that’s I think that’s a bar where I’d love to see more speakers go and cross

James Taylor
what one of the things you’re known for is this idea of the the red thread. So you’ve spoken about this before, and I i was i was watching brock obama speak, I was actually thinking about his red thread for it. And I sense that his was and we talked about what red thread is and confining your own your own red thread as well. But my sense was his voice change. You know, he spoke in presidential elections before change was a huge part of it. And I was listening to what he was speaking about on stage and this time, he’s talking about automation and machine learning and artificial intelligence, how that’s going to change the nature of work and what we do and how we have to rescale and retrain people think so that that you know, and it may be whether he kind of reflects on it or not, but that from an audience perspective member, I kind of felt that that’s the thing that was kind of tying all of his work together. So what is that? What is a red thread? Because I think it’s quite important, especially in an early stage and speakers career, that they think about that because it’s very natural just want to get booking gigs and booking speaking engagements without maybe taking a little bit a step back and thinking about well, what what is that? That thread there?

Tamsen Webster
Sure. So the red thread itself is is a concept that I first learned from some Swedish clients of mine. It’s a phrase that Scandinavians use and they use it to talk about or in the context of asking, what is the thing that makes this make sense? And so if they’re looking for the message or the through line of something, they say, what is the red thread? And from a from I think we all have that need, don’t wait it to understand when we’re listening to something, particularly to a talk that we want to be able to quickly and easily answer. If somebody says, Well, what was the talk about to be able to have a crisp, clean, effective answer to that, and if we’re a speaker, then we Wouldn’t it be great? Wouldn’t it be wonderful that we could use that as a test? If we walk into giving a talk saying, This is what this talk is about? Even if you never told that to the audience, you could test the audience by afterwards going after so and say, Well, what did you think the talk was about? And if you hear back that answer yet, like that red thread, then you know, you’ve succeeded at it. The challenge, of course, is well, how do you get to that quick answer? And this is where this is where a lot of what I learned in the years that I’ve now worked with TEDx speakers came into play, because a lot of times we try to work backwards from a red thread. We try to work backwards from Well, here’s the here’s my big idea. Here’s my, here’s my message. But I believe very strongly that ideas aren’t found. They’re built. They are built out of a couple different key components that have to be there. Before you can really effectively answer that question. What is the talk about? So for instance, a lot of people if you’re familiar with the TED Talk, Like Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power posing. You know, you could say, well, what’s the talk about? Well, some people might say, well, it’s about body language or it’s about imposter syndrome. It’s about power posing. But I would argue that, like the the Crispus answer to that is that that that talk is about the red thread of that talk is about how to use body language to overcome and power pop, excuse me how to use body language to overcome imposter syndrome. But you see, we have to understand a couple things before we can get there. That’s where this this process that I came up with, with the TED speakers turned into a method that I now call the red thread. And it goes back to that idea that we were talking about before about the bones of a talk that have to be there. And you mentioned one already, which is you said that Barack Obama started with a statement that really early on, everyone could say yes to and I refer to that as the goal. That is that the audience needs to hear something fairly early on in a presentation that answers For them, what will I get if I listen to this? And so, Amy Cuddy’s talk, for instance, starts off by talking about imposter syndrome. And so this is a this is an example of what’s the audience’s goals. I want to overcome imposter syndrome. Now, a goal is really only interesting and a story is really interesting if it’s if there’s a problem and it’s way. And so the next big bone that has to be the next big piece of the red thread that has to be present in any any talk is a problem. And not just a problem that the audience could readily see. Is there not a known barrier? Not like, Oh, well, it feels uncomfortable to be out front of people if we’re talking about Amy Cuddy’s talk, but some deeper underlying problem that you as the as the speaker can identify. Then the next piece is is actually something very, very important. I mentioned it earlier. It’s that there is an idea that explains both why the problem is such a problem and why the change They’re the solution, you’re going to recommend as the only one that can be there. It’s something that people can’t unhear it is something that describes the world in a wholly new way. And if people could understand and agree with it, then they would understand and agree with the change they’re going to recommend. So we’ve got gold problem idea, then and only then in my mind, should you introduce the change that you’re asking people to make? Because in order for a red thread to make to have meaning for people, and meaning, in fact, is this kind of Trojan horse of change, it has to make sense. And so you really need that problem, idea change. And then the last piece, not always there, and Ted Talks, almost always there in a longer talk, his actions, the actions that make that change happen. So I put all those together. And if you go back and look at some of these great talks, they have those elements in that order. And when a talk doesn’t work, it’s usually missing an element or the elements are out of order.

James Taylor
So I’m thinking of that just now. And And then what the one that springs to mind is the Simon Sinek start with why so his the the start with one is a visual representation of it as well. So that the idea that you can’t was it can’t unhear Yes, that’s that that’s that thing when he does that and you go Oh, okay. Okay, I get it now and then obviously then kind of goes into the the change and talking about what’s required or to get to that point as well and and I can’t remember off the top my head of his actions at the end I can’t remember off the top

Tamsen Webster
I really aren’t in his Yeah, his is a great example of the talk actually starts right out of the gate with with the goal statement. He asks a question right up front about what why is it that some companies succeed where others don’t? Why is it that some companies are able to stand out where others and then gives an example with apple? And I would argue that the idea that’s at the core of that talk is the moment where he says people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you buy Do it. Yeah. So it’s that moment where people go, Oh, yeah. And then everything Ah, and then and then it goes and then explains it in reverse at this is, this is why we have to go figure it out. So what he’s doing up until that point is showing that, that you know how people currently explain what they do, showing that there are companies that that have a deeper explanation for it then uses that to say, people don’t buy what you do they buy, why you do it. And then the second half of the talk basically is about illustrating that golden circle, how it works and how it applies. And you’re right, there really isn’t an action to that talk. But that talk is about getting people to that new idea, and then showing them how that idea applies to their world.

James Taylor
And I’m gonna have to go watch that now. I’ll make sure we have the link here because I think it’s interesting because that start with why phrase is used all the time. I hear again, use all the time, and I’d be interested find out how often they use that phrase in in the actual talk where they kind of echoed it back. You know, like, like a great jazz trumpeter would would kind of play that theme every so often and kind of and they would go in variations on a theme or something. So be interested in, how he’s doing it. What one of the other things that you can train on when you’re working and you coach on when you’re working with clients, is about the pacing site, and the the kind of physicality and the pace and that’s one of the things I always put away from the hearing Barack Obama talk is his masterful use of pacing and the pause and the and the breath. And so when you first start working with some of the kind of common things you find that your prospective Ted talkers do that you have to kind of like work on at a relatively early stage with them when it comes to pacing and and how they present themselves in that way.

Tamsen Webster
I think the best way to sum up the thing that most people fall in a trap of is that they deliver everything thing kind of in the same way. And Michael Porter, who I know is also on your list of speakers for this, spends a lot of time in his book steal the show on this on that idea of contrast. And I think that’s the biggest thing for people to understand that it’s it. The reason why pauses work, the reason why some speaker seems so effective is because they’ve managed to create contrast. So why is the contrast so important and that the contrast is so important because it’s, it helps direct attention, that helps direct the audience’s attention to there are certain things that I need to pay more attention to, are there certain things that I don’t have to be fully tuned in with. But think of it this way, if somebody is just talking the same way all the time, then you get to a point where you can start to tune them out. It’s when they stop talking. Or when something starts to be really different about how they talk that you start to really listen. So the the, you know, there are people who do much much more work on delivery than I do, but what I what I found is a couple hacks, you know, kind of easy ways to flip people into better delivery really quickly. And the chief hack that I use is something I call the traffic light system or the signal system. It’s red light, yellow light, green light, since most of us have those colors when it comes to traffic systems. And here’s the way to think about it. The vast majority of any presentation should be delivered as on a green light, like you can go Go quickly. And in fact, you should go quickly you should be talking at what is your normal conversational speed, even if that’s fairly fast, so I don’t believe in people talking too fast. I do believe in people talking too fast for too long. Because that becomes difficult for people to pull out what the big ideas are.

James Taylor
So like a Tony Robbins is a classic example someone who speaks very fast or or Gary Vaynerchuk speaks very fast. But they’re still known as great speakers because we’ll go into your point,

Tamsen Webster
because there’s going to be those moments where if I’m speaking fast, and I’m getting that there’s gonna be This moment where I reach up point where everything changes. And when that happens, the audience is going to like, stop, listen. And so what I find about great speakers is they have at the opposite end of the green light content is what I call red light content, where you want to stop, you want to pause, you’re going to be going in terms of your normal pace probably quite slowly. But when you do that people have this clear idea of when I need to lean in when I need to lean out it’s a technique though I put that traffic signal signal thing I learned this technique I learned at a company I used to work for called called or rotti of or a ti M. And they had this very much this this idea of how do you think through these different pacings and I think the the red light yellow light, green light is a really effective way to do that. So green light, most of your talk or presentation. The red light should be your key concepts and the Guess what those key concepts are? They are the goal, the problem, the idea, the change, and those actions so that somebody listening through can go, all right, telling a story telling a story. But here’s the point. Why is it that certain kids are creative beyond childhood and other ones aren’t. And then I’m back to a story, it’s back to a story back to a story. So there’s one more color in there. And that’s the yellow light content. And what I described the yellow light content is it use it as you’re supposed to use a yellow light, which is to slow down not to speed up and go through, but it’s a place where you want to make sure that you’re careful with how you’re speaking about something. So you’re not going to be in your full slow, here’s a big point moment. But you do need to slow it down because this is a concept that maybe they haven’t heard before. So if I’m going along and talking and you know, telling the story about the red thread, for instance, I want to stop and say well, the red thread is a phrase that comes For Swedish, that means really what is this thing about what is the thing that makes things make sense, and the way it came from us debt and I can go back. So yellow light is for those moments of explanation, those moments for new concepts, and the moments where you’re introducing a phrase or a word that people may not know. But then once you’re there, you’re going to either want to go straight into something that’s red light, or probably more likely back to green light. And most people I think would benefit from speeding up the basic pace of their presentation, but slowing down just on those chemo adding that contrast and as you as

James Taylor
you were saying, as well you know, Ted we think a TED an idea worth spreading is the is the phrase that’s used for that all the time. What takes an idea from being interesting every day but you know can interesting to being knocked out extraordinary new agent Derek Severs friend and he due to how ideas spread and how movements are created, you know, that’s I thought that was extremely, very short, but extraordinary as well. Yeah. So what is it that takes that idea from just being the everyday hum? to extraordinary?

Tamsen Webster
Well, the, the thing that I found about it is that it’s about figuring out how to make each piece of it as unique and as different as possible. And so what I mean by that is, is, you know, when I first start working with folks on finding the red thread of something, and one of those first questions is, well, what, what problem does this solve? And, for instance, one of the most common answers I get, as well as fear people are afraid. And fear could be a great base problem for a keynote, it is not going to be enough usually to make an idea stand out amazing, because it’s the people who’ve done the work of figuring out one layer deeper. What’s his fear blind you to? What does it keep you from doing what’s causing the fear? And can you describe that in a way that others Haven’t heard before, or that people haven’t heard before. That’s one of the first places to set your idea apart. One of the things to remember about a great problem statement in my mind is that it’s, it’s it represents tension between tension between one way of seeing the world that the audience is doing right now and a way that you’re going to introduce them to. And if you think about it, just from that standpoint, that’s why fear isn’t enough, because it’s not fear between two things. Fear is a statement, you can’t unfit be unafraid, suddenly, from people, you can’t talk someone out of a feeling, but you can help them understand if that that fear is for instance, blinding them to seeing, like the big picture of something, you know, it’s the fear is getting them to focus and seeing only the details, and now that’s something that they can fix. And you can say, Okay, yeah, fears there. We all know that fear exists. But here’s in this case, what it’s helping you to do. If you do that same kind of thinking kind of all the way through and say okay, well what’s what’s more interesting different way to say the idea what’s a different change that I can put out there, then you get this mathematical ability to make an idea. unique and really strong at the same time.

James Taylor
So that almost sounds like that. The first level of fear being I mean, I think I talked about automation and the future of work. So the first step was everyone kind of knows that things are changing, you know, in a big way with automation machine learning. So that kind of like that’s that level one, really. But you have to kind of go a level then below that, in order to find something that’s unique that’s memorable that actually people can can use it has some kind of transform transformative effect on them. So after they leave that room after 18 minutes, they go, Okay, I can’t remember.

Tamsen Webster
Exactly, well,

Tamsen Webster
exactly. It’s about going that narrow, next layer deeper, and I’d say the other the equivalent of fear, and so I is that, you know, on the other side, so the most common change that I see people recommend is The equivalent of baby steps will just take small steps. So if you’re afraid of something, just take small steps. And and so fear and baby steps is what I call it. It’s what I call it what I see it as something that isn’t, you know, I described a talk that way, if it’s like, oh, that’s a fear of baby steps. Meaning it’s a talk, it’s basically an idea I’ve heard before in one way or another because the problem is fear and solutions, baby steps. But if you start to think differently about how you get to a problem, so let’s say that the problem with automation isn’t just fear, that’s but that’s a good place to start because it gets the audience on page and you can acknowledge that, you know, you understand that where they’re coming from. If you want to get to a point, for instance, where I’m working with a couple of speakers for our next TED event, right now TEDx event right now, where, for instance, here, but we’ve got this tension between the pace of development the pace of evolution of technology is in fact at odds with the pace of evolution of humans where technology is evolving faster than humans can keep up. Well, now you’ve got a new Now you’ve got a real problem to a explain why the fear is valid, but B, now you’ve got something that you can dig into in a really meaty way.

James Taylor
There’s a tension there, there’s a tension. So there’s a tension going on that that quest there’s that there’s a tension there.

Tamsen Webster
But you have to figure out what that is. And fear is an effort it fears a signal that tension exists. That’s your clue. You’re like you’ve you’ve identified that fear is present. Great. Now you have to figure out why, like, either what’s causing the fear or what is the fear keeping you from doing and once you’ve got that tension, now you’ve got something that you can create a much more interesting change is the result. Because if you’ve got to change, for instance, so I’m going to use a talk from a different event that we had where we had a speaker who was talking about big data, so similar in a lot of ways to AI, and and she was talking about the problem, you know, the root problem that she came down to was that big data doesn’t create just create more knowledge, it creates more unknowns. So That, you know, if we’re talking about an organization or a business that wants to reduce their risk and their businesses you’re making, and they’re using big data to do it, she’s validating the fact that is creating more knowledge. But she’s also introducing a bigger problem, which is it creates more unknowns. And so before just saying, Okay, so, you know, make sure you’ve got better big data, which would be a very simple, not very interesting change, she introduces the idea, which is that the greatest business risk comes from the unknown. So now all of a sudden, there’s a new idea that you’re like, ah, of course, which now indicates why big data on its own is such a problem. I’ve got more unknowns, thanks to my big data. And that’s where the risk is, therefore, that sets up a change, if not just ease into ease into big data with baby steps, but she’s saying, No, we need to, we need to counterbalance big data with something that this is a woman named Trisha Wong, that we counterbalance with something called the thick data so that it’s not big and fast. And surface and whatever, but it’s thick and it gets to the insights and it gets people’s engagement going. When you have a better problem, it makes that core idea easier to find and more powerful. And it sets up a more interesting change that allows you to have ownership of it. And it’s that ability to own the idea that I think really takes it to a different level. And so this is the standard. I think that coming back to that question of entertaining versus effectiveness that we have to have, which is that is it clear? Can people in a moment in a sentence in, in in a tweet be able to tell you or tell someone else? More importantly, what is the talk about? So is it clear, the second, is it defensible? Does it make sense that you’re speaking about it? Have you made the case for it? Is it Have you thought through what the objections are Have you have you actually deconstructed them in the course of the talk? And then finally, is it differentiated? Have you been able to take that clarity and that defensibility Create something that’s different. And here’s the thing, I believe that everybody has that clear, defensible, differentiated idea within them. I know that not everybody is willing to put the work in to find it, or necessarily to, to do the work to put it on a TEDx stage. But even if more speakers who are just keynote speakers, professional speakers, even if we just moved everything forward to that level of of saying, Let’s make effectiveness circle, I think we would find that would help us satisfy even more what meeting organizers and meeting planners are looking for. Because they are looking for something more than just entertainment. They have to defend these fees. They have to defend why they’re pulling together, hundreds or thousands of people from their company and putting somebody else up in front of them. They need to see true changes and thinking and behavior that come afterwards. And not just little tactical things that those are important. They need to see that shift. In order to get that shift. We have to work on our ideas.

James Taylor
And I guess that’s the difference. To take someone from being a side room speaker speaking on one of the master class or something actually be speaking on on the big stage. Yes. And, you know, it’s interesting as you talk about that, you know, that that that red thread as well, I would, I would imagine, it is difficult, perhaps impossible to find that on your own. Because you’re, especially if you’re a subject matter expert, you are so deep in, in what your your subject is, regardless, you know, especially if you come from the academic side as well, you’re so in it the whole time to be able to, you know, have someone else, you know, look and have those other sets of eyes and going to go actually, you think it’s this actually, this is where it where it’s at. So that’s obviously one of the things that you do, and I know we’ve got mutual friends you’ve done helped them with finding their red thread, and it’s been transformative for them. In fact, they’ve I know one person in particular who’s basically was inspired Writing one book and we’re doing one speech and change. And it’s creating a completely different book and a different speech. And it’s a much stronger book and speech, I think for it as well. So yes, talk to us about the red thread worksheet.

Tamsen Webster
Absolutely. So the red thread worksheet is your first step to being able to find the red thread on your own because it is possible. I don’t want I wouldn’t put something out there and say like, No, actually, you just have to hire me to get it. Because but what it is we’ll walk you through the the five questions that I ask people when I’m working with them, to find their red thread or the red thread of their talk or their platform. And it’s going to it’s going to be an opportunity for you to start pulling through those concepts for yourself. So I’m going to ask you, what is the audience’s goal? What is the thing they would readily say yes to that thing, like Barack Obama that everyone is like, Yeah, okay. We’re Yes, this would be great. I want to know a talk that I want to hear a talk that’s about this. ask you questions about the problem so that you can think through where does that tension come from what we’ve just talked about before ask you what is the idea that explains that problem and justifies the change of the solution they’re going to make asks you for your change then asked you to list out those actions. So it is a place to get started. And what you can do is that the, the best way to do it, if you want to do it on your own, is to talk it through with some someone else, because you’re right, we are so close to our own ideas that it’s often very difficult for us to see them I like to describe it this way is that, you know, when you’re operating on a computer, whether it’s a Mac or PC, and you’re moving, you know, you’re dragging and dropping a folder around your desktop, for instance, that feels super easy to it’s it’s second nature to us now. And what we don’t realize and we don’t even consciously think about is that that’s all the product of code that’s written underneath it that we don’t see. And when we live our lives when we produce these ideas, it’s very much the same way that the work that you’ve done so far the talks that you’ve done so far, the books that you’ve written so far The life that you’ve led so far is the same thing as the desktop on your computer. It’s the manifestation of this underlying code. And what I found with these five questions is that that they won’t always be easy to answer, but they are the best way I found so far to start to surface that code out to show you what are some of those baseline assumptions, beliefs, values that you have that explain why you care so much about what you do or why certain topics are so interesting to you or why a talk that you gave five years ago is related to the one that you’re working on now. Because it all comes from the same code. I think I often say to my clients as you cannot keep a good red thread down it will show up again and again and again in everything you do. So this worksheet is really help designed to help you start to surface that code and start to see the pieces for yourself.

James Taylor
I think also we have many people on this summit who are attending who are professional speakers may be seen for a long time, but maybe they a point where it’s maybe time for a little bit of reinvention in terms of the what they speak about. And I think something like this will be incredibly useful for them as well, as they take a step back, because it’s so easy. I know, for professionals, keynote speakers, you got to start getting books and starts getting busy, then you start adding other products on other things. And before, you know, it’s like, what, what happened, what am I surrounded with? And so it was kind of difficult to then make make that switch. Is it challenging, I would say and it would be brave to have to make that switch, you know, it’s time is there to do that. So I think the red thread the you know, the worksheet is also a value. Even if you’re not getting started you maybe you’ve been in Korea for a while just to go through that process and maybe reevaluate what what that what that threat is for you.

Tamsen Webster
You’re right, people get busy, which is why a couple times a year I pull together people over the course of a weekend to work on this intensively because if with busy keynote speakers, I’ve heard exactly that from folks that have been Through that weekend where they’ve said, I wouldn’t have worked on this this way if I hadn’t had if I didn’t have to spend a day and a half working on it. And what’s fascinating about every single one of them is that they come away with a new and refresh perspective and an excitement about a talk. Maybe they’ve been giving for years because they say, oh, which is little tiny shifts, I can see how to make this talk that’s already been very good, very profitable for me. Great. And now even in certain cases, they can start to see where the next one comes from. Where’s the next one? And how do you start to create a system around your talks, a series of talks so that a client that loves one talk that you give, then you can say well, if you love that one, then here’s a great follow on to that one. And it all comes back to that red thread

James Taylor
and I know you’re also speaking you speak at Michael ports, who wrote public speaking live events as well. So people are checking any of those they can I know you, you can have your there and you’re the ideas whisperer helping people find their red threads, which is absolutely awesome. is a very very valuable service. So thank you very much for helping all those new and professional very experienced speakers can reconnect with with their red thread anywhere else if anyone wants to maybe connect with you follow up with you isn’t where’s the best placement to go for that?

Tamsen Webster
Everything that you would want to know I think you can find centralised on Tamsin webster.com but also feel free to connect on LinkedIn and Facebook brand page which is facebook.com slash Tamsin Webster and on Twitter at at Tamra dear ta ma de AR

James Taylor
wonderful Thompson, thank you so much for coming on. I look forward to meeting up with you soon.

Tamsen Webster
All right, thanks so much. Today’s episode

James Taylor
was sponsored by speakers you the online community for speakers. And if you’re serious about your speaking career, then you can join us because you membership program. Our speakers you members receive private one on one coaching with me hundreds of hours of training, content and access to a global community to help them launch and build a profitable business around their speaking message and experts. So just head over to speakers u.com to learn more

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