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That’s the advice of Jim Wagstaffe, former mentor to Briar Goldberg, TED’s Director of Speaker Coaching. If you’re curious what Mr. Wagstaffe meant by ABC, it’s an acronym that stands for Audience Before Content. Briar Goldberg stated, “I love that acronym so much…” and I concur with that sentiment.
Ms. Goldberg goes on to say that when preparing speakers to give their TED talk, the question posed to speakers is to consider what gift they’re giving to the audience. In my opinion, this is a brilliant question that too often many speakers overlook. When you think about your upcoming presentation, it truly is a form of a gift, and the audience is the receiver of that gift. This is something all speakers should realize before developing their words, their slide deck or their props.
The other piece of advice from Briar Goldberg is what to do when speaking to three types of audiences which are: experts, novices, or mixed. The point Ms. Goldberg makes is that when the speaker is addressing an audience of experts, best to use logical or quantitative arguments, when addressing novices, speakers should use their own reputation and credibility, and when the speaker has a mixture of experts and novices, try appealing to their emotions. Excellent advice– don’t you agree with Ms. Goldberg?
In my two decades of experience with public speakers, I find that their focus is to inform. While that may be part of the goal, it doesn’t really take into account the “gift” aspect. The next time you’re invited to speak ask yourself what is your unique gift and does the audience need or want your gift? If so, then I recommend taking the sage words of Briar Goldberg into consideration. After all, being a TED speaker is a significant accomplishment but like most accomplishments, it doesn’t come without careful research, practice, and perseverance.
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