Ask for advice on preparing to give a presentation and you’ll likely hear some combination of: Power pose! Breathe deeply! Envision the audience in their underwear!
For sure, those tips can help alleviate some of the anxiety around public speaking.
But at some point before the presentation, it’s crucial to pause, take a step back, and ask yourself why you’re giving the talk in the first place.
Business Insider spoke to Brown before an event at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, and she told us that every successful speaker – on the TED stage or elsewhere – is motivated by a sense of “curiosity” about how their idea can help other people change the world.
Put simply, before you hit the stage, ask yourself: Will this talk benefit others – or just you?
“If you’re not curious about the power of resonance in your talk or the impact your talk could have, then it becomes self-indulgent,” Brown said.
“The worst-case scenario is you get on a stage and the reason for delivering the talk is about you,” she added. “It really should be an act of generosity.”
Speaking with TED curator Chris Anderson at the Rubin, Brown said she declines 90% of the speaking requests she receives.
“If I’m not feeling generous and I don’t feel like I’m coming from that place, I don’t want to go,” Brown said. “It’s not good for me; it’s not good for people in the audience.”
Anderson, who recently published a book titled “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” added that there’s a huge difference between someone who’s trying to pitch themselves or their product and someone who’s aiming to inspire the audience.
The audience is constantly asking themselves, “What’s going on? Is this person going to offer me something or are they pushing something onto me?”
“As soon as you see the ego and you get the sense, ‘Oh, this is all about them,’ or you see that there is an agenda – they want me to buy their book or support their company,” the audience will likely lose interest, Anderson said.
The best way to think about giving a talk, he said, is giving a “gift” to your audience. Focus on them and what they need, and you’ll ultimately give a more compelling, dynamic presentation.