If we were to tell you a 20 minute presentation could convince you that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love, would you buy it? It sounds impossible, yet this is exactly what Brené Brown accomplishes during her TED Talk presentation, “The Power of Vulnerability.” We believe that her poignant presenting technique achieves what data alone cannot do. Here are some ways she adds authenticity and meaning to her study of vulnerability and self-worth:

“Stories Are Data With Soul”

At Ethos3, are advocates for narrative in a presentation. Stories engage the audience, enhance memory, and increase empathy. Brené Brown begins her presentation by establishing her “accidental” skill in storytelling at 0:47. She doubts her own skill initially, “why not a magic pixie?” but happily realizes her calling and collects enough stories for her study and a subsequent book (as well as an awesome TED Talk). Throughout the presentation, storytelling proves to be her strongest asset.

Simplistic, Clear Slides

Brené Brown is also an advocate for a style we love at Ethos3: clear, minimal slides that share one main point. She uses this design throughout, at 1:55, for example, with the words: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.” Brené also uses her slides to support larger, more poignant points such as the “shame and fear” slide at 4:54, and the “little breakdown” slide at 11:21. Watch and learn, potential presenters, this is the best way to enhance main points and keep your audience focused.

Personal Details and Humor

This particular TED Talk has been popularized not only by its content, but by the humor used throughout. Her life runs in parallel with her study of vulnerability, like when she mentions trying to “outsmart shame” at minute 6:00, followed by: “As you know, it’s not going to turn out well.” This continues when she has her “little breakdown” at about minute 11:21, giving the audience context about the difficulty of the larger concepts uncovered in the study. The self-deprecating humor makes her relatable and keeps us focused and empathetic.

Poignant Moments

Human vulnerability, love, and shame are challenging topics. For example, when Brené Brown says: “In order for a connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.” at 5:30. Her main point is also a tough one, that we must have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to ourselves, and create human connections by being authentic. Where Brené Brown succeeds is by relating her personal struggle to embrace these concepts.

It’s hard to speak to large topics about emotion and self-worth, but Brené Brown succeeds through skillful presentation technique. This includes adding a dash of humor, breaking down large ideas into relatable ones, and supporting her data with no-nonsense slides. We could all take a lesson from her highly convincing TED Talk.

Question: How did Brené Brown’s talk inspire you?

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