Of the latest TED talks trending from this year, one of our favorites is an instructional talk that evokes both the beauty of nature and inspires the audience to get dirty. Shubhendu Sharma’s “How to Grow a Forest in Your Backyard” is a fantastic presentation to watch, but not merely for its content alone. It also contains a blueprint of lessons for an aspiring speaker to learn from if they wish to deliver a TED-worthy talk.

Before we dive into what we can learn from the talk, watch the speech in its entirety below. At just over 9 minutes long, it’s well worth it:

A Lesson in Photography

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the best presentations use media to enhance the message rather than detract and distract. Sharma does a fantastic job marrying gorgeous images along with his explanatory spoken talk, providing just enough context without detracting from the lesson itself. If you want to accomplish the same technique, consider avoiding presentation text altogether. Use video or high-quality photography to illustrate your main points while you speak and your audience will more effectively pay attention to your words.

A Lesson in Brevity

If someone pitched this TED talk to you as an ECO-entrepreneur delivering a speech on how to grow a forest, what would you expect? Perhaps a lengthy, 90-minute talk that would require note taking and a lot of coffee, right? Shubhendu Sharma surprises us with a TED presentation that is clear, informative, and brief. It doesn’t feel like it’s a minute longer than it needs to be and it still accomplishes the goal of instructing the audience on how to get going with their own “jungle party.” If you want to deliver an equally effective talk, make sure that you use Sharma’s pacing and length as inspiration. Deliver something that is high-level and then provide your audience with the motivation to go out and learn more about your subject if they are interested in the details.

A Lesson in Unfolding Narratives

Great presentations are precise, clear, and organized. From just after the three-minute mark when he says: “To make a forest, we start with soil,” and then to the final line of: “And this is how we create a 100-year-old forest in just 10 years,” Sharma succinctly explains the entire forest-growing process. He makes instruction look easy, when it’s really about finding the perfect amount of detail to include in the sequential explanation. Check out the transcript of the talk to see what we mean. If you want to deliver a talk with the same order and clarity, limit each of the “steps” you describe to a sentence or even a phrase. The shorter the instruction is, the easier it will be for your audience to digest.

Lessons from Shubhendu Sharma’s TED Talk “How to Grow a Forest in Your Backyard”

Feeling inspired? If you want to watch some more recent TED talks for a dose of public speaking motivation, check out these related analysis posts on our blog:

4 Presentation Lessons from Adam Driver’s TED Talk

5 Best New 2016 TED Talks to Inspire Your Presentations

3 Essential TED Talks for the Presenter


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