TEDx Talking: Best Selling Author Savio P. Clemente On What You Need To Know To Secure, Prepare, and Deliver a Highly Effective TEDx Talk
…For me, the TEDx talk was about confronting a fear, sharing a part of my story to inspire and give hope, and potentially shaping people’s views on life and the world. I often discuss the idea of purpose and encourage individuals to look beyond individual purpose to consider our collective purpose on this planet. It’s important to delve deep within, wrestle with these concepts, and embrace mindset shifts and spirituality. Ultimately, it’s about recognizing the need for all of us to take a deeper pause and reflect…
I had the pleasure of interviewing Savio P. Clemente. Savio is a beacon of resilience and clarity in the health and wellness community. A Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC) and stage 3 cancer survivor, Savio’s journey is not just about overcoming personal hurdles; it’s a testament to his commitment to helping others navigate the complexities of life after cancer. His work as a coach, journalist, author, and podcaster centers on empowering cancer survivors and wellness seekers to find purpose and build a resilient mindset.
Born in Mumbai, India, Savio moved to the United States at the age of three, growing up in Westchester County, New York. His formative years in the suburbs and education in New York City shaped his perspective on life and its challenges. In 2014, a life-altering diagnosis of stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma steered Savio onto an unexpected path. His triumph over the disease in just four and a half months, leading to nine years of remission, is a story of hope and determination.
Post-recovery, Savio’s focus shifted towards guiding others through similar struggles. His experience led to the founding of The Human Resolve LLC, a platform where he combines his coaching expertise with personal insights to support those grappling with health challenges. As a #1 best-selling author, Savio curated an inspiring book that showcases the narratives of 35 carefully selected cancer survivors, including his own. These stories were thoughtfully chosen from a comprehensive interview series featuring insights from 200 cancer survivors, offering a profound source of inspiration and strength.
Savio’s role extends beyond coaching to being a journalist and podcaster. His interviews with celebrities and TV personalities enrich his audience’s understanding of resilience and survival. His contributions to notable media outlets like Fox News, The Wrap, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg, underline his influence and reach in the wellness sector.
In 2023, Savio’s impact was further amplified by his TEDx talk, “7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger.” This presentation in Raleigh, North Carolina encapsulates his journey and offers the A.L.O.H.A. Reboot, a unique approach to inner self-connection. His weekly newsletter is another avenue where he explores the concept of feeding the “three brains” — head, heart, and gut — and connects the intricate aspects of our nature essential to living a fulfilling life.
Savio P. Clemente’s mission is clear: to inspire and equip people to lead a healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. His story is one of transformation, not just for himself but for the countless lives he touches through his work.
Savio, it’s an honor and delight to be with you today. Before we dive in deep, our readers would love to learn about your personal origin story. Can you share this story of your childhood and how you grew up?
I am a child of two immigrants who came to this country when I was three years old. My parents are originally from Goa, India. I grew up in Westchester County, New York, about 40 miles north of New York City, experiencing a typical suburban upbringing. I attended college in the city and lived there for a while after graduating. Later, I moved back to a different part of Westchester County.
In 2014, I received a diagnosis of stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which significantly altered the direction of my life. Fortunately, through a combination of traditional and integrative modalities, I successfully overcame the diagnosis in four and a half months. As of December 2023, I have been in remission for nine years.
After my cancer journey, I decided to leverage my experience to help others. Five years later, I became a board-certified wellness coach. I initiated a podcast and collaborated with my friend Yitzi as a media journalist, focusing on cancer survivorship and gathering doctors’ opinions on cancer, longevity, resilience, stress-proofing, and overcoming the fear of failure. In February of last year, I launched a best-selling book sharing the stories of 35 cancer survivors, including my own. In October 2023, I delivered my first TEDx talk in Raleigh, North Carolina, which was released at the end of December 2023. The talk, titled ‘7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Strange,’ chronicles my journey and offers insights and a call to action called the A.L.O.H.A. (Acknowledgment, Listening, Opening, Harnessing, and Acting) Reboot, encouraging people to connect with their inner selves.
Before we talk about the details, let’s consider the big picture. Preparing for a TEDx talk and securing it obviously requires a lot of mindshare, bandwidth, resources, and energy. From your personal experience, why was it worth it to invest all that to do a TEDx talk?
The investment in the TEDx talk was not only a personal one but also a significant monetary commitment, as I joined an incubator, Thought-Leader.com, that had already helped over 400 people reach the TEDx stage. In 2023, I realized that the primary fear holding me back was public speaking. Despite being comfortable in podcasts, group settings, and on panels, the idea of standing live in front of an audience and delivering a speech that is deeply personal and vulnerable was daunting. I was determined to confront this fear.
The journey through the incubator taught me the process of answering typical application questions and provided a framework for building a talk. As a writer and author, I knew what I wanted to say, but I wanted it to have gravitas. They emphasized the importance of a compelling call to action at the end of the talk, focusing on what the audience could take away from my story to enrich their own lives.
For me, the TEDx talk was about confronting a fear, sharing a part of my story to inspire and give hope, and potentially shaping people’s views on life and the world. I often discuss the idea of purpose and encourage individuals to look beyond individual purpose to consider our collective purpose on this planet. It’s important to delve deep within, wrestle with these concepts, and embrace mindset shifts and spirituality. Ultimately, it’s about recognizing the need for all of us to take a deeper pause and reflect.
Now, let’s talk about the how. Can you describe the application process for becoming a TEDx speaker?
There are hundreds of TEDx speaking opportunities available worldwide. It’s important to note the distinction between TED and TEDx. TED is for higher-profile individuals and is by invitation only, while TEDx is organized by local groups around the world. The application process typically involves answering five to eight questions, including a one- or two-minute video synopsis of your talk and suggested titles. Whether it’s TED or TEDx, the focus is on the message or your “idea worth spreading.” In my case, the concept was about the stranger within, or how to “love your inner stranger.”
Clear responses to the application questions, ensuring they serve the community, are crucial. For instance, my TEDx talk was in Raleigh, North Carolina. Initially seeking only local speakers, they were intrigued by my application and accepted it almost immediately. TEDx events typically receive 300+ applications per year but select only a small percentage. In my case, they chose 10 out of 300 applicants.
After applying, the TEDx team conducts an interview or series of interviews. I secured my opportunity after the first interview. It’s essential to understand that your talk doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or revolutionary, but it should prompt people to think differently about themselves and the world they inhabit.
Recognizing my weakness in public speaking, I hired a memorization coach and a speaker coach and practiced extensively, both in-person and virtually. TEDx talks are limited to a specific time frame; mine was 10 minutes. Memorizing your talk is crucial to stay on track and convey a clear and thoughtful message. You only get one chance to deliver your talk, so I made sure I was thoroughly prepared.
So to clarify, is there a website where you can apply for a TEDx talk? How do you apply and submit?
Yes, there’s a straightforward way to find TEDx applications. The cohort I was with had a Google Sheet that they updated weekly, but you can simply Google “TEDx applications” to find many opportunities. You can also check in your local town, city, or state. Each TEDx event typically has its own website where you can submit your application. The application periods vary; some accept rolling applications, while others have a specific timeframe. They often open up to six months prior to the talk.
During COVID, many TEDx talks were virtual. Now, about 90% to 95% are live events. There’s a common misconception that TEDx talks are always live-streamed, but most are just in front of a live audience. For example, I had an audience of over 225 people. These talks are typically filmed live, but if there are issues, such as someone messing up, crying, or experiencing technical difficulties with audio or video, they’ll pause to let you regain your composure.
That’s great. Regarding the Google sheet you mentioned, is there a way for our readers to access it? How can they find out how to apply to different TEDx talks?
Before considering applying for a TEDx talk, it’s crucial to first identify your “idea worth spreading”’ Once you have that, the next step is to research local opportunities. You can Google TEDx events in your town, city, or state to find where you’d like to give a talk. In the incubator, we learned that the industry average is about 85 applications for just one acceptance. In my case, it was my 8th application that got accepted. It’s important to be tenacious because each organizer has a limited number of spots, and persistence can significantly increase your chances. Talks used to be around 18 minutes, but they’ve been shortened to allow more speakers, like the eight-minute talk from someone that I personally know. Mine was 10 minutes in length.
So you’re saying there’s no direct way for our readers to apply?
I gained access to a comprehensive list of TEDx talks through the incubator I joined. Speaker coaches may also send you a list of TEDx opportunities if you join their mailing list, but these lists aren’t exhaustive. The comprehensive list I had was exclusive to the cohort.
So, TED.com doesn’t have a list of these opportunities?
That’s a good question. I didn’t use TED.com for this purpose, but it might actually have a list since TEDx is part of TED.com. That could be a potential option to explore.
Were there any challenges that you faced during the application process? Is there anything you would want to forewarn our readers about?
Even though there were standard application questions, some were quite unique. For instance, some asked why I wanted to give a talk in North Carolina or what my connection to North Carolina was. I had to get creative and spoke about my neighbor who had recently moved there. The questions were about the content of the talk, what the audience should take away, and the origin story of the idea.
What surprised me were questions that tested your writing style, even though it was a talk. Talks differ significantly from written pieces. When I joined the incubator, they gave us exercises that revealed this difference. I remembered being asked if I was a writer on the second Zoom session. The instructors warned that writers often have a harder time because a talk should be conversational. Instead of using four words to explain a product, it’s better to use just one word. For example, say “beautiful” instead of “exquisitely stunning in all its shiny glory.” That aspect of transitioning from writing to speaking was a welcome surprise to me.
Beautiful. Let’s move to the next section about actually preparing the talk. If someone comes to you and says, “I was just selected. How should I prepare for my TEDx talk?” What advice would you give?
The framework I used, which was taught in the incubator, revolves around the origin story. It’s crucial to connect a memorable moment in time with the main content of your talk. Include any relevant research or evidence to support your story. But most importantly, focus on the call to action for the audience. What can the audience take away from your talk?
For my talk, I used an acronym, A.L.O.H.A. (Acknowledgment, Listening, Opening, Harnessing, and Acting) which the audience found memorable and easy to understand and implement. My talk was titled “7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger” and the acronym was a 7-minute method to reconnect with one’s wellness and inner self. Key elements in a talk should include some drama or conflict to illustrate how the experience led to newfound wisdom or understanding. These components make the talk engaging and impactful, leaving a lasting impression.
Do the TEDx organizers generally provide resources to support the speakers?
The TEDx organizer I was with offered two individuals: one who worked for a news organization to fact-check and ensure the data and flow made sense, and another who served as a speaker coach. He didn’t label himself as such, but he had experience in guiding individuals to ensure their talks resonated with the audience. This support was offered for free, although sometimes it’s not.
The cohort I was with also offered practice sessions and virtual calls. We would go on Zoom with other people and give our talk in various time increments, whether it was one minute, five minutes, or even a full 15-minute talk and then receive constructive feedback.
The support you receive during the TEDx application and preparation process depends on the organizer. My organizer, from the very beginning, was drawn towards my “idea worth spreading.” In our initial conversation, she hinted that I was likely to be selected. I received the confirmation email two days later.
When speaking with her, she asked me for potential titles for the talk and what the audience would gain from my talk that others in my field haven’t discussed before. She was a champion for my idea, and there was a real synergy and alignment between us.
In my years in the world, I’ve learned it’s not just about getting in the door, but getting in the right door and making your presence felt to the right people. For me, doing a TEDx talk was more about overcoming a fear than just being a TEDx speaker. I wanted to share my story with an audience in hopes of inspiring others, particularly in cancer survivorship, a topic often shrouded in pain and in my case, shame. This opportunity was a way for me to empower myself and hopefully others.
Can you walk us through the process of writing the scripts? And you mentioned that talking is different from writing. So, how do you start? You start with a blank page. How do you begin?
Well, I started completely wrong, to be honest. Initially, I wrote as if I was crafting a beautifully detailed piece of writing, focusing too much on descriptive words. But what really worked for me was using a voice recorder on my phone, just talking and telling a story. Later, I would have it transcribed and then refine it with written language. If I had started this way, it might have been easier. My script went through 86 revisions, which might seem obsessive, and maybe it is, but that’s just how I am. One of the speaker coaches in my cohort jokingly offered a prize for reaching a hundred revisions, sharing that she herself had done around 105 for her two TEDx talks. My goal wasn’t to reach a high number of revisions. However, when I looked back at all the work I had done just before my talk, I realized I did 86 revisions. This was part of moving away from the mindset of writing versus talking, and also about effectively conveying emotions. The subject I was discussing was heavy — it included cancer survivorship, discovering the stranger within, and themes of vulnerability, shame, and empowerment.
What strategies did you use or would you recommend to ensure that a talk is engaging and impactful?
I think it’s crucial to watch as many TED talks as possible. I kept revisiting the top 25 TED talks, not because I aimed to be in the top 25, although that would be nice, but more to understand what they did right. It’s important to ask yourself questions like: Are you telling a story in a timely manner? Is it impactful? Are you delving too deeply into the details? Are you considering a third-party or overarching perspective? These questions help determine if your story feels real, which is what people are ultimately looking for.
For instance, during my talk, I unexpectedly received a rousing ovation when I mentioned that after four and a half months of conventional and non-conventional treatments, my oncologist told me I was in remission. I didn’t expect this reaction because during rehearsals, it was just me and my coach, without an audience. You need to be prepared for how you want to convey your message, the emotions you want to evoke, and to stay true to yourself in your story. The key is to simplify yet add depth to your narrative. The best way I found was to watch successful TED talks and learn from them.
That’s amazing. I know some speakers use visual aids or slideshows. How does a person decide if they should use visual aids or not?
So, I actually know someone who works for TED, and he shared with me a few tips, including the use of visual aids. For my TEDx talk, another speaker used a visual aid, but it was just a small computer monitor, not projected behind him. I had to consider whether I needed a visual aid or if it was a distraction. I decided against using it because I didn’t really need it. The organizers did offer to provide a few words or prompts to the speakers in the audience if needed, but I chose not to use that either. My strength lies in remembering what I have to say, and my training in memorization techniques came in handy.
When it comes to giving a TEDx talk, there are two schools of thought. One is to know the areas you want to cover and take a risk. The other is to rehearse thoroughly, embody the words, and memorize them, allowing you to deliver the talk with finesse and impact. I chose the latter, which is what most people recommend. A TEDx talk is time-bound, so you can’t just speak off the cuff.
What really helped me was using a red carpeted dot when I rehearsed at home, similar to the one used in TEDx talks. I bought one and rehearsed with it in different locations to stay within its confines. Another technique I used is called the memory palace, where you assign different parts of your talk to specific places in your life. Whenever you visit that place physically, you recite that part of the talk. This method helps with the flow of your talk. Additionally, I recorded my talk and listened to it repeatedly, even while sleeping. These strategies helped me deliver my talk, which is now available for people to see.
So, what you’re describing sounds very time-intensive. How did you balance preparing the talk with your other responsibilities?
I’m a coach, I write articles, I interview people, and I cover LIVE events. However, the TEDx talk was particularly important for me. My personality type, which served me well during my cancer survivorship, allows me to focus on a goal like a laser beam. When I’m focused, I’m sharp with what I want to convey and do. So, I made time for it every day — rehearsing, renting out rooms in libraries, and meeting with my speaker coach once a week. I rehearsed on my own and tried various tactics. It comes down to dedication, overcoming self-limiting beliefs, mindset blocks, and facing your fears. My main fear was not delivering the message properly in the way I intended. I kept my eye on the prize, focusing on ensuring the message was conveyed well. It’s all about the message, not just how it’s delivered. Staying centered on that aspect of delivering the message in the right way is key to doing the best job with this opportunity. Plus, when given an opportunity, I try to make the most of it and run with it.
There’s a saying, from Mark Twain, about how it takes more time to prepare for a five-minute talk than for a two-hour talk. The point is that crystallizing an idea and using the exact words is much more difficult than a freeform talk. So, how does a person do that? How does a person boil down an idea into five minutes?
We were taught to use a specific framework when memorizing the sections of a talk. There were about seven arcs for the talk structure itself. The key is to ensure that each segment is insightful, not just filled with information. As my speaker coach would say, ‘What’s the throughline?’ For example, I used a statistic but coupled it with how it integrated into my life. Brevity is an asset, and what’s memorable is when people can quickly latch onto something rather than being overwhelmed with information. The goal is to be original and avoid repetition. Creating a laser-focused idea is vital. For instance, my talk was about finding seven minutes to wellness and how to “love your inner stranger.” I consistently emphasized these themes and used both vulnerability and empowerment in a novel way. That’s the secret sauce.
Every person, most of us can think of maybe half a dozen different topics that they could speak about. How does a person choose, okay, this is the one for a TED talk. How do they choose which of all their ideas should be the one?
The first step is to do a brain dump. Write down everything on a piece of paper — how you feel about each topic and the kind of stories you want to share. Then, narrow it down. When I started my talk, I was told I had three talks within one. They said, “No, this won’t work. You need a throughline.” This could be two other TEDx talks. So, the key is to simplify it, make it granular, like you’re explaining something to a three-year-old. Three-year-olds only have a basic understanding of life, and that’s crucial. Secondly, it should mean something to you. The idea of ‘how to love your inner stranger’ and ‘finding the stranger within’ resonated deeply with me. It was true in my life, both as a cancer patient and then as a survivor. I felt this idea was not only important to me but would also mean something to others. That’s the key.
So, I guess let’s now shift to the next stage. Let’s talk about the actual delivery of an excellent TEDx Talk. Most people are scared of talking in public. How did you manage the nerves of stage fright before the talk?
Managing the nerves was a mix of sheer will and desire, coupled with relying on my training. One of my speaker coaches, who is also an actor, emphasized the importance of training. He advised that if you mess up, pause, look at someone, and return to your training. Remember your memory palace, the visual element of where you are in the story. I recall during my talk, the second or third speaker after me stumbled, and from the front seat, I helped her refocus by asking where she was visually in her story. She regained her composure and continued.
Believing in yourself and having confidence is also essential. I achieve this through meditation, which I’ve been practicing for over 20 years, 20 minutes a day. I also use affirmative statements daily. Visualization is another tool I find useful — envisioning myself delivering the talk well and conveying something meaningful that could positively impact others. That’s, after all, why we give talks: to share knowledge that can make a difference.
To calm my nerves, I also exercised regularly, five days a week, engaging in strength training, spinning, and boxing. This physical activity helped me embody my words and use it as fuel for my talk. A talk is not just about what you say but how you say it and the energy you transmit to the audience. I envisioned myself as a large tree firmly rooted on stage, extending my branches to the audience — a symbiotic flow between us. I did my best to harness and convey that energy.
In your experience, what were the moments just before you stepped onto the stage like? What did it look like?
I was selected to be the first person to give my talk. When I stepped on stage, everyone’s focus immediately shifted to me. It could have been because I was the first one. However, I recall that, after the first minute, there was an audio issue. They stopped and readjusted the mic. When I went back on stage, after two minutes, another mic issue occurred. The third time I went on stage, there were no mic issues, and I delivered the best talk I could. After all the talks were delivered, someone said to me it was like watching a baseball game. For him, it was like strike one, not your fault; strike two, not your fault; and then on the third attempt, you hit a home run! Someone else also stated that those mic issues and how I handled myself with grace and professionalism in not getting frustrated or frazzled impressed her. She stated that I exemplified the ingredients of resilience and bouncing back before my talk was even given. My response to her was, “I’m a New Yorker… I’ve been through 9/11, COVID, I’m a cancer survivor” I’d redo it 20 more times if I had to.
For me, I remember uttering words that hold deep meaning to me, part of my history and experience, and seeing their mouths open. I didn’t realize they were that enthralled or intrigued by what I had to say, that they were that invested. And I think that’s the key. You have to trust that the audience is invested in your story. It’s not just your story; it’s a story that can help them. So, they’re invested in listening to it and wanting to know. There were over 225 people in the audience. That, in itself, is a reason to get yourself grounded. The red carpet helped me because I felt the furry texture of the carpet beneath my shoes. Get yourself grounded, go back to your training, know the words, know where you are in your story, and also feed off the energy. I tried to balance my nerves and fear of public speaking, which is hard to do. But I invite everyone to do this if it’s something that calls to you.
What techniques did you use to engage the audience during your talk to grab their attention?
I was taught a couple of things. One is to utilize the expanse of the energy that’s drawn to you. Basically, look people in the eye. There are different schools of thought. One is to look everyone in the eye or dart back and forth, which can seem confusing. The approach I used was to look at someone, linger for two to three seconds, then move on to the next person. You don’t have to be like a ping pong ball, going back and forth rapidly. I strategically went from inner to outer, outer to inner, left, right, up, and down.
The second technique is about rooting yourself, grounding yourself in the moment. This means being present but not letting your nerves or emotions overpower what your training, rehearsals, or memorization have taught you.
Number three is emoting in a way that draws people to you. In my talk, there was a part where I reflected on a piece of wisdom with such force. I didn’t rehearse it that way; it just felt right, so I trusted my instinct. Another part involved skipping a sentence I knew I missed, again trusting my intuition and the moment.
Another key element is dealing with distractions. Knowing people in the audience is great, but sometimes they can disrupt your flow. The key is to stay completely present. Also, being aware of your surroundings is crucial. I had a mic that had failed me twice before, so I was conscious not to make excessive movements.
Lastly, using different intonations and pitches, highs and lows, but in a way that feels natural and not overly forced, is vital.
So, you mentioned the snafus that popped up, and I’m sure it happens all the time. Not necessarily this particular one, but things that are similar. And you handled it with grace and resilience. What can a person do to prepare for the inevitable unexpected occurrences? How could a person prepare for that?
After the talk, all the speakers were invited to a local Greek restaurant. The organizer, the speaker coach, and a third person from their team mentioned to me that they had a feeling I should go first to set the tone. I knew that was a huge responsibility and didn’t take it lightly. After my talk, each of them said they trusted their intuition and that I was the perfect choice. They appreciated how I handled it without letting it faze me, saying it was done with composure and poise. That meant a lot to me because I came to do something well and show up to the best of my ability.
They also shared that last year, out of ten individuals, four couldn’t get through the talk for various reasons. They were allowed to give the talk later with no audience, but only one of them could complete it. The other three didn’t. Knowing this after the incident reinforced for me the importance of showing up with intention, gratitude, the right energy, and the right purpose.
In hindsight, I feel I needed those two audio snafus. It might sound a bit woo-woo, but I believe it helped bolster my ‘New York energy,’ as I call it, to get it done the way I wanted. Either way, it worked out. I’m happy with what I did on stage. My goal now is to reach as many people as possible to help inform and delight them.
So you’ve talked about how to engage your audience, how to deliver it properly. What can a person do to ensure that people will remember the talk? People, it won’t just go in one ear and out the other, but it will stick.
In my talk, I shared a story from my college days when someone made fun of me. I didn’t realize back in college that it set the stage for how I handled my cancer survivorship. Recalling a funny story from my past immediately grabbed the attention of the audience. I think this piggybacks on what I do for a living, which is wellness coaching. The more truthful you are with yourself and with your experiences, the more it resonates with the universal truth we all share as humans on this planet during this time. The key is to share stories, memories, or learnings that mean something to you. It’s not just education, but education with a purpose. It’s about giving people momentum in their lives, helping them see through difficulties, find clarity, and gain optimism. Also, it’s really about connecting with your audience. So, delve into your memory bank, choose what you want to talk about, find connections, and weave it in a way that’s not just a great piece of writing. It should emote and create a reality for people that they can latch onto, hold close to their heart. That is what makes a great talk.
What should a person consider when they decide how they should dress for a talk? Should they be dressing casual, professional, or maybe something more classy, like for a ball?
We were advised to dress as comfortably as possible, but not too casual. I chose to do something I typically don’t do, as I’m not usually the type to dress up in a suit. My job doesn’t require it either. I don’t mind going to formal events, but that’s not my everyday attire. So, for this occasion, I decided to look very formal. I wore a sports jacket, slacks, and a black shirt. It was important for me to feel powerful and confident and to look well put-together. When deciding how to dress for your talk, you have to figure out what message you want to convey. In my case, since I was talking about a challenging topic like cancer, I wanted to present myself as victorious in that struggle. I aimed to convey not just a sense of power but also to radiate success, vitality, and prosperity. That’s why I chose that particular outfit.
So that segues nicely into my next question. I noticed that in some TEDx Talk, speakers smile a lot, while others use hand gestures. What should your body language be like when you’re speaking?
One of my speaker coaches, Wolfe Lanier, taught me that as long as it’s a conscious decision, it’s up to you. If you’re just nervously doing it, then you’re not being mindful of your actions. But if you choose to do it, that’s entirely your decision. For instance, whether you’re pacing back and forth, using your hands, or holding them in a triangle form in front of your body, it’s your choice. I emphasize certain words, especially towards the end of my story. However, it wouldn’t make sense for me to smile while talking about lying in a hospital bed, being told by 19 oncologists that I had stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I need to recreate that moment for the audience. So, I ensured that my body language and facial expressions conveyed a sense of conflict that matched the energy of what I was saying. My gestures needed to be true to the story I was telling.
You were fortunate to be the first speaker, so you didn’t have to deal with this issue, but let’s say you’re the tenth speaker and you’re worried everyone is tired of speeches and might be bored. How do you overcome that and make sure they stay engaged?
I decided to listen to every talk after mine because I wanted to support the other speakers, having known what it’s like to be first. We, the speakers, were seated in the first row in front of the stage. The key is to quickly read the audience and understand where the energy is. In your speech, you might need to vary your tone, use louder or softer voices, or add more movement than originally planned. It’s important to ensure the audience understands you, to jolt them awake if they seem sleepy or distracted. This can be achieved through smiling, gestures, or pacing. But really, it’s crucial to know your audience and read them quickly.
In my research, I found that comedians are often considered the best public speakers because they read the audience well, know when to pause, and are adept at creating conflict and engagement. So, learning their techniques, how they speak, what they say, and how they use facial gestures to convey a point is vital. Using intentional, prolonged pauses can create excitement, a rift, or even puzzlement. It’s all about engaging the audience and keeping their attention.
You mentioned comedians. Should a person try to incorporate humor into their talk?
If your talk involves elements of comedy, absolutely look at comedians. Observe how they craft their art. They’re not on stage by accident. While some may be naturally gifted, most have also trained and learned how to use the audience to their advantage, serving as a conduit for laughter.
I’ve seen suggestions that a person should start a talk, not necessarily a TEDx talk, but in general, with something that grabs the audience’s attention from the first sentence. This could be a compelling or controversial question, or starting with a story right at the beginning. Does this approach make sense for a TEDx talk?
Yes, absolutely. I began my talk with a probing question, but it’s crucial to remember, as we were taught in the incubator, that the question shouldn’t be overly insightful or complex. You don’t want the audience to pause too long, diverting their attention from the rest of your talk or encouraging introspection instead of engagement. Although my initial question carried some weight, I presented it in a tongue-in-cheek manner, using facial expressions and intonation. The goal is to captivate your audience with a question or statement that draws them away from their own thoughts without lingering too much or causing distraction.
How can our readers watch your TEDx talk and follow your work?
Your readers can watch my TEDx talk, “7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger ‘’ on YouTube. It’s a concise yet powerful introduction to my work on building resilience and transforming adversity. For your readers who seek deeper exploration, my speaker website, saviopclemente.com, offers insights into my speaking engagements and keynote topics. And for daily inspiration, they can connect with me on social media @thehumanresolve
Thanks so much for your time, Savio. I’m very blessed that you could share your wisdom, and we’re excited to share this with our readers.
I really appreciate the opportunity. As I like to say, if we don’t tell our stories, then who will? Sharing our experiences not only connects us but also helps inspire and support others on their journey, TEDx or not.
TEDx Talking: Best Selling Author Savio P Clemente On What You Need To Know To Secure, Prepare, and was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.