Why Some TED Talks Get Millions of Views – Part 2

February 12, 2016.
New Study:
Why Some TED Talks Get Millions of Views, Others Very Few
Part 2

(Part 1 of this article appeared last week, February 5)

Why some TED talks (at TED.com) get millions of views was the question Vanessa van Edwards, body language trainer and founder of ScienceofPeople.com, set out to investigate in a study published in March 2015 by Huffington Post.

A 4-minute video summary of the study by Vanessa van Edwards can be found by clicking the YouTube image below.

The study, in which 760 people participated and rated a number of selected TED speakers on various criteria, resulted in 5 key findings:

1. It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It
Different groups of survey participants were asked to rate the TED speakers with and without sound—and found that there was no difference in ratings between people who watched talks on mute and people who watched talks with sound.

Bottom Line: Focus on your nonverbal just as much as your verbal.

2. More Hand Gestures Make for a More Successful Talk
Following up the finding above, the researchers looked for specific nonverbal patterns that the most viewed TED talks had that were different from the least viewed TED talks. This revealed the more hand gestures, the more successful the talk. There was a direct correlation between the number of views on a TED talk and the number of hand gestures.

Speakers who use hand gestures are speaking to their audience on 2 levels-verbally and nonverbally.

Bottom Line: To be a good speaker, let your hands do the talking.

3. Scripts Kill Your Charisma
Nonverbal communication isn’t just about body language, it is also about your voice dynamics. The study found that the more vocal variety a speaker had, the more views their talks had. And vocal variety increased the speaker’s charisma and credibility ratings. One way to improve vocal variety is by telling stories and avoid using and reading from a script.

Bottom Line: Memorized lines and scripts kill your memorability.

4. Smiling Makes You Look Smarter
This finding was somewhat of a surprise to the researchers. The research found that the longer a TED speaker smiled, the higher their perceived intelligence ratings were. Those who smiled for at least 14 seconds were rated as higher in intelligence than those who smiled for less.

Bottom Line: No matter how serious your topic, find something to smile about.

5. You Have 7 Seconds

As we also mentioned in Part 1, this study was in line with previous research by Stanford Professor Nalini Ambady which showed that people decide within 7 seconds whether or not they like someone—known as ‘thin slice judgements’. This typically happens even before words have been exchanged. So how you open your presentation can have a big impact on how people judge and perceive you.

Bottom Line: Make a grand entrance.

Trond Varlid

Full Huffington Post Article: click here

Web site of Vanessa van Edwards:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.