Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ted Tuesday: Diana Nyad- "Never Give Up"

"Everyday of our lives is epic....Never ever give up...You can chase your dreams at any age...It looks like the most solitary endeavor in the world and in many ways it is, and in other ways and the most important ways it's a team...When you achieve your dreams, it is not so much what you get, but who you have become..."

Good Morning Folks.

A record-setting long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad writes and thinks deeply about motivation. If you have a dream, and you have obstacles in front of you, believe in perseverance and find a way!

In the pitch-black night, stung by jellyfish, choking on salt water, singing to herself, hallucinating … Diana Nyad just kept on swimming. And that's how she finally achieved her lifetime goal as an athlete: an extreme 100-mile swim from Cuba to Florida — at age 64. Hear her story.

For ten years (1969-1979), Diana Nyad was known as the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world. In 1979, she stroked the then-longest swim in history, making the 102.5-mile journey from the island of Bimini (Bahamas) to Florida. She also broke numerous world records, including what had been a 50-year mark for circling Manhattan Island, setting the new time of 7 hrs 57 min. She is a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

At age 60, having not swum a stroke in decades, she began planning for her white whale of distance swims: the 110-mile ocean crossing between Cuba and Florida. She'd tried it once, in her 20s, and severe jellyfish attacks had defeated her then. But now, with a strong team and a new commitment to her vision, she stepped back into the salt. She spoke about this second attempt at TEDMED 2011. And at TEDWomen 2013, in December, she talks about how it feels to have finally done it.

“It's the fifth time I stand on this shore, the Cuban shore, looking out at that distant horizon, believing, again, that I'm going to make it all the way across that vast, dangerous wilderness of an ocean. Not only have I tried four times, but the greatest swimmers in the world have been trying since 1950, and it's still never been done.”

Within the first few seconds, and with these few words, Diana Nyad has painted a picture and set a mood about her challenge; to swim from Cuba to Florida. She has also established herself as someone you want to listen to, to trust that she is telling the truth, and to find out what happened. What a powerful start.
Motivation aside, so what can you learn and apply about presentations from Diana Nyad’s TED talk?

==> Show passion.
You can instantly hear the passion in Diane’s voice. As you listen, look away from the screen and just listen for a few moments. You can clearly hear the passion in her cadence, and in her vocal inflections. Notice that she is telling you a story, not reciting a stream of facts or numbers. You hear how meaningful and emotional this journey was. Now think of your own presentations; are you focused on the story, the meaning, or the facts and figures? What would happen if you let a little more passion into these talks?

==> Make it real.
Did you see the sharks? Did you feel the frigid water and experience the solitude of the pitch dark? Did you hear her singing John Lennon's "Imagine" – 200 times? These are not mere details. This is the concrete description that makes her story so tangible. You can't fake this, at least most of us can't. What you can do is go to that place where what you are talking about is real and immediate, and then describe what you are seeing and feeling. (If this is difficult for you, contact me about learning the skills of being in the moment and completely focused.)

==> It's not about your slides.
Did you miss seeing bullet points, charts and graphs, or photos? I don't think you did. In fact, I didn't notice until the end that there nothing but Diana and the world she created verbally. Slides would have been so distracting and even irritating as you wanted to hear this story from her lips. Now, if you don’t want to go completely without slides, at least try to cut back and see what happens. Then cut back some more. Use fewer slides, and put less and less on each one. Or start and end you next talk without slides, using them only as needed.

==> Keep it short.
This talk is about fifteen minutes. She could surely have talked for an hour, or many hours, but she told her story in a compelling way in a fairly short timeframe. Your audience is probably too polite to tell you, but they wish you would be a little more concise. Take out unnecessary "padding." Strip the story down to its basics. Tell enough to make your point. Then end it well.

Make it into a story. Note that Diana takes you from standing on the shore ready to set forth at the beginning, and ends with the crowd cheering and her speaking with reporters at the end. This is classic story style. As a bonus, she added three big takeaways as the final thoughts. Use storytelling structure to make your talks more memorable. And make sure you don't blow off your beginning and endings; these are key targets you must hit.

Take a few pointers from Diana Nyad. Never ever give up. Keep working to make your presentations, speeches and informal talks more concise, compelling and genuine. And, once you get to, look around. There are many speeches you can learn from, and I will be continuing to write about the ones I think have lessons for us all.

Thanks to Applause Inc for leading me to this which delivered it to you.

Thanks to you for listening.

Have a GREAT Day,

Mitchell D. Weiner
Chief Happiness Officer

Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TED Tuesdays on highlights some of today's most intriguing ideas. Look for more talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more— HERE.  

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