TED Talk advice

Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk: What You Can Learn

Jamie Oliver's TED Talk: What You Can LearnJamie Oliver’s TED talk saw one of the world’s best-loved TV chefs shares powerful stories from his anti-obesity project.  The famous British TV chef and food campaigner makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.  I thought it would be useful to use his talk as a reference point for TED talk advice—what worked, and what I felt did not.

By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak

What works for me in Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk?

1. His Passion & Energy

God is he passionate about his subject matter.  He’s got energy  in bucket loads – in his language, delivery and stage presence.

2. He is Natural & Honest

What you see is what you get – like him or not.    No airs, No graces.  No changing who he is for a foreign audience – perhaps it’s his celebrity status though.

3. Both Oliver’s Message and Its Delivery Are Filled With Simplicity

He’s got a powerful message, delivered with simplicity.  His language, and story telling makes it simply powerful.

4. He Makes a Deep Connection with His Audience

Through use of story, analogy, personal experience – he’s got the audience in the palm of his hands.

5. The Q-Card Debate

I get asked regularly in training about the use of cue-cards. People think they are unprofessional, and that it looks like you’re not very confident in either your message or your ability to deliver it.

Well he’s got them, just in case he loses concentration, and it doesn’t detract from the talk at all.

Better to have them, than lose track.

6. He Offers a Little Shock Factor

Plenty of relevant shocking facts, personal stories, and statistics – keeping everyone thinking and on their toes.

7. He Uses Props & Visual Aids Effectively

Very effective use of video footage throughout – gives the audience a break from him and his regular rants!  The video footage of Jamie in the school asking kids what he was holding (a potato) – and they didn’t know!

The prop used to demonstrate sugar was great,  a wheel barrow full of sugar poured on stage! brave, and effective.

8. Clap trap

The skill to ensure the audience claps at certain times throughout—Jamie has it mastered.

This takes skill to pull it off naturally. It needs clever vocal delivery—pace, suspensive pause and inflection—but he did well on this note.

9. Finishing With a Clear Call to Action

Jamie finishes his talk with a very clear call to action.

Notice how he slows everything down, and the very clear silence before he delivers the call to action—it’s very effective. There is absolutely no getting away from what he wants the audience to do.

What doesn’t work for me in Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk?

1. He’s a Moving Target

I didn’t like the way he paced the floor throughout,  I find it distracting.  I always believe put the energy into your vocal delivery, and move only for a reason and with purpose.

2. He Talks at his Audience, Not to Them

Well I always say don’t talk at your audience, talk too them – well he seems to break the rule – he certainly talks at them and is regularly lecturish, but he gets away with it, simply because he’s message is so thought provoking, and maybe he gets away with it because he brings in one-lines throughout, and maybe simply because of his celebrity status!

3. PowerPoint

If he was going to use PowerPoint slides, he could have used cooler, more engaging graphics. Instead, the visuals and slides he used on-screen did little to serve his message or delivery.


So the question is: could anyone learn from Jamie Oliver’s TED talk, and do what he did in front of a large live audience?

Well if you’re passionate enough about a topic, if you believe in your message and you’re willing to put in the work, absolutely you can.

We hope this breakdown of Jamie Oliver’s TED talk offers you some useful advice for your own delivery in your professional presentations or public speaking engagements.

Now off you go and get on the stage!

Here’s Jamie Oliver’s TED talk in full

It’s 20 minutes and it’s a powerful message.

About ConfidentSpeak

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Email: info@confidentspeak.com

ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of  corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.


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