TED Talks Taught Me

By:Meredith Erikson

ted talks
Source: ted.com

As Public Relations professionals (or aspiring ones), we are strategic communicators. Whether it’s during school, my job, or just talking with friends, I can’t help but to analyze the way we communicate for ourselves and with one another. When I started my first job at a restaurant I refused to take the position of a server. Being only 18, I didn’t think I could handle talking to all the types of people I knew I’d have to encounter. I pleaded for the job of the hostess because I assumed conversing with customers would be minimal. I was completely wrong. I didn’t know I wasn’t going to have the job of a traditional, let me just take you to your table, hostess. I was there to help the servers, take to-go orders, and most of all communicate with the customers. Unexpectedly, after several months of working there I began to realize how thankful I was to have the opportunity to work somewhere that forced me to improve how I communicate. When I moved to Denton I had a chance to be a server, which necessitated effectual and convincing communication. I can now say I enjoy that I’m challenged to practice talking to new people every day.

Communication is not only so crucial in Public Relations but in our everyday lives. I find it fascinating and I constantly want to know how I can improve the way I converse even more. I decided to reference my shameless love for Netflix and thought of an entertaining way to learn about enhancing my communications skills. After being introduced to TED Talks by a friend, I began watching them on my own and tried my best to apply their tips and ideas to my life. TED Talks always pleases my curiosity and are taught in a way that’s easily understandable. Luckily for me PR News already had a list of their favorite talks they believed catered to PR professionals. One that stood out to me was called “5 ways to listen better” by Julian Treasure. In order to communicate effectively you first have to know how to really listen. Treasure defines listening as making meaning from sound. He claims that we spend 60 percent of our communication time listening but we only retain 25 percent of what we hear. It’s important that we improve our listening so as a result we can improve the way we convey ourselves to the world and also to one another. He says most of us unconsciously listen yet the only way we can create understanding is through conscious listening.

His first tip on how to consciously listen was to allow silence in your life, for at least three minutes a day. This can be more difficult to some than it sounds. There’s so much noise both visually and auditorily that it’s hard to have everything be still for a moment. Especially with social media, for me it’d be hard to resist the temptation of checking my updates. His second step of advice was called the mixer; to see how many individual sounds you can hear at one time. This is designed to improve the quality of your listening. His third idea was called savoring. By this he means to enjoy mundane sounds. We often ignore anything we find to be bland but we can really start to understand if we begin listening to what we normally don’t pay attention to. His next and most important suggestion was about listening positions. The idea of moving your listening position to what’s appropriate. For example, from active to passive. Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused but with practice it’s possible. His last tip happened to be the acronym RASA, which stood for receive, appreciate, summarize and ask. We have to analyze our communication. If we can improve listening, Treasure believes we can improve connection and understanding. I absolutely agree with him and plan to take his advice and utilize it with my Public Relations abilities.

There are many more TED Talks that can help with communication, leadership or almost anything you want to know about so check them out!



Works Cited:

Greene, B. (2104, September 9). 6 Best TED Talks for Communicators. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/2014/09/19/6-best-ted-talks-for-communicators


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