Andrew StantonI wrote last week about how speakers need to move deeper into authenticity to achieve intimacy with their audiences.  I see this new demand as part of the increasingly blurred working and home world that our always-on, Twitter and Facebook-saturated culture brings.

The question is, how do you create intimacy?  I think you have to reveal a little bit of yourself, your real self, to the audience.  You get to choose which part, but you have to be able to connect to it authentically, so it’s best if it’s not made up.

And it has to be related to your topic, of course.  It can’t be gratuitous revelation; you can’t assume that the audience will be interested just because you’re standing in front of it.

TED talks have learned this need, and the best ones supply a bit of the speaker’s personal journey and a dose of their expertise, and we feel like we’re privileged to see into the world of someone remarkable.

That’s when it works well.  A good example of getting the balance right is Andrew Stanton’s compelling TED talk on storytelling, the movie business, and a certain man he met in a bar.  WARNING:  there’s a very vulgar phrase in this talk.  Do not watch with your pre-teen.

By sharing a little of his own journey to understanding great storytelling, Andrew not only teaches us something about that essential art, but he also makes us feel an intimate connection with him.  Enjoy!

Stanton TED talk


  1. Nick, I agree wholeheartedly with you.

    I think speakers can and should reveal something of themselves by speaking FROM their experience, values, wisdom, passion, etc. And they can create intimacy, when appropriate, by speaking ABOUT their experiences (e.g. by telling a personal story). It takes some wisdom to know when and how to share such experiences, to avoid making them gratuitous, as you say, self-serving, or overly-revealing.

    1. Thanks, Christopher, for your comments and support. As you say, the key is knowing what to share — and that takes wisdom indeed.

  2. Nick,

    Today I tried your suggestion. I added a short vignette about my wife’s cancer battle and how it affected me emotionally, in a startling but unpredictable way… The rest of my 25 minute lunchtime fundraising presentation was what I had been saying weekly at civic / fraternal organizations, for months. Not only did the new few minutes grab their attention as I shared my emotional secret, many of the members cried. Later, they hugged me on the way out of their luncheon event. Also, the donations to the 501(c)3 charity today were 25% higher than I would have predicted.

    Asking for donations during breakfast and lunchtime meetings is very difficult. However, today was the first time I have been invited back to speak to any one of these groups entire lodge.

    Thank You Nick. You made a big difference today!

  3. I’m really benefiting from your coverage on this concept, Nick. The TED Talk that came to mind for me regarding intimacy is Susan Cain’s talk about her book Quiet. I felt like she connects in a unique way in the talk–that we somehow know her.

    An improving speaker because of you,


    1. Andy, thanks for your comment — and I love the Susan Caine TED talk. You’re right; she creates intimacy with real thoughtfulness and honesty. A great example.

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