4 TEDX Videos to Boost Your Communication Skills

If you’ve not heard of TED talks before then you’re missing out.

The talks are short – usually less than 18 minutes – informed education talks that began in 1984 as a conference “where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged.” Now, they are hugely popular and cover literally all manner of topics, in over 100 languages around the globe. Today we'd like to focus in on our favourite Ted talks that will help you become a better communicator.

Beyond the mere capability to understand and reproduce languages lies a universal set of skills that we labeled "communication". Whether you are talking to a potential customer, negotiating a raise with your boss, or in an argument with your spouse, your communication skills are a hugely important factor in your success. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the best Ted talks on communication.

Renny Gleeson’s 404, the story of a page not found

This simple and short – at 4 minutes 7 seconds – TED talk is a great example of how you can use little things to build your brand and more effectively communicate with your users. We all make mistakes and times and your website no doubt has had its fair share of bugs. Broken links are as Gleeson points out, something akin to hitting a wall – we can’t find what we’re looking for and can essentially go no further.

In his talk, Gleeson initially considers the 404 page before going on to describe how 404 pages changed when a site created a page with an embedded sports video featuring a cyclist crashing. This, he said, was how people felt when they reached a 404 page. Since then 404 pages have become more creative, and are often humorous – as illustrated by the Geek Squad page below.

But what does all of this have to do with eCommerce and customer communication? Well, what Gleeson is trying to highlight is not how 404 pages have evolved, but how with a little creative thinking you can turn a negative into a positive. As humans we love to come across things online that appeal to our emotions and the best kind are those that make us happy – which humor does, of course.

With this in mind, when considering how you communicate with customers when something has gone wrong, do apologize but also consider how you can turn the experience around so that the customer comes away feeling that in the end, it was a positive one.

Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better

“Conscious listening creates understanding.”

Clearly, listening is an important skill for a customer service rep to have. But the noise of the modern world and the different ways in which we communicate has meant that it’s not as easy – or natural – for us to listen anymore. Julian’s talk discusses this and points out that we are naturally setup to listen for intention but that in the modern world, it’s harder to pay attention to quiet.

He offers 5 tools and exercises in the talk to help you to learn to listen better. He sets out a pattern too that should be followed to help you to learn to listen, which are:

R eceive

A ppreciate

S ummarise

A sk

As you can see, I’ve highlighted the first letter of each word, which Julian uses in the talk as RASA , meaning juice or essence. For the customer service rep, this should be stuck to your monitor. First you listen to receive the information the customer is giving you fully, then you appreciate what they are saying, and you confirm this will the use of verbal cues (yes, OK, uh huh) to ensure the customer knows that you’re listening. You then summarise what they have been telling you before going on to ask for further details and/or confirmation.

This is a great exercise and one that can really teach you to listen to the customer and what they have to say – a vital skill for successful customer service professionals.

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

There’s little doubt that as a customer service professional, your job can be stressful. This is especially the case when it comes to dealing with complaints and irate customers. Kelly McGonigal’s talk aims to help you to deal with that stress in order to help you to better relate and to look after your long-term health.

When you’re stressed things happen to your body, your heart pounds, your palms sweat, you might shake with the extra adrenaline that’s being pumped around your system. However, you can trick your body into believing that this is a good thing, which causes symptoms to lessen and your body to react in a healthier way. As a part of the stress response we also release oxytocin, which helps us to empathise with others – a very important part of any customer service rep’s job. However, oxytocin is a stress hormone and is as responsible for that rapidly beating heart as adrenaline is, according to McGonigal, a psychiatrist. Oxytocin however, works to protect your system from the effects of stress and helps your blood vessels to remain relaxed and heart cells to regenerate to further counter the effects of stress.

This means that when you reach out to others for support you release more of the hormone and your stress responses in turn become healthier. According to McGonigal, it’s “how you choose to connect with others under stress” that can help you to create resilience against it. This means listening to others too and rather than reacting with stress and allowing your body to take control, by understanding your body’s response and taking back control, you can more fully empathise with the customer and connect better with them and their needs.

So not only can learning to manage stress make you happier and healthier, but it can have a positive impact on your job and how you relate to customers and colleagues.

Seth Godin: The Tribes We Lead

In this powerful and now famous TED talk, Seth Godin talks about how the internet has helped to end mass marketing, which essentially didn’t need any complex or exciting ideas to work, and revived the human social element that could be found in tribes hundreds of thousands of years ago. Tribes, Godin says, give ordinary people the opportunity and power to lead and to make enormous changes.

Godin says that we all find something worth changing and then put together tribes that themselves then go on to put together their own tribes in order to perpetuate that initial idea. We all do this for a living now, he says, and what we essentially do is create things and ideas that are far bigger than ourselves to become a movement.

We all, potentially, have the power to change the world.

He asks three simple questions to help to challenge you to think more deeply about creating a movement and leadership. The first poses the question “who exactly are you upsetting” before pointing out that if “you’re not upsetting anyone, you’re not changing the status quo.”

The second question asks “who are you connecting?” And goes on to say that “for a lot of people that’s what they’re in it for: the connections that are being made, one to the other.” It’s the who, he says, as well as the leading that brings about change.

Whilst I wouldn’t recommend that you apply the idea of upsetting people to the customer service environment, this talk is a must for business owners and managers, as well as being useful to the customer service rep. It talks about how the world is now. Businesses don’t particularly like change and often, the corporate wheels turn far too slowly for effective change to come about. By understanding just how much the world has changed, you can go on to further get to grips with how those changes can help to bring about a better, more profitable and even happier workplace.

Innnovative Thinking

TED talks have become incredibly popular around the globe for good reason: the sharing of innovative ideas that can help bring about change across numerous industries and education. The internet has ensured that we can share such ideas now quickly and easily and if you want to be the very best that you can in business, whether you work for yourself or somebody else, then they’re an excellent educational resource that I would suggest that you make full use of.

There’s hundreds, if not thousands of talks out there on a myriad of subjects, so I would suggest that you begin with the examples above to get you started and then get searching for those that are most relevant to you as a person and to the job that you do and the people that it brings you into contact with.