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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  May 04, 2017

How to Take Advantage of a Missed Opportunity

How to Take Advantage of a Missed Opportunity

Whew! As expected, it was a wild week at this year’s TED Conference. So many lessons—watch for my top 10 posts coming up.

One of the biggest moments was Gayle King’s interview with Serena Williams. Highly anticipated, this was hers to lose. And … it was typical celebrity interview. No big ideas worth sharing. The audience was disappointed in the questions but didn’t show it.

Until the last session on Friday when 15 TED’sters gave their one-minute talk on what they liked, didn’t like, etc. One person made her case about the thing we all thought but didn’t say: The interview with Ms. Williams was too fluffy. The questions asked didn’t go deep enough. It was an “opportunity lost.” The TED crowd went wild. Standing ovation and a demand to hear more.


Listen: How to call something out without sounding like a jerk


The big aha here is two-fold:

First, Ms. King broke the first rule of public speaking: Know your audience. She stuck with what she is good at (human interest) instead of asking more substantive questions.

But second—when you say what everyone else is thinking, the flash of recognition (and relief) makes you stand out. The message here: You are not alone. I was thinking the same thing.

And that’s how you go from being an invisible attendee to an instant hit at a TED Conference.


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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.