Helping Audiences Engage with Intent – Jon Yeo

Helping Audiences Engage with Intent – Jon Yeo

We are often too busy to consider the impact of our work with each other.  

In a world of 24/7 connectivity, it is somehow hard to find the time to just get our immediate work done. But by altering our focus in our everyday communications, we can increase our productivity work towards intentional outcomes with clients and colleagues.

In this episode I speak with Licensee and Head of Curation of Tedx Melbourne and Communication Coach, Jon Yeo about how we can help our audiences engage with intent.

To find out more about Jon, visit 

To find out more about TED and Tedx, visit


Donna Hanson: In this Expert Insights episode, I’m speaking with Jon Yeo, aside from working as a communication coach assisting business leaders to engage with content since like 2009 Jon has been a licensee and head of curation TEDx Melbourne. Hi. JON AND WELCOME.

Jon Yeo: Hi, Donna. Good to see you.

Donna Hanson: I’m looking forward to finding out more about engaging with intent and particularly about your involvement with TEDx in Melbourne. I’ve always been curious about TED and TEDx now for the uninitiated what’s TED and what’s the difference between TED and TEDx

Jon Yeo: Yeah, it’s a good question and relatively common one. Ted began as a conference in 1984 and so it started in California. And so, they ran that for many, many years, and then they decided to do a global event which moves around Rio, Scotland all sorts of Africa. And they became the two Ted events that will know love which were all recorded a little bit later they decided to do what’s called a Ted X license, which is an independent license. It is run by a local organizer in their geography. So, because I’m in Melbourne. I have the Melbourne based TEDx license. And so, each geography has its own TEDx license as well.

Donna Hanson: And I guess that makes it easier for them to a create a bigger brand, a more global truly global audience and a mechanism for them to develop more content and obviously get the message out.

Jon Yeo: Yeah. Absolutely got it in one

Donna Hanson: So, what was the journey to becoming licensee and head of curation pathetic. Now that I’m guessing probably somebody just didn’t come and knock on your door and say, hey, we’ve got this awesome opportunity. Would you like you know bit like door to door selling

Jon Yeo: Look what the, I mean, there’s still is an application process but effectively back then, Ted. Well, the that type of community that feature focus optimistic, you know, productive type communities was a bit of a rarity back then in 2009 and so became my tribe. And so, while I wasn’t the founding licensee I was part of the team that began the organization and she had to decide in 2009 whether she was going to run the next TEDx

Donna Hanson: Melbourne.

Jon Yeo: Or organize her wedding. So it kind of landed on my lap. I didn’t want the community to die, and he’s just sort of the rest, State’s history

Donna Hanson: Oh, awesome. Now, just an additional you know added the blue curiosity factor. Um, is there a licensee fee? To buy Let’s, let’s not talk about numbers better fame doesn’t generate revenue.

Jon Yeo: Yeah, there is no fee but the license expires. The moment you run your event and it’s renewed based on whether you’re within 10% of the global net promoter score so that’s the hard part. Because that’s hard to keep up with.

Donna Hanson: Well, I guess that’s a benchmark designed to keep you focused on the end goal, which is making sure that every event you create is engaging

Jon Yeo: Exactly, exactly. And so, all it is focused on event and experiencing experience design.

Donna Hanson: And what do you think is made both TED and TEDx so popular globally. Because, I mean, you mentioned Ted or TEDx and instantaneous recognition worldwide.

Jon Yeo: I think It’s largely because I mean, Ted began is the convergence of technology entertainment. And design so that convergence really lead to worldwide launches of things like CDs and the Apple Macintosh which before our list of public was shared amongst the tech community so became sort of a space to see the future. And see the possibility of the world. And so, I still think it continues to do that very much around the its core principle of ideas worth spreading where
it’s not the idea, necessarily, but the word spreading part then becomes the interesting part of the brand.

Donna Hanson: Yeah, there’s no shortage of ideas, but do today. You say,
the establishment of the TEDx did that change the dynamic of the content that was involving tape like it. Is it being it straight line that it must be technology in education entertainment design.

Jon Yeo: Entertainment. It didn’t in because I think one of the things that unique about that communities that were all. A certain mindset or and like I said future focus optimistic proactive and so it just became a bit of a grounds well and on the ground community run by the community owned by the Community shared by the community. And I think that was its power. It could bring the power of that community together and still capture and cultivate those ideas and inspirations.

Donna Hanson: Awesome. So, um, I know this is probably a challenging question one that I’m going to throw on you out of the blue. Do you have a favourite Ted or TEDx talk or is that like selecting your favourite child.

Jon Yeo: These a little bit. It is a little bit. I like different talks of different reasons. Sometimes deliveries on as PERSPECTIVE, SOMETIMES inside. Sometimes it’s just beautifully done. But I think one of the smartest ones that called culminate or that is one my direct service called weird or just different. And the beauty of its only two and a half minutes.

Donna Hanson: Oh wow, is it unusual for TEDx because what’s the time frame you normally giving

Jon Yeo: Yeah. So historically, they’ve been up to 18 minutes that was back, way back when I’m today, the average TED talks about nine. So, two and a half. Still, sure. But I think the attention spans of the communities getting shorter, denser the talks are sort of reflecting it.

Donna Hanson: Okay, so, um, I know there’s a whole lot of other questions I want to ask as well. But I’m going to ask one final question about that the TED element.
Do people like to spend a lot of time working on their ideas and refining their ideas or is it one of those things where people say, I’m going to do a TED talk and off they go.

Jon Yeo: I think different organizers approach it slightly differently, but I think in the main it starts that quality expectation is starting to go up. And so, for me, I will personally work with a speaker anywhere between 18 and 27 hours with them. Plus, practice which you know can probably be you know anywhere between 1500 and 50 hours.

Donna Hanson: All for that tiny little bit of psycho her scene for a theatre play or a TV show, I guess, isn’t it?

Jon Yeo: Oh, it looks. It’s not unlike the Olympic something if you do in the hundred meters. Dash. That’s literally nine seconds of your life that you might spend 4 – 8 years Preparing for and, you know, a TED talk, kind of, I would approach it the same way. It’s a great opportunity.

Donna Hanson: Fantastic. So, I’m syncing based upon you know your other work that there’s a bit of a link between Ted TEDx and your work as a communication coach legacy touched on that there with the coaching of
Potential or people who are presenting for TED, TED and TEDx. Well, what is engaging with intent mean for you, and why does it matter.

Jon Yeo: Engaging with intent is really around the impression underneath the ID have. So, in my world is three sort of core pillars in terms of communication is the content use you share and a lot of people say content is King, and I would say well content is kind of minimum because content is everywhere. And so, you’ve got really must have good content before it starts. So, you can stand out.

Contents, which can be things like the nature of your interaction, the time of day even can be important or the nature of that interaction. And then the intent is around. Well, what is your belief. Or purpose for that relationship and you do they trust your intent, you know, have you built that trust and rapport, but this is they don’t trust you, then it doesn’t matter what comes out of your mouth. And I think a lot of people just kind of go to their social media or the marketing just stand at the top of the building with their mega fine and yelled and message out expect the hordes to come running in it. Just doesn’t work that way anymore. And there’s so many modern examples. Now, where brands differentiate themselves because their intent is really done well.

Donna Hanson: Oh, clear. Yeah.

Jon Yeo: It is also a critical part

Donna Hanson: Absolutely. So, the sorts of people that you might engage or that might engage you to help. So, for example, you’re talking about presenters at the TEDx events. And, you know, we’re talking about business leaders are we talking about executives, but what are the types of people that will generally be looking for some type of a purposeful focus community coat communication coaching in this manner.

Jon Yeo: Yeah. So, in my work is typically CEOs and their direct reports the simulation. Occasionally, it’s the sales teams and then for sort of medium sized businesses, usually the business side. So, anyone who’s got to connect and engage very quickly, build trust and rapport.

Jon Yeo: And really make that impact really get that impression quickly, otherwise the opportunities lost

Donna Hanson: So, I’m sensing. It could be two-fold. It could be, you know, for example, as CEO, he might be wanting to communicate with the intent. Downwards through his organization or her organization as well as a CEO who might want to communicate with the intake outwardly as far as their brand message is concerned.

Jon Yeo: Yeah, exactly. So, it tends to be announcements or innovations that need to be launched and those announcements might be internal they might be external but it’s, it’s something that’s important and declarative that needs to be said unnoticed.

Donna Hanson: And absolutely, those sorts of things. A bottle and even a slight nuance or the choice of a wrong set of voice, as we all see in politics, just the wrong set of words at the wrong time sending an automatic reaction mode can have a huge impact.

Jon Yeo: Yeah, absolutely. I like this. I like to sort of colon as saying the right thing at the right time to the right person in the right way.

Donna Hanson: And that’s that certainly encapsulates it doesn’t

Jon Yeo: Absolutely.

Donna Hanson: I’m at listeners and viewers today, uh, probably thinking to themselves, you know, what sort of things. Could they change or adapt in their interactions to have greater engagement and be a bit more intentional and maybe a bit clear and get towards the outcomes that they’re after Jon

Jon Yeo: I would say that largely a lot of people are underprepared and while you don’t always get a chance you know sometimes you must be on. Promise you. I think the opportunities where you do get the opportunity being clear about what you’re going to say. And being clear about the value you want to create for the listener. Then becomes should become an important part of your messaging over and on top of what you’re going to say was, what are you going to say is going to come out anyway.

So, you might as well do it in their favour to see so they can see you in the best possible light or your message in the best possible light so that there’s a relationship established as opposed to an information transfer

Donna Hanson: So, it sounds like having started with the end in mind to use an adage, what the outcome that you’re looking to achieve because you could just go out there and talk about just about anything. And people go, well, that walk away going on. That’s nice, but I’m not called to move on something, or act. So, it sounds like primarily the first thing you do if you’re working with someone who is identify what it uses the end objective or the purpose of what they’re doing.

Jon Yeo: Absolutely. I mean that that’s one of the key pieces that I that I get people to focus on these certain political constraints that certain social constraints, a certain time and constraints, you got to factor in
but without that clear in point. It’s difficult to plan backwards, where you need to go and how you need to go about it because if you’re worried about just pure information. Transfer put in internet send it in an email, you know, there’s multiple ways to get information out there, but to build that real press reporting relationship then becomes the key attribute to really a great foundation for further conversation.

Donna Hanson: And I think sometimes what people do when they’re looking to communicate and they’ve maybe got the outcome is they’ve got so much information that often. What they do is I call it verbal diarrhoea. Sometimes they just say everything and they try to get the audience to be the ones to decipher and work out what are the relevant pieces of information. I’m guessing you see that

Jon Yeo: Yeah, absolutely. It’s particularly pertinent the virtual space where it’s so easy to get distracted and overwhelmed and just go do something else. And there’s nothing you can do about it. So, density, timing tone speed all these other things then become factors that cause someone to engage with what you’re really wanting to do here. And this is, it’s part art part science.

Donna Hanson: You talked a moment ago about distraction. Had we found that engaging with entailed in your work has changed because of, you know, the last period that we’ve been through the kind of coronavirus pandemic that people have needed to do and having maybe to approach a communication has changed because we’re doing far more virtual then within a down before.

Jon Yeo: I don’t know. That’s chat. I mean, so for me the medium is just another context. And we’re just using this context, more than we have in the past. Though if you weren’t experienced in this medium or this context, then it’s something you need to bring up to speed, but for people who are already there. Then there’s an opportunity to build on that and then take advantage because more and more tools come out every day. The different feature sets and different capabilities that you can then take advantage of. And so, knowing your tools, then becomes an important part of that. And it’s just like any other skill that’s just another tool.

Donna Hanson: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, look, I could probably talk for hours around a whole lot of different things. And I know you and I’ve talked off air for quite some time, regardless but one final question or ask, as you know, I’m passionate about productivity with technology.

And I’d really love to know with all the work that you’re doing, you know, if it takes and your communications coaching would share your favourite tip that you use to keep yourself productive. Now there might not be again it might be like choosing a child, you might need to choose a couple but that’s okay. There’s no rules here.

Jon Yeo: I think the single and this comes back to focus again. And it’s quite an analogy one because I used to type this up, but I don’t anymore actually have a look and literally have a post it notes. Top hardcore that basic your top six things stack ranked from one to six right at every night. Get up in the morning, start with number one and don’t do anything else until number one is done then star. Number two, etc. This allows you focus. There’s no pop ups. There’s no distractions. There’s clarity, when you get up, you don’t have to think in the morning because thinking is one of the most time consuming and energy consuming efforts that you have and you know, just do it overnight, that’s, I mean, that’s me probably the single biggest focus and then I you know me, I have lots of tech plays and technology things being a tech person myself that I like to sort of tweak and play with as well.

Donna Hanson: Yeah, I think I’m very much into that to the tactile nature of something plus the visual thing with a post it notes is it’s there and the sense of clarity, you get, you know, by scratching one awful ticking the Box or Whatever it is that’s your mechanism to mark off something has been done and you know, like you said analogy stuff. I think often what we’re looking for, what people are looking for. Now the next thing that’s going to solve the problem, but realistically, I believe we’ve already got everything we need to be successful. Right now, we don’t need something else. It’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together to achieve the outcome that you need to achieve or want to achieve.

Jon Yeo: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely and simplicity is almost always the best.

Donna Hanson: Absolutely spot on there. Yeah. JON If our listeners or viewers want to get in touch with you to explore how you can help or Perhaps curious about TEDx or Ted regardless of where they are in the world. Maybe they want to attend an event where should they go

Jon Yeo: So, fit for the TED related stuff is of causes for my work is I have a website and then I I’m quite active on LinkedIn. So, feel free to kind of look at my stuff on LinkedIn.

If you do connect. Just put a little note, though, because I find that the people who don’t tend to be wanting to sell me something. And I’m bound by a general rule I don’t accept them anymore because I just get sold to map. So just put a note, more than happy to have a conversation and I have some articles there as well, which nail

Donna Hanson: Wonderful yet look on the same with LinkedIn to I figure if you can push the button to send me a link, you can afford to type a few more keystrokes to tell me a found me or you know that we know somebody jointly because even something like that can make the connection, a little bit more comfortable then then just I want to join your network.

Jon Yeo: Yeah. And it’s clarifying the intent. Again, I understand the nature of our interaction and the nature of the value that we want to correct for each other. And that’s what LinkedIn is all about. I think

Donna Hanson: Awesome. Well Jon thanks so very much for your time today and for your insights on TEDx and for engaging with intent thank you for joining us on this Expert Insights episode. Until next time, this is productivity and technology expert Donna Hanson have an amazing week!

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