Mastering The TED Talk

To do well, you need tips on how to be successful at TED
To do well, you need tips on how to be successful at TED
Image Credit: Lawrence Wang Follow

So of course, the first question is do you know what a TED talk is? I would suspect that most of us do by now. TED is an acronym that stands for technology, entertainment, and design. There is one big TED event each year at which all sorts of famous people come and present to show off the importance of public speaking and then there are a host of other so called “TEDx” events that are held in cities all over the globe. What all of these have in common is a standard format (18 minutes of speaking time or less) and the videos from these events get posted for the rest of the world to see. Getting invited to speak at one of these events is a big honor; however, if you get invited will you be ready?


Preparing For Your TED Talk

Ok, so you’ve been invited to participate in your local TEDx event and now you’re on the hook to deliver a presentation that will knock everyone’s socks off. The very first thing you need to deal with is how much time you’ll have. The good news here is that every TED presenter has the same amount of time: up to 18 minutes, but no more. Don’t even think about going over 18 minutes because it’s not allowed and nobody does it. This limited amount of time means that you are going to have to get to the heart of what you are talking about quickly because you don’t have any time to waste.

The next thing that you’re going to have to deal with is what you should include in your speech. This is where things get a bit tricky. Most of us are familiar with writing speeches and we do it by starting out with an introduction, working our way into the body of the speech, then wrapping things up with a call to action. Because you have such limited time when you are giving a TED speech, you are going to have to change the structure of your speech. You will need to pick a single idea and then build your entire speech around that idea. That’s all the time that you’ll have to work with.

Once you have those items worked out, now you are going to have to make some decisions about how you want to deliver your speech. Most of us are used to standing at the front of a room and making a presentation. The problem with this is that if you’ve ever taken the time to look at some TED talks, that’s not the way that these things are done. Instead, when you are delivering your TED talk you are going to want to adopt a conversational style. It’s almost as though you are talking to each of the people who will be watching you from home over the next 10 years.


Delivering Your TED Talk

Once you have created your speech and you are sure that it will fit into the allocated time and you know exactly what you want to say, now will be time for you to determine how you want to go about saying it. One of the key issues that you are going to have to deal with is what to do with your body during the delivery. What you are going to want to do is to practice your speech and make sure that all of your body movements come across as being natural. We don’t want to have any jerky or unnatural movements because those will distract our audience and take their attention away from the message of our speech.

We are going to the effort of creating and delivering a TED talk for a specific reason. We want to change the world. What this means is that during our presentation we will be presenting ideas. These are the ideas that we want to have an impact on our audience’s lives. A key part of our speech has to be to tell our audience, once our speech is done, how they can go about taking action. If we can get this across to them, then we have a good chance that our speech can really make an impact.

In the end, once we have all of these various characteristics of a speech nailed down it all really comes down to just one more thing: we have to get up on the stage and deliver our speech. If we spend too much time thinking about this, it can easily become nerve wracking. That’s why it’s generally a good idea to spend some time looking at other people’s TED talks. Yes, they generally are good talks, but nobody is perfect. You are as good as those guys are and perhaps your message is even more important than theirs was. Now go out there and give the best TED talk that anybody has ever seen!


What All Of This Means For You

TED talks have almost become the gold standard of speech giving. The TED talks that have been recorded and uploaded have been viewed so many times that it’s almost become a given when talking about something that we can say “I think that there is a TED talk about that.” If you are so lucky to get invited to give a TED talk you will need to make sure that you prepare the correct type of speech and you prepare to deliver it in the appropriate way in order to provide your audience with the benefits of public speaking.

In order to prepare a TED talk, you need to know how much time you have. The time is always the same: you have a maximum of 18 minutes for your presentation. Since this is not a lot of time, when you are designing your speech you are going to have to limit it to just one idea. The style that you are going to want to practice using will be a conversational style that will go over well with the audience that will be watching the video of your presentation. When you are on the stage giving your speech, you are going to want your body language to come across as being natural body movements. The goal of giving a speech like this is to present ideas that your audience can then go ahead and implement. When called on to give a TED presentation, get over your nerves and then go out there and knock ’em dead!

The great thing about being asked to give a TED talk is that your speech has the ability to reach a lot of people globally. This means that its impact will not just be felt on the day that you give it, but can be felt long afterwards as more and more people watch the video of your presentation. If you take the time to create a well-crafted speech, study how other TED talks have been delivered, and then go out and give your version of this unique type of speech, you just might change the world!


– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™


Question For You: If your TED talk is too long, what do you think that you should do in order to get it to fit into your allocated time?


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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it – you are not the first presenter your audience has ever seen. In fact, they have probably seen lots of other presenters. However, you would like to be able to use the importance of public speaking to become the presenter that your audience remembers. You’d like this to happen if you are the only presenter that they are seeing today or if they are going to be seeing a lot of different presenters. When your audience goes home tonight, you want your words to be the ones that are still ringing in their ears. If you want this to happen, then you are going to have to impress your audience.

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