Learn To Talk Like A TED Talker

You can become as good as one of those TED talkers
You can become as good as one of those TED talkers
Image Credit: urban_data

In the world of speakers, we are always looking for role models who understand the importance of public speaking and that will show us how this whole speaking thing is supposed to be done. Sure, there are the Tony Robbins of the world, but most of us don’t think that we’ll ever be able to emulate him. Instead, we go looking for more down-to-earth examples of speakers who can show us how good we could be. The good news is that it turns out that there are a lot of them, we call them TED speakers.

You Need To Have A Good Idea

So just exactly what is a TED speaker you ask? TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a conference that is held once a year out in California where a lot of very smart, very interesting people come and talk about what they are up to. Each gets only 18 minutes to share their story. These presentations are recorded and made available to everyone via the web. There are also TEDx events that are not the “mothership” event, but rather local versions of the big show. These speakers know that they are going to be in the spotlight and have practiced very hard. By in large, they all do a very good job.

If you want to learn how to speak like a TED speaker then you are going to have to start in the right place. You need to make a decision about what you’ll be talking about. Every TED speaker really, really cares about their topic. You are going to have to make sure that whatever you’ll be talking about is worth talking about. You are going to be occupying your audience’s time. Make sure that you are giving something of value to them, not just stealing their time.

Reduce, Reduce, Reduce

One of the things that makes a TED talk unique is that it is a short speech. No matter if you are talking about how you plan on feeding the world or if you are sharing a story about how you cleaned up your town, everyone gets the same 18 minutes. The thinking is that a speech of this length is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.

What this means for you is that you can’t load your speech with filler material. You are going to want to identify your one main idea and then build a speech that will allow you to unpack it for your audience in a way that they’ll be able to understand. You are going to want to avoid making the one mistake that most speakers make: trying to cram too much material into a speech.

Why Should I Care?

Just because you want to give a speech on a given topic does not necessarily mean that your audience wants to listen to you talk about it. You are going to have to spend some time thinking about just exactly why anyone in your audience would really care about what you’ll be talking about. This is going to require you to make a human connection with your audience.

To capture and hold your audience’s attention you are going to have to create a sense of curiosity in them. One way to go about doing this is to add intriguing questions to your speech that will allow you to explain to your audience why you think that something is going to be worth taking a close look at. You’ll want to point out to your audience what they don’t know. When they realize the gaps in their understanding of their world, they’ll turn to you to help fill in the missing pieces.


If there is one thing that all TED presenters do, its practice. Giving a TED presentation is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really get your message across. The audience that shows up for TED presentations is filled with really important and famous people. Once the video of your presentation goes online, there will be many, many more people who will see it. All of this means that you had better get it right and the only way to make that happen is to practice, practice, practice.

There is nothing special about being a public speaker – we don’t have super powers. If you look at musicians and actors, they understand that before they take the stage, they first need to take the time to get it right. The one thing that you don’t want to do is to make your audience have to suffer through a bad presentation just because you couldn’t be bothered to take the time to practice what you wanted to tell them.

What All Of This Means For You

No matter how good of a public speaker you are, you know that you can always become better. One way to become a better speaker is to find good examples of people who have mastered the craft of speaking and who know how to share the benefits of public speaking. It turns out that if we take the time to watch some TED presentations, we can see ordinary people who have learned how to give powerful presentations.

If you want to become as good of a speaker as a TED presenter then you are going to have to pick a topic to talk about that you really care about. Your audience can’t be made to care about something that you don’t first care about. Next you are going to have to identify the main point that you want to make to your audience. Once you know this, you are going to want to cut away everything else in your speech so that you can focus on this one main point. For your presentation to be effective, you are going to have to find a way to make your audience care about what you’ll be talking about. You need to appeal to their sense of curiosity and get them to want to learn what you have to teach them. After you’ve done all of this, you are going to have to take the time to practice what you’ll want to say in order to get it right.

There are so many TED talks out there that you can always find one that appeals to you. Take the time to watch it and understand how the presenter was able to connect with their audience. Spend some time mastering your “TED” skills before your next speech and you’ll have a chance to go out there and change the world!

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

Question For You: Even if you have more than 18 minutes to give your speech, should you take it?

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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

Creating a speech and then delivering a speech is hard work. When we are creating our speech, we tend to focus on the importance of public speaking and what we want to say. We have a thought, and idea, or a position that we want to share with our audience. The purpose of our speech is to find a way to express our idea in a way that will capture our audience’s attention and, with a little luck, get them to see things our way. However, there are those times that something that we either say or do will irritate or anger one or more members of our audience. What’s a speaker to do then?

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