How to give a great TED talk

Giving a TED Talk is an opportunity to share an idea you think the world needs to know. And what a big opportunity! Some TED Talks have arguably changed the world – both for the speaker and for the audience. Sir Ken Robinson’s talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” has been viewed well over 50 million times and has caused many educators to think differently about the importance of maintaining children’s innate creativity throughout their academic lives and into their careers.

Where to begin?

Your first step is to come up with the idea. Think about the big questions to get there: What change would you like to see in the world? How could things be better? If everyone could do just one thing, what would it be? What are you in a unique position to understand that the rest of us aren’t? What do you know that we need to know? What have you experienced? What have you learned? If your audience learns one thing from you while you are on the TED stage, what would it be?

Next, really get to know your audience. TED audiences are there because they want to learn something new and/or have traditional ways of thinking challenged. They are so passionate about this, that at least here in Bend, they will pay money to give up their Saturday to sit in a dark room and listen to speaker after speaker. Take this to heart in planning your talk: dark room, speaker after speaker, and, an audience of lifetime learners. With so much going on it’s all the more important that your idea is crystal clear and that your delivery is fresh and meaningful. Remember, this is your opportunity to change the world.

Your next step is to map out your talk. This is the fun part! Everything you say or show or do must connect back to your big idea. Anything superfluous has the potential to water down your message. With this in mind, along with the time constraint (6-18 minutes) make a list of ways you can prove or support your idea. Be creative! Use stories, research, statistics, drama, anything that will bring life to your idea. Be fearless! Check out Joe Smith, “How to Use a Paper Towel” for inspiration.

Scripting and rehearsing are next. As you write your talk, have a goal of loving every single sentence.  Then find people who can help you and give you honest feedback along the way. Consider hiring a coach. If you are selected for a TED event chances are you will be assigned a volunteer coach. Use your coach! And put together a team of others whom you admire and whose opinions you trust. Let them review your scripts, send them audio and/or videotapes of you rehearsing, and then do plenty of live rehearsing. The process will take lots of time and effort and it’s worth the trouble. If you’re going to change the world you really need to nail this! This is just a taste of what you should think about in planning a TED Talk. For more, check out by Chris Anderson, Curator of TED.