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How to Give a Ted Talk

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Summary of Presentation: How to Give and Engaging TED Talk with Rikeesha Phelon, Communications Strategist

By AWC member Patty Knepler

TED talks’ popularity has made it so that the world no longer needs to be tolerant of bad speakers. And this presentation is not advice exclusive to TED Talks—you can use this structure for all of your speaking engagements, such as pitching ideas to your boss or talking to a reporter.

TED Talk Structure:

  • One idea

  • Three parts (Introduction, Body, Conclusion)

  • Eighteen minutes

TED’s slogo is “ideas worth spreading”. How do you develop an idea worth spreading?

Use these talking tools:

Ideation: A topic and title are not enough. You need a BIG idea that is interesting and meets your audience’s specific needs. Spend time developing this idea and how you will connect or weave your big idea throughout the whole presentation. Ideas that are worth spreading include:

  • Something new

  • Something surprising

  • Taking an old idea and presenting it in a new way

  • Challenging a commonly held rule or belief

Connection: This is more than eye contact; you need to connect heart-to-heart or mind-to-mind. Speakers can achieve this by being the following:

  • Passionate: Incorporate something into your speech you are passionate about.

  • Authentic: Don’t mistake vulnerability for authenticity. Vulnerability only works if it is genuine. The audience can pick out a fake.

  • Generous: Take the stage because you have something to give, not so you can get something out of it.

  • Personalbe: Talk to your audience, not at them.

Narration: Humans see the world in stories. Recreate a story in the listener’s mind that has enough emotion to connect with the audience. If you don’t have a personal story then use someone else’s. There are two essential things to remember:

  • Stories are more powerful than data.

  • You are not the hero in the story. Position your audience as the hero and you as the guide.

Listen to the full 45-minute lesson. Rikeesha shares specific examples of Ted talks that do a fantastic job of incorporating the talking tools outlined above. Members can view past webinars by logging into Members Only, Past Programs.


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