As I prepare to speak at TEDx this weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of research into what makes a great TED talk.

If you haven’t heard of TED before, it’s a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks. The time limit is generally 18 minutes or less.

TED first began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged. Today it covers a vast array of ideas that come from all walks of life, in more than 100 languages.

So here are my top 5 TEDTalks on how to give a great TED talk

1. June Cohen: What Makes a Great TEDTalk

June Cohen is the Executive Producer of TED Media. In this talk, June says it’s important to tell the audience something new when you’re presenting.

Her tips include:

  • Always present new ideas or a fresh take or a new angle on an old topic. Make sure you tell your story in a new way.
  • Ask yourself if your talk worth spreading and does it have a viral nature? There are all types of contagious emotions and this is makes people want to share. Not every talk has to inspire an incredible idea, but many of the best talks do.
  • Make sure you tell a story; take the audience on a journey with you. A good story means being personal and tells you something about the speaker. Keep your personal story at the centre so the audience can relate to the personal nature.
  • Don’t lose the audience or race ahead of your audience. One of the ways to avoid this is to not use jargon from your field and speak to a general level of intelligence.

2. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek is a leadership expert who has developed a simple and powerful model for inspirational leadership called the golden circle and the question “Why?”

While this talk is not specifically on how to present, he gives amazing examples using some of the biggest companies in the world as to what inspires people to take action.

His premise is people care about why you do something, not what you do.

Not only is this a great example of how to present a simple idea in a powerful way, but his concept is an idea you can use in your own presentations.

3. Gordon Kangas: Giving presentations worth listening to

Gordon speaks about how to give presentations that will ensure success.

His tips include:

  • Have a clear goal about how you want to change your audience by the end of your presentation.
  • Transform the goal into an achievable challenge – something that could actually change within your presentation.
  • Convert your goal into a big idea that people can be inspired by.
  • Everything you do in your presentation needs to be focused on getting your audience to your goal.
  • You’re not speaking to be interesting, you’re there to be effective.

4. Nancy Duarte: The secret structure of great talks

Nancy Duarte has analysed some of the most famous speeches in history, including the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King to Steve Job’s iPhone launch.

She has discovered all great presentations have a common architecture and story structure.

In this talk she shares how you can draw lessons from these speeches to create a great talk and a powerful call-to-action.

5. How to TEDx: How to give a great TEDx Talk

While this is not an actual TEDTalk, this is a great educational video on how to give a successful TEDx talk.

The key points are:

  • Make sure you use a strong opening hook.
  • Order your points so they follow naturally in the sequence of your talk.
  • Craft a great closing story with a call to action.
  • Add images to help tighten transitions and augment
    your stories.
  • Rehearse and practice in front of real audiences for several weeks.

Have you seen my TEDx talk?

If we're talking about TED talks, you may like to see mine on "Being open to 'Yes"

No matter if you are an introvert, extrovert or something in between, many of us struggle to move from the shadows into the spotlight. Being open to ‘Yes’ enables us to redefine the spotlight, understand we all deserve to be there and share our voice with the world.

And if you’re looking for a great article on how to create engaging PowerPoint slides, check out this great article from the TED blog: 10 tips on how to make slides that communicate your idea, from TED’s in-house expert.

photo credit: TEDxPSU 

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