Many coaches make the error of urging speakers with big, complex ideas to skip over details in order to keep things simple. In the same way, many think the key to a great TED talk is a personal story, a formulaic approach, a big inspiring ending. But in a new and definitive guide to giving TED talks--written by the head of TED, Chris Anderson--you'll find that it's your idea and nothing else that is the most important part of a TED talk. That big red dot would be nothing without your stellar content, something I've learned firsthand coaching more than 140 speakers for TEDMED and TEDx talks.
In the video released as a preview for the book, Anderson shares four essential steps you should take to build an idea in the minds of your audience:
- limit your talk to one single idea, then focus on how to explain it properly, make it vivid.
- give your listeners a reason to care, to make them curious and welcoming of your idea. I sometimes call this answering the "so what?" question.
- build your idea from concepts and language your audience already understands.
- make it worth sharing, asking who it benefits? If that answer is just you and your organization, it won't work. People will share things they see as useful to them.
I recorded this talk to share some of the core findings of the book. In part, we want to demolish for all time the myth that there is a TED Talk formula. There really isn’t. A key intention of the book, and this talk, is to encourage greater variety in TED Talks, both in how they're prepared and in how they're delivered.So speakers, you heard that right: TED wants talks of greater variety in both prep and delivery. Instead of seeking a formula, seek a new way to share your big ideas. And remember, anyone who tells you they know the formula for a TED talk is lying.
You can sharpen your skills on TED talks three ways with these new resources:
- Watch The Secret to Giving a Great TED talk video below.
- Pre-order the book TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking (I've pre-ordered it in ebook and audio formats).
- Read Chris Anderson's long interview on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR, transcript here.