TED talks – how do they keep the quality so high?

If you are a keen follower of TED talks then you might be interested in how they help their speakers perform so well.

First, part of the magic is picking the right people to talk.  But even then, as any conference goer can tell you, even good speakers can have an off day – or they might not prepare enough for that particular event.

Second, there is competition.  With the bar set so high, and with other TED talks available  on YouTube, speakers are able to study what works.  We have used TED videos in our presentation training as examples of best practice.

Third, TED have put together their Ten TED commandments.  Apparently, when you agree to be a speaker, you receive this heavy stone tablet in the post.  It says:

  1. Thou shalt not simply trot out thy usual shtick.
  2. Thou shalt dream a great dream, or show forth a wondrous new thing, or share something thou hast never shared before.
  3. Thou shalt reveal thy curiosity and thy passion.
  4. Thou shalt tell a story.
  5. Thou shalt freely comment on the utterances of other speakers for the sake of blessed connection and exquisite controversy.
  6. Thou shalt not flaunt thine ego. Be thou vulnerable; speak of thy failure as well as thy success.
  7. Thou shalt not sell from the stage: neither thy company, thy goods, thy writings, not thy desperate need for funding; lest thou be cast aside into outer darkness.
  8. Thou shalt remember all the while: laughter is good.
  9. Thou shalt not read thy speech.
  10. Thou shalt not steal the time of them that follow thee.

This stone tablet is packed with good advice for any speaker.  We have used them when coaching our clients for their TED talks – and for other talks. So, for you next presentation, print out these ten TED commandments and treat them as if Moses himself gave them to you. You might just find that it helps set your presentations free.

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