TEDxMarshall U Blogs

3 Things Everyone Should Know about Giving a Great TED Talk

by the TEDxMarshallU: RISING Team

Being invited to speak on a public stage can be daunting. Naturally, it is met with fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. For those invited to give a TED talk, this forum can easily be assumed to be one of the most intimidating forums due to its global reach. Though, after researching the most popular TED talks, three themes have emerged that have resulted in nailing a TED talk; newness, story, and actionable. If followed, one can feel confident their speech is TED-ready.  

  1. Newness  

In 2010, June Cohen, Executive Producer of TED Media, addressed what she believes contributes to a great TED Talk in her own TEDxGateway Talk. Among her various beliefs, she discusses the idea of newness. Before giving pitching an idea, think about the idea for a second. Ask the following questions. Is this a new approach to an old idea? Will people share it with others? Is it something people will find interesting? Hopefully, this can be answered with a yes, but if not, dig a little deeper. Pose the questions, what makes your idea unique? Why should people care and share?  

  1. Story 

Reflecting on days writing research papers, we remember teachers and professors requiring support through evidence. Why? Well for one, it makes claims less refutable and provides credibility to your piece. Not only does providing evidence assert credibility and verifiability, using stories, specifically anecdotal ones, connect the speaker with the audience. It helps the speaker become more relatable and helps the audience understand the conveyed idea, especially if it is fundamentally complex.  

TEDxMarshallU Student Co-organizer, Kelly’s favorite TED Talk is Natalie Warne’s 2011 TEDx Teen Talk because it demonstrates the power of storytelling. The idea behind Warne’s talk is that one can be extraordinary by making bold, relentless actions even if those actions go unnoticed. She conveys this idea through a strong story of her experience joining the “Invisible Children” movement– a movement to end child abductions, murders, and violence in Africa. Warne’s actions eventually led her to interviews with Larry King, CNN, and Oprah Winfrey. Although these moments were a dream to her, she hones in on that the “Oprah Show” moments do not define us. What defines us are our everyday acts. It is those moments in which people are not watching that make us extraordinary. Because of Warne’s idea and inspiring story, her talk has been viewed over 800,000 times on TED.com. We encourage you to watch Natalie Warne’s TED Talk by clicking here.  

  1. Actionable 

The heart of TED is the belief that everyone has an idea worth sharing. Sharing ideas and stories are important, but there is another component that elevates your talk; Is your TED talk idea actionable? American professor, Brene Brown, does just this in her 2010 TEDxHouston Talk by sharing her journey researching love and vulnerability. Her talk is strengthened by incorporating actionability by stating, “let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee.” In turn, “by letting ourselves be seen then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.” A simple yet poignant statement can transform our behavior as such in this case. Without it, the audience would be asking, “so why is this important?” To have a stellar TED Talk is to leave your audience with something– something that empowers them to use your idea to see the world in a new way and to make it a better place.  

We believe ideas are worth sharing and that ideas can come from anywhere. If you believe you have a new idea and can craft a Talk that can be demonstrated through a story and can leave your audience yearning to take action, we encourage you to pitch to be this year’s Crowdsourced Speaker. Click here for more information. 

If speaking at our event is not in your wheelhouse this year, tune into TEDxMarshallU’s event on April 2, 2021. We cannot wait to share ideas that will inspire you.   

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