7 tips for crafting a great TED talk

The nonprofit TED has become a major forum for leaders bringing forth new ideas. Here’s how to make your speaker’s talk a success, regardless of the venue or audience.

Ragan Insider Content

When planetary scientist Carolyn Porco gave a talk for TED—the nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading”—she described new evidence that the ingredients for life could exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

The discovery could have enormous implications, suggested Rob Friedman, senior director of executive communications at Eli Lilly and Co.

“Right now, on one of the moons of Saturn, theoretically somebody else could be delivering a talk on how to deliver a TED talk,” Friedman joked.

Friedman offers his own tips in a new Ragan Training session, “How to write an effective TED talk.” The session provides tips for writing for executives and others who may give a speech for TED and other venues.

TED talks differ widely. Why, then, are they so compelling? You can hear a researcher describing having a stroke, Friedman said, or take in an expert’s thoughts on motivation or how schools kill creativity.

Yet successful TED talks share several characteristics. They take on a problem and offer a solution, Friedman said. They include an element of novelty. They are built around stories. And they touch the heart.

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