Speakers, follow the 10 TED Commandments

TED has a list of rules it asks its speakers to follow, and you would benefit from doing the same.

TED has exploded into mainstream consciousness due to many factors (especially CNN’s TED Talk Tuesdays). TEDx, TEDWomen. With such a widespread organization, it’s important to have rules for presenters. These guidelines come in the form of the 10 TED Commandments.


When giving any presentation, apply the 10 TED Commandments to ensure success.

Here are the commandments, as well as links to articles that can help you improve the skill addressed in each guideline:

1. Thou shalt not simply trot out thy usual shtick.

Read: “5 great ways to open a speech” and “5 signs your speech will bore your audience

2. Thou shalt dream a great dream, or show forth a wondrous new thing, or share something thou hast never shared before.

Read: “‘I Have a Dream’ holds 5 lessons for speechwriters

3. Thou shalt reveal thy curiosity and thy passion.

Read: “3 public speaking lessons from Julia Child

4. Thou shalt tell a story.

Read: “Compelling stories make memorable speeches

5. Thou shalt freely comment on the utterances of other speakers for the sake of blessed connection and exquisite controversy.

Read: “The smartest insights ever about public speaking

6. Thou shalt not flaunt thine ego. Be thou vulnerable; speak of thy failure as well as thy success.

Read: “7 ways to connect with your audience during a speech

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.

Read: “5 ways to become a better speaker overnight

8. Thou shalt remember all the while: Laughter is good.

Read: “7 ways to inject humor into your speech” and “How to add humor to your speech—without being a comedian

9. Thou shalt not read thy speech.

Read: “What standup comics can teach you about public speaking

10. Thou shalt not steal the time of them that follow thee.

Read: “7 reasons to plan extra time into your speech

My favorite TED commandments include No. 4, “Thou shalt tell a story” (a philosophy preached by Nancy Duarte), as well as Nos. 6, 8 and 9 (all of which relate to Garr Reynolds’ ideas on delivery as expressed in “The Naked Presenter ). As much as possible, I incorporate these 10 guidelines into my class lectures and presentations to ensure my audience is as energized as possible.

What other rules or guidelines do you follow when presenting?

A version of this article originally appeared on Alex Rister’s blog, Creating Communication.


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