What you can learn from an outstanding TED talk

One of the series’ most popular offerings of 2016 focused on breaking bad habits. Regardless of your topic or area of expertise, its structure offers key lessons for your next presentation.

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TED talks offer great takeaways for speakers.

I was pleased, but not at all surprised, to see Judson Brewer’s TEDMED talk from 2015 about “an easy way to break a bad habit” on TED’s list of the 10 most popular TED talks in 2016, with more than 6 million views and counting.

Brewer was among the TEDMED speakers I coached in 2015, and I think there’s much to learn from this talk, for researchers contemplating TED-style talks, and anyone else who wants to understand the form.

Here are six things that make this talk work well:

1. Time management: Clocking in at 9 minutes, 16 seconds, Brewer’s talk is complex and compact. Mind you, he’s talking about multiple studies and their results, not just one, but with careful editing, we learn just what we need to understand his topic. That work comes in during the scripting process, with edits made as practice and coaching require.

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