TED Talks: Presentations from Which You’ll Learn a Lot

Ideas and inspiration delivered effectively

TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. What TED Talks have become, however, cover a much wider range of topics and ideas than its creators initially anticipated. “Ideas worth spreading” is its tagline, and its mission is to make those ideas more “accessible and spark conversation.”

Each TED Talk features a speaker that leaves viewers energized from a short spurt of intellectual stimulation. The feeling is similar to what you experience after finishing a good book, but attained through a video less than 18 minutes long. Why? Because the speaker is able to leave the viewers inspired by or at least encouraged to think about the idea they so passionately support.

A unique element of TED Talks is how its ideas are presented. These bite-sized offerings of information allow us to engage mentally with something without being exhausted or overwhelmed by it. Much of the subject matter at first glance seems like it could only pertain to a particular audience, but each speech is delivered with precision and filtered in layman’s terms with definitions as necessary so that anyone with an inkling of interest could learn from the video.

Many times, the speaker tells a candid story to draw the audience in. These stories may be about the circumstances that lead them to their conclusion or their experiences working with personal projects. This tactic maintains interest and provides opportunity to strengthen key points. An important thing to note is that no story is used as filler—every word has purpose and each person is fully invested in what they are telling the audience. All points presented eventually link back to the core part of their argument or insight.

Traditional speech-giving tips are a foundation on TED Talks as well. Presenters make use of gestures, a comfortable stance, eye contact, and on occasion a little bit of what the stand-up comedy world calls “crowd work,” by connecting with the audience directly through questions or encouraged participation.

So what can we learn from TED Talks?

  • Speak simply. Never over-complicate your dialogue.
  • Don’t drag your presentation on longer than necessary.
  • Be relatable. People are naturally inclined to agree with whom they share a common bond. This can be achieved not only through simple speech, but also through sharing stories of your background, mission, or vision.
  • Maintain an interest. Develop a tactic to pull your audience back in if you feel that your message is becoming lost in the room.

Speaking effectively is a necessary skill to have in many situations. Teaching a class, giving a presentation to a business client, or interviewing for a job are just some examples of environments that require succinct communication and clear demonstrations of a topic. This is where we can take more away from TED Talks than just the subject matter offered.

Check out this video below from Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Talks, where he shares his insight on what makes for an effective presentation.