How to make a great presentation

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How to Create Your TED Talk: An 8-Step Process

by Jezra on March 9, 2017

First, A Little Background on TED

The TED conference (which stands for  technology, entertainment, design ) began life in 1984 as a yearly and very expensive conference where industry leaders and creative types gathered to exchange “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Back then, it was all about the live experience, and speakers were expected to bring some quirky spontaneity to the stage.

But fast forward more than 30 years, and TED has become an institution, spawning countless local “TEDx” events, putting hundreds of speeches online each year, getting millions upon millions of views, and changing the way we all think about public speaking!

So, What  IS  a TED Talk?

According to Chris Anderson, the owner and global curator of TED, every TED talk starts with an idea :

“You have something meaningful to say, and your goal is to re-create your core idea inside your audience’s minds.” —from TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

Anderson calls this idea “the gift in every great talk.” Your idea may:

  • Be common-sense (“Every kid needs a champion”) or counter-intuitive (“The way we think about charity is wrong”)
  • Describe a scientific breakthrough (“How bacteria talk”) or your own experience (“I am the son of a terrorist, here’s how I chose peace”)
  • Motivate people to action (“We need to talk about an injustice”) or greater self-awareness (“Your elusive creative genius”)

But in every case, your TED talk will begin with an idea.

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And whether or not your talk actually builds a model of your idea in your listeners’ brain — Anderson takes that literally, and research on “neural coupling” backs him up — your TED talk exists to communicate this idea to your listeners.

That is your talk’s one and only goal.

Other Qualities of Successful TED Talks

In TED’s secret to great public speaking (an eight-minute video that’s worth watching), Anderson offers three guidelines for creating your TED talk:

  • Focus on one major idea
Ideas are complex things; you need to slash back your content so that you can focus on the single idea you’re most passionate about , and give yourself a chance to explain that one thing properly… Everything you say [should link] back to it in some way.
  • Give people a reason to care
Stir your audience’s curiosity. Use intriguing, provocative questions to identify why something doesn’t make sense and needs explaining. If you can reveal a disconnection in someone’s worldview , they’ll feel the need to bridge that knowledge gap.
  • Build your idea with familiar concepts
Build your idea, piece by piece, out of concepts that your audience already understands … A vivid explanation… delivers a satisfying ah-hah! moment as it snaps into place in our minds.

These are important best practices, but they don’t tell you what to  do  to create a TED talk.

For that, try this…

8-Step Process for Creating Your TED Talk

Step 1. find an idea you want to share.

To hone in on your idea worth sharing, it can be useful to ask yourself things like:

  • What’s one assumption I’d like to challenge?
  • What’s a belief of mine that has changed, and why?
  • What does everyone miss when they think about my area of interest or expertise?

And remember, you’re looking for an idea . As Jeremey Donovan says in How to Deliver a TED Talk ,

…an idea is not a theme, a general truth, a platitude or a big goal. “Everyone wants to feel included” is not an idea, it’s a general truth. “Empowering women” is not an idea, it’s a topic.

Step 2. Develop an unexpected and/or catchy way to state your idea

If your idea can be stated in a catchy way, listeners will pay more attention and remember it more easily. Here are some examples (with more conventional versions of the same idea in parentheses):

  • We can solve malnutrition now (vs. Malnutrition is a problem that is finally, in our day and age, able to be resolved by advances in science.)
  • Almost dying saved my life (vs. A near death experience created the motivation for me to face and overcome problems that otherwise would have slowly killed me.)
  • Never, ever give up (vs. Cultivate the ability to commit without wavering; it’s an essential component of your lifelong success.)

Step 3. Collect anything and everything that relates to your idea

To re-create your idea in the minds of your listeners, you’ll need vivid examples, illustrations, stories, facts, questions, comments, etc.

So take a few days to notice anything and everything that relates to your idea, and collect these materials by writing them down, taking photos, recording your thoughts as sound files, etc.

Examples of things you might collect include:

  • a snippet of conversation
  • a quote you heard in high school
  • a story that relates to your idea
  • a fact, or cluster of data that supports it
  • a metaphor or analogy that helps explain it
  • a personal moment in your relationship with the idea
  • a physical object that will help your audience understand it (here, my client Erika Frenkel presents an anesthesia machine )

Basically, anything that comes to your mind at this stage should be collected.

And don’t worry yet about which materials will end up in your talk.

You can’t collect  things and evaluate  them at the same time, so just collect for now; you’ll have a chance to evaluate later.

Step 4. Start imagining how you might open and end your talk

While it’s too soon to choose your opening and close, it’s not too soon to start playing with ideas for these important parts of your talk.

An effective way to begin any speech (not just a TED talk) is to grab your audience’s attention — often with a human interest story, a surprising statistic, an unexpected observation, or a thought-provoking question.

There are probably some great attention-grabbers in the material you collected for Step 3. Pick one that you particularly like, and flag it as a possible  opening for your talk.

As for the close , you’ll probably want to end your talk in a positive, forward-looking way . This is often done by:

  • calling the audience to action;
  • painting a hopeful picture of the future; and/or
  • “paying off” (finishing, resolving) a story or discussion that has run through your talk, so that listeners get a sense of closure.

With your provisional opening and close in mind, you’re now ready to…

Step 5. Put the rest of your materials in a reasonable order

The middle of any speech is tricky, and a TED talk is particularly so, because TED talks can take just about any form you’d like.

So to tackle this part of your TED talk, take the materials you’ve collected and shuffle them until you find a good arrangement. To do this, you can:

  • Create a high-level outline (leave out most of the detail, just arrange the big points or elements)
  • Write each element (story, comment, observation, fact) on a 3 x 5 card and physically shuffle them to see different possible orders. (You can do this on a table, or digitally, by creating one slide per element and shuffling them with PowerPoint’s “slide sorter” feature)
  • Use sound (speaking out loud) instead of writing to put your talk elements into different sequences (Ask: Does it sound right if I tell that story first, then give the fact? How about if I give the fact first, then tell the story?)
  • Try any other method that works for you.

How will you know when the order is good?

Keep in mind that your goal is to create an understanding of your idea in the minds of your audience members , and try to arrange your explanations, comments, and stories in a way that leads to that goal. (You’ll get to test this on real people in Step 7.)

Trust your instincts: If something seems out of place to you, it probably is. Try moving it to a different part of your talk or even skipping it, and see if that works better.

And don’t expect to find the best organization for your talk the first time you try, because that almost never happens!

Step 6. Talk your way to a rough draft of your script

This is where your “speaking plan” becomes a “speech.”

Take your outline or list of ordered elements and talk about each item in turn.

When I’m writing a speech, I like to literally talk it out loud and type up what I’m saying as I’m saying it — but you can also use your computer’s voice recognition software to capture your words, or talk into the voice memo feature on your phone (this used to be called “dictating”) and type up the sound file later.

Why  record yourself talking  instead of just writing out the speech?

Because most of us get all formal and stiff when we write, and the ideal for a talk is that it sounds like you’re…  talking !

And here’s a hint:

As you do this step, pay particular attention to the way different elements (materials) that you’ve used in your talk are connected.

If, for example, you tell me that:

  • The river flooded, and
  • Some people moved out of the neighborhood…

I’ll want to know: Did people move  because  the river flooded? Did most people stay even though  the river flooded? Did the river flood  after  people had already moved?

When you spell things out clearly, people will form a clear picture of your point.

Step 7. Try out your Ted talk draft on a volunteer listener

The point of this step is to get feedback on how to improve the structure and clarity of your draft.

Ask someone you trust — a smart 10-year-old is perfect — to listen to your talk.

Read it to them (because you haven’t finalized, let alone memorized, it yet), and then ask them:

  • Did I explain my idea clearly?
  • Was there anything in my talk that you didn’t follow?
  • Was there anything you didn’t understand?
  • Did anything seem out of place?
  • Did I lose your interest anywhere?

If your listener wants to discuss the 6,000 facts you left out, or how your talk should really be about X instead of Y, gently lead them back to these questions.

The point is not to  change  your talk. The point is to  improve  it’s effectiveness.

Step 8. Repeat the following steps as needed

  • Based on your listener’s feedback, make changes that will improve your draft. But don’t get carried away editing; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! (And keep your old drafts in case you want to go back to something you did earlier; I number mine v1, v2, v3, etc.)

2. Practice delivering your new draft out loud.

3. Try out your new draft on a volunteer listener, get their feedback , and repeat these steps as often as needed until your talk has taken a satisfying shape.

And finally…

There’s no better time to start working on your talk than now. Even if your schedule is crammed, you’re better off working for a few minutes each day than leaving everything to the last minute!

And as you work this process, remember that perfection isn’t possible.

So instead of striving for perfection, prepare carefully, take your best shot, and try to  relax .

Your audience is going to love this talk — and you deserve to enjoy it, too!

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How to build a TED Talk-worthy presentation

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If you’ve experienced the challenge of developing and/or delivering an important presentation to a good-sized audience, there’s a chance you hoped it would go as well as a TED Talk—those incredibly well regarded presentations first popularized by the TED Foundation in the mid 2000s. TED Talks are often considered the “Everest” of engaging, informative presentations. Killing it on the TED stage is significant.

So with the intention of acting as your presentation sherpa, this article offers 8 steps to give you the best chance of building and delivering a TED Talk-worthy presentation.

how to create a ted talk presentation

TED Talks. People listen.   ‍

TED is a nonprofit with a mission to “spread ideas.” It began as a one-off conference (on technology, entertainment and design) in 1984—eventually evolving to a point where it launched an audio and podcast series called TED Talks .

From the history page on their site:

“ The first six TED Talks were posted online on June 27, 2006. By September, they had reached more than one million views. TED Talks proved so popular that in 2007, the TED website was relaunched around them, giving a global audience free access to some of the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and teachers.”

As a result of their success and popularity, TED Talks have inspired many other presentation-centric activities and events—such as conference keynotes and investor fundraising “demo days.”

What makes a TED Talk?

TED presenters arrive from all walks of life, and although their TED Talks span a wide range of topics, they all share a few characteristics:

  • 18 minutes or less. This is a TED rule, initiated by their founder, Chris Anderson, and also backed by scientific research . The basic premise is 18 minutes is long enough to do the job, but short enough to avoid having your audience begin to lose interest.
  • A big idea, worth sharing. Again, straight from TED. But expecting to deliver a compelling presentation that relays several meaty ideas in under 20 minutes is wishful thinking. By focusing on a single, compelling concept—you ensure maximum impact and can more successfully communicate key points.
  • Large audience, sizable venue. One-to-one, or one-to-few presentations delivered in a meeting or conference room play by different rules. We’re not addressing those here.

8 steps to the TED Talk mountain top

TED Talks are so well done they can almost seem magical. But it isn’t wizardry that makes them so compelling. In fact, there’s a formula you can follow—8 steps that will allow your presentations to deliver similar impact:

Step 1: Know your audience

This is fundamental for maximizing the success of any communication. In order to relay your “big idea” in the most effective way, you need to understand what your audience knows and cares about. Then tailor your presentation appropriately.

If you’re presenting to a new or relatively unknown audience, there are some quick ways to gather intel—such as researching and reading an applicable Reddit thread, or having a quick conversation with someone who’s more familiar.

Step 2. Scout your venue

As a general rule, the background of your slides should match the room in which you’re presenting. It’s not uncommon for large venues to be darkened so the visual focus is on what’s on stage. In some instances, however, stage environments can be illuminated or even a specific color or color theme. Matching slide backgrounds to the specifics of your venue can be very effective—allowing eyes to be drawn to the presentation’s content, not the full outline of the slides themselves.

how to create a ted talk presentation

Keep audience viewing angles and distance in mind as well. You want them on the edge of their seats, but not because they’re leaning forward and squinting to try and make out your tiny words.

how to create a ted talk presentation

Step 3. Think about your presentation as a whole

Your presentation is a story. It should flow from start to finish, and you should understand the primary points you want to make along the way. Look for the “big opportunities” and use your slides to truly highlight them. Not every slide should “Wow!” Some should be supportive and lead up to your key points—just like scenes in a movie plot. If every slide (or every scene) is intense, nothing will stand out. Outlines, index cards or sticky notes can be helpful at the early stages when you’re planning the arc of your story.

how to create a ted talk presentation

Step 4. One concept per slide (okay, maybe two)

To successfully make a point, you need your audience to be able to focus in and “get it.” So instead of asking a single slide to carry the load of relaying multiple concepts, put the second (or third or fourth) on their own slides. It can even make sense to relay a single concept across multiple slides. This allows the speaker to spend more time on it without losing momentum.

how to create a ted talk presentation

In some instances, you may be starting with a recycled slide your presenter happens to love—although you can see it’s relaying too many things. In such a case, ask the presenter to literally present the slide to you, and listen for the one (or maybe two) key messaging concepts they’re trying to relate. Build the new slide content to support those, and put everything else in the speaker notes.

Working with a client to distill a keynote’s story down to a few big, clarified points can be difficult work. But if we’re successful, the result is truly transformative. David Mack Co-founder, SketchDeck

Step 5. Minimalize

The slides are there to support your presenter—not to steal the show. The focus should be on speaker. Think single graphics and/or few words over phrase. Think phrase over sentence. Sentence over… (don’t even THINK about multiple sentences). You don’t want the audience to start reading, and stop listening.

The slide content is supporting the message, not relaying it. Everything on your slides should be meaningful. No placeholders, watermarks, headers or footers. If you haven’t determined this already, using your standard company presentation template probably isn’t a good idea. (Looking for an event or presentation specific presentation template? SketchDeck can help with that!)

how to create a ted talk presentation

Step 6. Maintain top quality

This is a premium presentation, and it needs to look and feel that way. No grainy photos, watermarked stock images, family snapshots, placeholder text or clip art. Just. Don’t. Do it. This is a day for Tiffany’s, not Target.

Step 7. Consider motion

Videos and animation can add a different and engaging dimension to your presentation. If done well, they offer a level of cinematic drama that can enhance the magic of a live performance.  But keep the previous steps in mind if you go this route. Every visual element needs a reason to be there. Everything must help tell the story.

Step 8. Get a great presenter

The reality is a speaker can make or break a presentation. A bad presenter can ruin a perfect presentation. And as much as it pains us to write this, a great presenter doesn’t really need slides (see Step 5 above). Therefore, if you’re presenting, practice—ideally in front of someone who will be brutally honest. You should also consider hiring a coach.

SketchDeck recommends taking the presentation to a small, controlled audience a week or so before the event to see how it delivers. Not only is it a great practice opportunity, it allows time for last minute adjustments.

And most importantly, hear feedback and adapt accordingly. If you’re not the presenter, ask whoever is to do the same. Great presenters are not born. It takes work, and the vast majority of that work is done before a speaker steps on stage.

It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. Mark Twain

The big day

The audience is rapt… pin drop silent. Elegant slides flip in perfect timing behind your delivery. You pause—at just the right point—confidently adjusting the cuffs of your black turtleneck.

“They’re mine,” you think. And you’re right.

Fired up to blow away your next audience? So are we. SketchDeck would love to partner with you to help make your next presentation TED Talk-worthy.

Additional resources

https://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks

https://synapsiscreative.com/5-best-slide-decks-tedx/

https://blog.ted.com/10-tips-for-better-slide-decks/

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Rob Lewczyk

  • Originally published on January 30, 2020

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Mastering the art of a powerful TED Talk presentation

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Anete Ezera August 08, 2023

TED Talks have become synonymous with captivating storytelling, inspiring ideas, and thought-provoking presentations. Delivering a successful TED Talk requires more than just having great content; it demands excellent presentation skills and a well-designed presentation. In this article, we’ll explore some essential tips and techniques for how to do a TED Talk presentation. We’ll delve into inspiring examples from past TED Talks, including Prezi presentations, and highlight the latest TED Talk presentations that showcase exceptional presentation skills. Whether you’re an aspiring TED speaker or simply interested in improving your presentation abilities, this article will equip you with the knowledge you need to shine on the TED stage.

Young professional woman giving presentation during a presentation night

The evolution of TED Talk presentations

TED Talks have evolved over the years, with speakers continually pushing boundaries and experimenting with new presentation styles. This section explores the evolving landscape of TED Talk presentations and how speakers have embraced innovative approaches to captivate audiences.

Unconventional presentation formats

While traditional TED Talk presentations often feature a single speaker on stage, there has been a rise in unconventional formats that add a unique twist to the storytelling experience. Some speakers have incorporated multimedia elements, interactive displays, or live demonstrations to create a more immersive and dynamic presentation. These innovative formats not only engage the audience but also leave a lasting impression.

Engaging visual storytelling techniques

Visual storytelling has always been a key aspect of TED Talk presentations, but speakers have been finding new ways to captivate their audience visually. They utilize compelling visuals, animations, and data visualizations to simplify complex concepts and enhance the impact of their message. By using innovative visual storytelling techniques, speakers can create a visually stimulating experience that keeps the audience engaged throughout their talk.

A man presenting on stage, giving a Ted Talk presentation.

Embracing technology

As technology continues to advance, TED Talk speakers have embraced its potential to enhance their presentations. From incorporating virtual reality and augmented reality elements to utilizing interactive apps and tools, speakers have found creative ways to leverage technology to immerse their audience in their ideas. These technological innovations elevate the overall experience and make TED Talks more engaging and memorable.

Collaborative and crowd-sourced talks

In recent years, TED has experimented with collaborative and crowd-sourced talks, where multiple speakers come together to present a cohesive narrative. These talks bring together diverse perspectives and foster a sense of collective storytelling. By collaborating with other experts and involving the audience in the creation process, speakers can tap into collective wisdom that enriches their presentations and brings a fresh dimension to TED Talks. If you’re planning to co-present, discover essential co-presenting tips . 

The power of micro TED Talks

Micro TED Talks, also known as TEDx Shorts , have gained popularity for their concise and impactful nature. These shorter talks, often under 10 minutes, focus on delivering a powerful message in a concentrated format. Speakers must distill their ideas to their essence, resulting in talks that are concise, thought-provoking, and easily shareable. The rise of micro TED Talks showcases the evolving preferences of audiences who value impactful content in bite-sized formats.

By embracing unconventional presentation formats, engaging visual storytelling techniques , leveraging technology, exploring collaborative approaches, and recognizing the power of micro TED Talks, speakers are pushing the boundaries of traditional TED Talk presentations. These innovative approaches demonstrate the ever-evolving nature of TED Talks and the creativity of speakers in captivating and inspiring their audiences.

An audience of people watching someone present

Amplify your TED Talk using the power of Prezi

While storytelling and engaging delivery are crucial components of a TED Talk, the visual aspect plays a significant role in amplifying the impact of your presentation. In this section, we’ll explore how Prezi , a dynamic presentation tool, can take your ted talk to the next level by enabling visually stunning and immersive storytelling experiences .

Leveraging the power of non-linear presentations

Traditional slide decks often follow a linear format, limiting the flow and creativity of the presentation. Prezi allows speakers to break free from these constraints and create non-linear presentations that offer a more fluid and engaging narrative. By utilizing zooming, panning, and path animations, speakers can guide the audience through a visual journey that enhances the storytelling experience.

Creating engaging visual metaphors

Metaphors have the power to convey complex ideas in a relatable and memorable way. With Prezi, speakers can utilize visual metaphors to make abstract concepts more tangible and accessible to the audience. By seamlessly transitioning between different visual representations, speakers can create a deeper connection and understanding of their ideas.

Incorporating multimedia elements

Prezi allows for the seamless integration of multimedia elements such as videos, images, and audio into your TED Talk presentation. By strategically incorporating these elements, speakers can enhance the emotional impact of their message, provide supporting evidence, or add a touch of creativity to captivate the audience. Thoughtful use of multimedia can evoke powerful emotions and create a multi-sensory experience. 

Amplifying data visualization

Data visualization is an effective way to present complex information in a clear and compelling manner. With Prezi’s dynamic and interactive features, speakers can transform data into engaging visuals that help the audience grasp key insights. With interactive charts and graphs, Prezi enables speakers to present data in an impactful way that enhances the overall TED Talk experience.

Enhancing collaboration and co-creation

Prezi offers collaborative features that enable speakers to involve others in the creation process. Whether it’s co-creating the presentation with a team or seeking feedback from trusted individuals, collaboration can lead to richer and more diverse perspectives. By leveraging Prezi’s collaboration tools, speakers can refine their ideas, strengthen their narrative, and ensure a more polished TED Talk presentation.

Students co presenting in a classroom.

How to take your TED Talk to the next level

Before diving into examples and the presentation tips TED Talks require, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamental elements that make a TED Talk truly remarkable. TED Talks are renowned for their captivating storytelling, brevity, and ability to connect with the audience on an emotional level. By incorporating personal anecdotes, relatable examples, and powerful metaphors, speakers can create a memorable and engaging TED Talk presentation that resonates with their listeners.

Top tips for a successful TED Talk presentation

A TED Talk is an opportunity to share unique insights and inspire audiences around the world. Here are some tips that can help you craft a compelling and memorable presentation.

Choose a topic you are passionate about

TED Talks are about sharing your passions and insights. Choose a topic that you are passionate about and that you believe will inspire and captivate your audience.

Create a strong narrative

Your talk should tell a story. Structure your presentation with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Draw in your audience with personal anecdotes and relatable experiences. 

Learn how to effectively structure your presentation in the following video:

Practice your delivery

The way you deliver your presentation can be just as important as the content itself. Practice speaking clearly and confidently, maintaining eye contact with your audience, and using your body language to convey enthusiasm and emotion.

Use visuals effectively

Using engaging visuals can greatly enhance your presentation. A tool like Prezi allows you to create dynamic, interactive TED Talk presentation slides that can add depth and richness to your narrative.

A women presenting a presentation with a school presentation theme

Steps to create an engaging TED Talk presentation

Crafting a TED Talk presentation that resonates with your audience requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some key steps to help you on this journey.

Identify your key message

What is the one key message you want your audience to take away from your talk? Identify this early on and make sure every element of your presentation supports this message.

Plan your content

Outline your presentation, ensuring you have a clear structure and flow. Make sure to include a strong introduction that captures the audience’s attention. Establish a main body where you explore your topic in-depth and add a compelling conclusion that reinforces your key message.

Design your slides

Use a tool like Prezi to create engaging and visually appealing slides. Your slides should enhance your narrative, not distract from it. Keep text minimal and use images, charts, and videos where appropriate.

Discover the best presentation design practices by watching this video:

Rehearse your talk

Practice your presentation several times to get comfortable with your content and delivery. Consider timing your rehearsal to ensure you stay within the allocated time for your talk.

Engage your audience

During your presentation, aim to engage your audience by maintaining eye contact, using appropriate body language, and inviting interaction where possible. The more engaged your audience, the more impactful your talk will be.

Inspiring TED Talk presentation examples featuring Prezi

Prezi presentations have been utilized in TED Talks to create captivating visual experiences. “Blackout: The Hidden Structures of Modern Society” by Marc Elsberg is a prime example of how Prezi can be used to unravel complex societal issues through visually engaging content. 

Another notable example, “The Air We Breathe” by Mark Turrel, employs Prezi to raise awareness about air pollution and its impact on public health. 

These TED Talks demonstrate the versatility of Prezi in enhancing the overall presentation. Discover other highly inspirational and visually capturing TED Talk Prezi presentation examples and get inspired to create your own.

Latest TED Talk presentations showcasing exceptional presentation skills

In recent years, TED Talks have continued to inspire with exceptional presentations. “A Seat at the Table” by Lilly Singh sheds light on the importance of diverse voices and inclusion. 

“The Benefits of Not Being a Jerk to Yourself” by Dan Harris delves into the significance of self-compassion. 

Furthermore, “Why Having Fun is the Secret to a Healthier Life” by Catherina Price explores the connection between joy and well-being. 

All of these TED Talk presentations showcase the power of authentic storytelling and delivery in captivating an audience. 

Learn how you can master TED Talk delivery skills by watching the following video, where we compiled and analyzed the top TED Talk presentation skills from iconic talks: 

TED Talk presentation templates for a polished outcome

To simplify the process of creating visually appealing slides, various pre-designed presentation templates are available. Utilizing templates allows speakers to focus on developing compelling content rather than starting from scratch. Prezi offers a wide range of presentation templates that align with the aesthetics and requirements of TED Talks. By utilizing these templates, speakers can achieve a polished and professional outcome.

Empowering your TED Talk journey

Mastering the art of delivering a remarkable TED Talk presentation requires a combination of storytelling expertise, effective slide design, and engaging delivery. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, drawing inspiration from impactful TED Talk examples, and utilizing Prezi presentation templates , you’ll be well on your way to creating a TED Talk that leaves a lasting impression. Embrace the TED Talk spirit, ignite your passion, and let your ideas take flight on the TED stage.

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How to do a TED Talks Presentation | 8 Tips to Make Your Presentation Better in 2024

How to do a TED Talks Presentation | 8 Tips to Make Your Presentation Better in 2024

Leah Nguyen • 08 Apr 2024 • 9 min read

When you want to find a talk on a topic you are interested in, TED Talks presentations may be the first to pop up in your mind.

Their power comes from original ideas, insightful, useful content and impressive presentation skills of the speakers. Over 90,000 presenting styles from over 90,000 speakers have been shown, and you probably have found yourself related to one of them.

Whatever the type is, there are some everyday things among TED Talks Presentations that you can keep in mind to improve your own performance!

Table of Contents

  • Make Your Audience Relate by Using Personal Stories
  • Make Your Audience Work
  • Slides are to Aid, not to Drown
  • Be Original, be You
  • Speak with Clarity
  • Shape your Body Language
  • Keep it Concise
  • Close with a Strong Remark

Key Features of TED Talks Presentations

Ted talks presentation templates, frequently asked questions.

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  • Interactive presentation – The complete guide
  • Tips on giving the right presentation outfit
  • How to avoid Death by Powerpoint
  • Multimedia presentation examples
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1. Make Your Audience Relate by Using Personal Stories

The fastest way to spur an emotional response from the audience in TED Talks Presentation is to tell a story of your own experience.

The essence of a story is its ability to invoke emotions and interaction from the listeners. Therefore by doing this, they can feel related by nature and immediately find your talk more “authentic”, and therefore are willing to listen to more from you. 

TED Talks Presentation

You can also intertwine your stories into your talk to build your opinion on the topic and present your argument persuasively. Apart from research-based evidence, you can use personal stories as a powerful tool to create a reliable, compelling presentation.

Pro tips: The ‘personal’ story should not be out of touch (for example: I’m in the 1% smartest people in the earth and make 1B per year ). Try telling your stories to friends to see if they can relate.

2. Make Your Audience Work

However interesting your speech may be, there may be times when the audience drifts their attention away from your talk for a moment. That is why you must have some activities that win back their attention and get them engaged. 

For example, a simple way to do this is to make good questions relevant to your topic, which gets them to think and find an answer. This is a common way that TED speakers use to engage their audience! The questions can be posed immediately or occasionally during the talk.

The idea is to get to know their perspectives by having them submit their answers to an online canvas like AhaSlides , where the results are updated live, and you can rely on them to discuss more in-depth. 

You can also ask them to do small acts, like close their eyes and think about an idea or an example relevant to the idea you are talking about, just like what Bruce Aylward did in his talk on “How We’ll Stop Polio for Good.”

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3. Slides are to Aid, not to Drown

Slides accompany most TED Talks Presentations, and you would rarely see a TED speaker use more-than-colourful slides full of text or numbers.

Instead, they are usually simplified in terms of decoration and content and tend to be in the form of graphs, images or videos.

This helps draw the audience’s attention to the content that the speaker is referring to and flatter the idea they are trying to convey. You can make use of it too!

TED Talks Presentation - Visualisation is the point

Visualisation is the point here. You can convert text and numbers into charts or graphs and utilise images, videos, and GIFs. Interactive slides can also help you connect with the audience.

One reason the audience is distracted is their having no clue about the structure of your talk and feel discouraged to follow until the end.

You can solve this with the “Audience Pacing” feature of AhaSlides , in which the audience can pave back and forth to know all the content of your slides and always be on track and get ready for your upcoming insights!

4. Be Original, be You

This has to do with your presenting style, HOW you convey your ideas, and WHAT you deliver.

You can see this clearly in TED Talks Presentation, where one speaker’s ideas could be similar to others, but what matters is how they view it from another perspective and develop it in their own way.

The audience will not want to listen to an old topic with an old approach that hundreds of others might have chosen.

Think about how you can make a difference and add your individuality to your speech to bring valuable content to the audience.

One topic, thousands of ideas, thousands of styles

5. Speak with Clarity

You don’t have to possess a mesmerising voice that put the audience in a trance, but projecting it to be clear will be much appreciated.

By “clear”, we mean that the audience can hear and figure out what you said for at least 90%.

Skilled communicators have reliable voices, despite any nervous or anxious emotions they may experience.

In TED Talks presentation, you can see there are barely any muffled sounds. All messages are communicated in a crystal clear tone.

The good thing is, you can train your voice to be better!

Vocal and speech coaches and even AI training apps could help, from how to breathe properly to how to place your tongue when enunciating, they greatly improve your tone, pace and volume in the long run.

You can use the help of AI to train your voice for TED Talks Presentation

6. Shape Your Body Language

Non-verbal expression has 65% to 93% more influence than actual text, so the way you carry out yourself really matters!

In your next TED Talks Presentation, remember to stand up straight with your shoulders back and head up. Avoid slouching or leaning against the podium. This projects confidence and engages the audience.

Use open, welcoming gestures with your hands like keeping them unclenched at your sides or palms facing up in a shrug.

Move around the stage purposefully as you speak to signal enthusiasm for your topic. Avoid fidgeting, pacing back and forth or touching your face excessively.

Speak from the heart with real passion and conviction that your big idea matters. When your own enthusiasm is genuine, it becomes contagious and pulls listeners in.

Pause for effect by going still and silent between key points. Motionless posture commands the audience’s attention and allows them time to process your information, and also allows you time to think of the next point.

Take a big, noticeable breath before launching into a new section of your talk. The physical action helps signal a transition to the audience.

It’s easy to say than to talk, but if you take into consideration that we are humans full of lively movements and expressions, which differentiate us from robots, we can allow our bodies to express freely in TED Talks Presentation.

Tips: Asking open-ended questions helps you to grab more audience opinions, which works perfectly fine with a suitable brainstorming tool !

how to create a ted talk presentation

7. Keep it Concise

We have the tendency to think our presentation points are inadequate and often elaborate more than we should.

Aim for around 18 minutes like in TED Talks Presentations, which is more than enough considering how distracting we are in this modern world.

Create an outline with main sections and time yourself to stay within the time limit as you practice and refine your talk. You can consider following this timeline format:

  • 3 minutes – Tell a story with simple, concrete narratives and anecdotes.
  • 3 minutes – Get to the main idea and key points.
  • 9 minutes – Elaborate on these key points and relate a personal story that highlights your main idea.
  • 3 minutes – Wrap up and spend time interacting with the audience, possibly with a live Q&A .

Foster an environment of density and richness within the constraints of a brief time limit.

Pare down your content to only what’s essential. Delete unnecessary details, tangents and filler words.

Focus on quality over quantity. A few well-crafted examples are more powerful than a laundry list of facts in TED Talks Presentations.

TED Talk Presentation - Keep your talk under 18 minutes

8. Close with a Strong Remark

Believe it or not, your goal for perfect TED Talks Presentations goes beyond just sharing interesting information. As you craft your talk, consider the transformation you want to ignite in your listeners.

What thoughts do you want to plant in their minds? What emotions do you wish to stir within them? What actions do you hope they will be inspired to take when they leave the auditorium?

Your call to action can be as simple as asking the audience to view your central topic in a new light.

The very premise of TED talks presentations is that ideas worth spreading are those worth acting upon.

Without a clear call to action, your talk may be intriguing but ultimately indifferent to your listeners. With a call to action, you trigger a mental reminder that change is needed.

Your firm and focused call to action is the exclamation point signalling that something must now be done – and your listeners are the ones who should take that step.

So don’t just inform your audience, push them to see the world anew and move them to take action that aligns with your important idea!

TED Talk Presentation - A strong CTA welcomes the audience to take action

  • Simplicity: TED slides are visually uncluttered. They focus on a single, powerful image or a few impactful words. This keeps the audience focused on the speaker’s message.

how to create a ted talk presentation

  • Visual support: Images, diagrams, or short videos are used strategically. They reinforce the core idea discussed by the speaker, not just decorate.
  • Impactful typography: Fonts are large and easy to read from the back of a room. Text is kept minimal, emphasizing keywords or core concepts.
  • High contrast: Often there’s a high contrast between text and background, making the slides visually striking and easy to read even at a distance.

Make it fun! Add interactive features !

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Want to deliver a TED Talk-style presentation that lingers in audience’s minds? AhaSlides has a plethora of free templates and a dedicated library for users like you! Check them out below:

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Key takeaways.

The key is to distil your big idea down to its essence, tell a story to illustrate it and speak extemporaneously with natural passion and enthusiasm. Practice, practice, practice.

It’s not easy to be a master presenter, but practice these 8 tips so often that you can make big progress in your presentation skills! Let AhaSlides be with you on the way there!

What is a TED talk presentation?

A TED talk is a short, powerful presentation given at TED conferences and related events. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.

How do you make a TED talk presentation?

By following these steps – focusing on your big idea, telling relevant stories, keeping it short, rehearsing thoroughly and speaking confidently – you’ll be well on your way to delivering an effective, impactful TED talk presentation.

What is the difference between a TED talk and a standard presentation?

TED talks are designed to be: shorter, more concise and focused; told in a visually engaging and narrative-driven way; and delivered in an on-the-spot, inspiring manner that provokes thought and spreads important ideas.

Do TED Talks have presentations?

Yes, TED Talks are actually short presentations given at TED conferences and other TED-related events.

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Leah Nguyen

Words that convert, stories that stick. I turn complex ideas into engaging narratives - helping audiences learn, remember, and take action.

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How to Prepare A TED Talk: The Complete Guide for Stage Success

At Thought-Leader, we’ve worked with hundreds of professionals across the globe. While they’ve all placed significant effort into building their businesses, they often find themselves confused and frustrated when hoping to land a spot on the TEDx stage. That’s because writing, memorizing, and delivering a stellar TED experience is different than any other speech or presentation you’ve ever given. Speech writing training is an essential part of this process.

How to Write A TED Talk

One of the common frustrations we hear from aspiring TED speakers is writing their talk. So often, these individuals feel overwhelmed by multiple thoughts and overshadowed by existing ideas. If left unchecked, these feelings of overwhelm can lead to self-doubt and keep you from hitting your TED talk goals.

TED talk preparation is less about creating the next biggest thing and more about overcoming the self-doubt that keeps you from reaching your goals. Therefore, one of the first steps you can take to write a TED talk is not to give up. You can also partner with TED-style speaker coaches to hold yourself accountable and reach your writing goals.

How To Write A TED Talk Script

Writing a TED talk script is often the dread of many aspiring speakers. After all, if writing doesn’t come naturally to you, a script might be the most significant hurdle you face in your speaking career. Yet, while many of our clients initially express this same fear to us, they often leave our talk-writing intensives satisfied with a written script in hand.

So, how do they do it? They follow a 3-step process we’ve created to help speakers reach their TEDx goals. Here’s a brief overview of what that process looks like:

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Identify Your Idea

Decide on the main point you’re trying to make by giving your talk.

Select Your Stories

Select your stories that support or illustrate your main point and establish an emotional connection with the audience.

Create A Call-To-Action

Leave the audience with something they can do to take action in their lives immediately.

How to Write A Ted Talk Speech

Once you have your script written, it’s time to focus on your speech. Now you might be asking yourself what’s the difference between a ted talk script and a ted talk speech. The main difference is that a script is written to be read by others, whereas a speech is written to be spoken to an audience.

For example, you write your TED talk script for the event organizer you submit it to. They need a scripted version of your talk to know the details you will speak on. There aren’t emotional cues or other personalized messages involved. Meanwhile, your TED talk speech is for you more than anything. It serves as a guide so you can speak to the audience.

When writing a TED talk speech, you might include places to pause for audience feedback or hand gestures to use. Consider the role breathing plays in giving a speech and make sure to write in pauses for breath. You can also add memorization notes to help you when practicing your speech.

Preparing A TED Presentation

When you’re prepping to talk at TED or a TEDx event, you must consider the various presentation elements involved in giving a stellar performance. Things like body language, slides, and other visual aids can make or break your connection with your audience. So, let’s dive into how you can utilize these elements to affect the inner workings of your presentation.

Ted Talk Body Language

Have you ever watched low-scoring films where the actor’s movements didn’t seem to align with their statements? Perhaps a baseball coach was too stiff while giving a pep talk, or a kid couldn’t convey fear, which made the entire scene awkward.

Now think about your favorite tv show or movie. Consider how the actors aligned with their character’s message. One that comes to mind is the #2 Worldwide Box Office hit Avengers End Game. Actor Robert Downy Jr. knew his role as Iron Man was important to the film’s integrity. His heavy breathing, stoic expression, and pause in between the words, “And I…….am …Iron Man,” set the scene for the film’s ending. Knowing his character was going to die using up its energy to defeat villain Thanos, Downy’s use of body language and vocal expression makes the entire ending battle of the film.

As you’re prepping for your talk, it’s essential to think about body language’s role in delivering a speech. Take time to pause in between critical points so your audience has time to resonate with your message. You can also change your voice’s pitch as you transition between emotional sections of your speech. To learn even more about the role body language plays in who you are, consider checking out this TED talk by Amy Cuddy.

TED Talk Slides

Some of the most popular TED speakers use Powerpoint slides to deliver their messages. While the number of slides isn’t an indicator of success, the usage of slides in general is. Here are a few of the most viral TED talks that use slides along with their total number of views:

The Super Mario Effect – Tricking Your Brain into Learning More – 11,482,130 views Intermediate Fasting: A Transformational Technique – 10,079,396 views Waking Up As A Meme Hero – 7,392,226 views

Source: 15 Things We Learned From Analyzing The Top 100 TEDx Talks

When you’re thinking about adding slides or graphics to your TED Talk, consider how they will enhance the critical points of your presentation. For example, our client and popular TEDx speaker Cynthia Thurlow uses a few slides to showcase her data. This data adds to the credibility of her speech and makes her message stand out that much more.

Virtual TED Talks

Virtual TED or TEDx talks have risen in popularity since the 2020 pandemic, and we don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. If you’re chosen to give a virtual TED Talk, it’s your lucky day. Unlike the pressure associated with giving a TED talk or TEDx presentation in front of a live audience, a virtual TED talk is pre-filmed in front of a green screen.

When preparing for a virtual talk, it’s vital to get an idea of the type of green screen you’ll be standing in front of ahead of time. In addition, knowing the theme of the screen background helps you coordinate your outfit so you don’t clash or blend in with your surroundings.

Since you’ll be on video, it also might be helpful for you to hire a videographer to film you ahead of time so you can practice in front of a camera ahead of time. You can review your recordings for areas of improvement and find ways to add more body language or facial expressions while remaining focused on the camera.

TED Talk Coaching Webinar

TED Talk: How to Practice

Once your talk is written, and your presentation is ready to go, it’s time to practice your talk until you’re blue in the face. Okay, we don’t recommend you turn blue. Layering breathing in your speech is an integral part of practicing your talk. But, we do want you to practice effectively. So here are some tips we’ve outlined that can help you do just that.

1. Use Muscle Memory

Often individuals look at memorization and practice as the repetition of words. If this is you, you might get hyperfocused on memorizing a line word for word. As a result, you don’t often move around or incorporate your body into memorization.

When preparing for a TED talk, you want to work towards muscle memorization. As opposed to mental memorization, muscle memorization involves using your body language to help you memorize. For example, combine speaking words out loud while moving around. This repetition of an action helps you remember where you were when you memorized a sentence. So, when it comes time to give your speech, you can picture yourself in the place and movement you had when you memorized a particular section.

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2. Focus On A Central Thought

Another important way to practice giving a TED talk is to zoom out the words you’re memorizing and focus on a central thought. It’s not a sequence of words that allows you to memorize something, but rather the flow of thoughts that make things click. Therefore, you need to define a section of your speech based on the topic or central thought and focus on that concept when saying words.

When you memorize ten clear thoughts with a pattern, you can pull out the words based on their connection to the central idea. This working of our brains becomes easier and more retainable than word for word focus.

3. Condition Your Body Using Playful Expression

When preparing for a speech, it’s easy to focus exclusively in your headspace, with little regard for your heart space. However, when you wrote your TED script, you didn’t write it to be read. Instead, you wrote it to be heard. Therefore, To deliver your talk successfully, you need to activate a relationship between body, breath, and voice.

If you’re a champion sprinter, you’re not going to get on the track until you’ve warmed up your legs and body. Similarly, a TED talk is 15 to18 minutes long, which takes stamina. Therefore, you have to condition your body so that your body is prepped to rise to the occasion when you deliver the talk.

To condition, your body for a TED talk presentation, get out of the habit of rigid movements. Instead, practice your talk with uncontrolled, dynamic movements and vocals. This playful physical expression gets the body active and works in unison. When you practice outside of your comfort zone, you can easily talk in front of an audience.

Information

Focus On One Major Idea:

Note: For more information on effective practicing, consider watching this TED-Ed video by Annie Bosler and Don Greene.

Planning A TED Talk

Your planning process can begin now that you know what it takes to prepare for a TED talk. Consider the various suggestions we’ve listed above before preparing for your talk and let them guide you in your presentation creation process. Our TED coaching services can guide you in the right direction.

Think about the role self-doubt may have in keeping you from your goals, and give it a kick in the butt. Remind yourself of why you want to get on the TED stage and use that passion to drive your writing process forward. Anticipate what event organizers want in a script vs. what you need to deliver in a speech.

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Check out more great articles from the Thought-Leader Blog covering TEDx Talks, success mindsets, and everything else in between

How to Get a TED Talk

How to prepare a ted talk, how to market yourself effectively, how to become a keynote speaker, how to speak professionally.

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How to Give a Killer Presentation

  • Chris Anderson

how to create a ted talk presentation

For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:

  • Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
  • Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
  • Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
  • Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
  • Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).

According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.

Lessons from TED

A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”

  • CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.

how to create a ted talk presentation

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7 TED Talks on how to improve your presentations

CIO Events 3

It’s a hard truth of the digital age: Capturing and keeping another person’s attention is getting more difficult. While the empirical evidence on the average person's attention span during a presentation is limited, the phrase "death by PowerPoint" rings all too true. IT leaders know from experience that audiences lack patience for ineffective speakers. That’s why it’s more important than ever for all of us to be thoughtful about how to deliver information.

[ Which IT roles are vanishing? Read our article,  4 dying IT jobs . ]

Thankfully for CIOs and other leaders in training, there are abundant tips from skilled presenters on how to elevate your performance before your next appearance – on stage at a conference, before the board or executive team, or even in front of your own organization. This no-nonsense advice will help you win – and keep – your audience.

1. The secret structure of great talks

Speaker: Nancy Duarte

Why do we sit with rapt attention listening to a compelling story yet find ourselves nodding off during most presentations? Communication expert Nancy Duarte spent time digging into the best stories from history, cinema, and literature – and also suffering through some of the worst presentations she could get her hands on – to explore the differences and come up with a winning model for great presentations. In this talk, Duarte explores the secrets and structures of the greatest communicators and their public speaking efforts – from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech to Steve Job’s public unveiling of the iPhone. She shares with the audience the common storytelling structure utilized by compelling presenters that you can apply to your next effort.

2. The beauty of data visualization

Speaker: David McCandless

Data is the lifeblood of IT, the business, and many an IT leader presentation. But on its own, data can be lifeless – or worse, ineffective or misleading.

British data journalist David McCandless is skilled at transforming complex data sets into engaging data visualizations that are not only lovely to look at but also instantly bring to life the stories within the data. Data is not the new oil, he says, but the new soil – “a fertile, creative medium” – if you know how to manipulate and design it. McCandless shares his tips for visualizing information so that an audience can see the patterns and connections that matter.

3. How to speak so that people want to listen

Speaker: Julian Treasure

The first thing IT leaders consider when preparing for a presentation might be the visuals, the words, or even the best outfit to wear – all important components. But they may be overlooking one of the most important instruments in their toolkits: Their voices. Sound and communication expert (and five-time TED speaker) Julian Treasure argues that what you say may be less important than how you say it, and outlines some of the most important aspects of vocal delivery.

4. Your body language may shape who you are

Speaker: Amy Cuddy

With nearly 50 million views, social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s now well-known TED Global 2012 Talk can help IT leaders harness another important aspect of presenting: body language. Her talk is not simply about how body language impacts how others see us, but also how we see ourselves. In this video, IT leaders can learn all about the “power pose” – a way of standing confidently like Superman or Wonder Woman. While there was some criticism of the science behind Cuddy’s research about power positions and their impact on hormones, which she has since refuted, IT leaders can try the posing advice out for themselves before stepping on the stage or into the boardroom.

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Home > Blog > Speaking 101 > How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps

How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps

Taylorr Payne

Taylorr Payne

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Within the speaking industry, there’s more than one way to make it to the top. The most obvious path is the numbers game, in which you speak at as many events as possible. On the other hand, the second option for gaining prestige is by first doing so in your focus industry. For example, if you work in finance, you would climb the latter within the finance industry first. From there, you would branch into speaking as a secondary profession before eventually speaking full-time. In many cases, it is this route that leads to an invitation for a TEDx or TED event. As a result, learning how to write a TED talk can be a bit less structured than writing a normal speech. 

That said, although writing a TED talk can be a challenge, the benefits of speaking for TED events far outnumber the trials. Not only are they a stellar addition to your resume. They’re also a highly publicized and easily accessible way for you to share your message. Unlike in-person events, because TED talks are also available for free online, giving one allows you to reach people and groups that might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear you speak. Together, these benefits supplement your credibility and increase your exposure, aiding in that climb to the top of the speaking industry.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about how to write a TED talk that absolutely blows your audience away. Although, in this guide, we’ll focus on the seven steps below, feel free to check out our companion blog, “ What Is A TED Talk? The Fundamentals of TED Explained ” for more information about the TED Organization.

Choose a topic you care about. 

Topic You Care About Graphic for How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps - SpeakerFlow

First and foremost, a great TED talk demands a great topic. As a rule, when choosing your topic, there are four questions to answer. The first, as recommended by the TED organization, is “Is my idea new?” Here, the goal is to either choose a completely new idea or put a new spin on an older idea. Likewise, the second question asks, “Is my idea interesting?” Regardless of your topic’s age, you need to demand attention. Dr. Guy Winch’s 2019 TED Talk , for instance, is a perfect example of this. As a psychologist and speaker , Dr. Winch takes the common idea of work/life balance and makes it relevant to the modern practice of telecommuting. 

That brings me to the third question to keep in mind when you write a TED talk: “Is my idea factual and realistic?” Besides capturing the audience’s attention, you also want to inspire them to action. In Dr. Winch’s talk, he suggests building a metaphorical barrier between your work life and personal life. Ultimately, there are a few ways he recommends doing this, but each way is achievable immediately. Similarly, as you choose your topic, keep in mind that although your idea can be big, the actions you inspire in the audience have to be smaller-scale and realistic.

Lastly, within the SpeakerFlow team, there’s a fourth question we recommend asking yourself as you write a TED talk: “Do I care about my idea?” Unsurprisingly, the more passionate you are about your topic, the easier it will be to write your talk. You’ll also be more confident about the topic, as a whole, making you more confident and comfortable on stage. Plus, if you’re passionate about your idea, the more likely it will be that you can answer “yes” to each of the questions above. 

Craft your message around that topic, and keep it clear and concise. 

Clear and Concise Graphic for How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps - SpeakerFlow

The next step, after choosing a topic for your TED talk, is crafting a clear and concise message around it. At most, TED talks run 20 minutes total, some as short as 10 minutes. There are two reasons for this design, the first of which is for the audience. As seen with students throughout the world, there are many factors that contribute to people’s attention spans. In light of this, the more concise your talk, the less likely audience members’ focus will stray. The other reason TED talks are kept short is to test your speaking ability. Since the TED Conference was first hosted in 1984 , their mission has been to “change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world” through the ideas of their speakers. That means each TED speaker has to be exceptionally knowledgeable in their focus industry and able to explain their knowledge on a variety of levels. 

Depending on your topic, this may be easier said than done, especially if you’re discussing a complex subject. This is another reason to choose a topic you are passionate about. In most cases, the more you care about something, the more you know. Because of this, the more easily you’ll be able to identify the most important things the audience needs to know. You’ll also have an easier time when you write a TED talk, as each of these things can serve as a part of your speech. It’s almost like drafting a five-paragraph essay, as a high school student. The introduction and conclusion take care of two paragraphs, leaving three to outline yourself. When you write a TED talk, the same outline applies on a larger scale, and the most important pieces of your message are those body paragraphs. 

Define a key takeaway for the audience. 

Key Takeaway Graphic for How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps - SpeakerFlow

After outlining the important bullet points to cover in your TED talk, the next piece of the puzzle is defining a key takeaway for your audience. In our essay analogy, this is like the thesis statement in your opening paragraph. In short, it needs to answer the question, “What sentence or phrase should the audience remember when they leave?” If you’re not sure how to define your thesis, the team at Ethos3 put it perfectly in one of their guides from 2018. In it, they recommended to write a TED talk and then sum it up in a single sentence. Although it sounds difficult, this ultimately forces you to narrow your message as much as possible. This makes it easier for the audience to remember your talk and gives you a reference point as you draft it. 

More inspiration can also be found in video titles in the library of past TED talks or on the TED YouTube channel . Some of my personal favorites include “ Dangerous times call for dangerous women ” by Pat Mitchell and “ To help solve global problems, look to developing countries ” by Bright Simons. In each of these examples, there’s enough information to see what the speaker’s main topic is and get an idea of their argument. Likewise, your key takeaway should be engaging and succinct. Think of it like you’re designing it to be a mini version of your main idea, and remember the questions we covered earlier. Is it new, interesting, factual, and realistic? Can I passionately back it up? If your key takeaway can answer these with a “yes,” you’re all set for the next piece of the puzzle. 

Draft your TED talk as a story. 

Story Graphic for How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps - SpeakerFlow

At this point, you should be all set to write a TED talk. With your main arguments outlined and your key takeaway narrowed down, all that’s left is to add the entertainment aspect. This is largely where you can bring in your personal style and really make the TED talk your own. If you’re an experienced speaker, although TED talks are unique, you probably already have this nailed down. 

On the other hand, if you’re a new speaker and still a little nervous about this, no worries! Learning to write a TED talk is like learning to write any speech in one way more than any other: the importance of stories. In addition to including facts and evidence, there are a handful of less structured ways to make your speech more of a story than a lecture. This not only makes you more relatable to members of the audience. It’s also yet another way to make your TED talk more engaging. After all, everyone loves a good story, right? 

Some of the simplest ways to write a TED talk as a story are outlined by Disney film writer and director Andrew Stanton . Overall, one of the greatest tips he has can be found in his own TED talk from 2012: “Use what you know. Draw from it. It doesn’t always mean plot or fact. It means capturing a truth from your experiencing it, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core.” In short, your speech should have a beginning, middle, and end like a story, but it should also be personal. Your audience is full of people just like you, so although being a little emotional might feel scary, it also makes you easier to connect with. If you can make ‘em laugh, too, that’s an added bonus. 👏

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Tailor your visual aids to your audience, your story, and your brand. 

Consistent Branding Graphic for How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps - SpeakerFlow

Besides the verbal aspects of your TED talk, you may want to consider a visual component, as well. In many of the examples we’ve touched on, this means a slideshow presentation to play behind you as you speak. Depending on the depth of your topic and the length of your talk, the complexity of your slideshow may vary. That said, it’s important to remember to keep things simple. The goal of the slides is to add to what you’re saying, not distract from it. Knowing this, as you create your visual aids, try to avoid gifs or images that could be distracting or disturbing. Conversely, take note of the less intriguing parts of your speech, too. Then, design your slides to include a visual aid or two during these points. That way, you can keep everyone engaged for necessary information, even if it’s not exciting. 

The other piece to keep in mind, as you write a TED talk, is branding. On any visual aids in your speech, be sure your style is consistent with your spoken language and your brand. For example, if you’re speaking about how to handle grief, steer clear of a slide show with holographic gifs or a hot pink outfit. Again, the goal of visual aids is to add to your message and your stage persona. That means each piece of your TED talk – clothes, body language, wording, cadence, visual aids – works together to convey your message. As you wrap up the drafting part of preparing for a TED talk, keep this in mind. 

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice Graphic for How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps - SpeakerFlow

The final step in the pre-event steps to write a TED talk is a simple one: Practice, practice, practice. In front of as many people as you can, rehearse your speech and iterate as needed. Even as an experienced speaker, there could be ticks or bad habits that you may not notice but your audience will. Take one of my college professors, for example – We’ll call her Ms. Smith. Although Ms. Smith was a font of knowledge when it came to microbiology, she unknowingly was an incredibly distracting speaker. This was largely due to her constant gesticulating and the drama with which she moved her hands as she spoke. Obviously, for her students, this made it hard to follow her, but I’m sure to this day, she doesn’t even realize she does it. 

To sum up, when you write a TED talk and start practicing, learn from Ms. Smith and have someone watch you present. Not only can they catch any habits distracting from your speech. They can also provide their own perspective on your body language or the structure of your presentation. All in all, you’re giving a TED talk for the benefit of the audience, in-person and online. What better way to make sure you reach that audience than to practice with a few “test’ audiences beforehand?

Remember it’s okay to show your flaws. 

Flaws Graphic for How To Write A TED Talk In 7 Easy Steps - SpeakerFlow

Lastly, as you write a TED talk, remember you don’t have to be perfect. Obviously, we all want to nail everything about our presentation, from our clothes to our body language to the words themselves. However, even if you’ve spoken thousands of times before, it’s normal to be nervous or slip up. In fact, tons of past TED speakers have felt the same. Just remember, in the words of artist (and TED speaker) Janice Tanton , “Fear is just a misguided form of creativity.” You entered the speaking industry because of your creativity and passion, so anything that you see as a flaw just makes you all the more memorable for your audience. Plus, if you do slip up on stage, being able to laugh at yourself helps connect you to your audience, too.

In conclusion, there are countless speaker awards and certifications out there that demonstrate how great a speaker you are and how much experience you have. The same validation also comes from speaking for the TED organization. Whether you appear at a small TEDx event or the yearly TED conference itself, having TED on your resume gives decision-makers their answer immediately. In other words, seeing that you’ve given a TED talk makes them more likely to hire you! 

So, this year, as you either write a TED talk for an upcoming event or simply work to gain the TED Organization’s attention, remember this checklist. Feel free to also check out TED’s illustrated preparation guide or TEDx speaker guide , for tips and tricks from the TED Organization itself. 

Have a TED talk in the books already? Let us know! Here at SpeakerFlow, we’re all about real connections with real people, and we’d love to give you and your TED talk a shoutout. 😊🎉

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How-To Geek

6 ways to create more interactive powerpoint presentations.

Engage your audience with cool, actionable features.

Quick Links

  • Add a QR code
  • Embed Microsoft Forms (Education or Business Only)
  • Embed a Live Web Page
  • Add Links and Menus
  • Add Clickable Images to Give More Info
  • Add a Countdown Timer

We've all been to a presentation where the speaker bores you to death with a mundane PowerPoint presentation. Actually, the speaker could have kept you much more engaged by adding some interactive features to their slideshow. Let's look into some of these options.

1. Add a QR code

Adding a QR code can be particularly useful if you want to direct your audience to an online form, website, or video.

Some websites have in-built ways to create a QR code. For example, on Microsoft Forms , when you click "Collect Responses," you'll see the QR code option via the icon highlighted in the screenshot below. You can either right-click the QR code to copy and paste it into your presentation, or click "Download" to add it to your device gallery to insert the QR code as a picture.

In fact, you can easily add a QR code to take your viewer to any website. On Microsoft Edge, right-click anywhere on a web page where there isn't already a link, and left-click "Create QR Code For This Page."

You can also create QR codes in other browsers, such as Chrome.

You can then copy or download the QR code to use wherever you like in your presentation.

2. Embed Microsoft Forms (Education or Business Only)

If you plan to send your PPT presentation to others—for example, if you're a trainer sending step-by-step instruction presentation, a teacher sending an independent learning task to your students, or a campaigner for your local councilor sending a persuasive PPT to constituents—you might want to embed a quiz, questionnaire, pole, or feedback survey in your presentation.

In PowerPoint, open the "Insert" tab on the ribbon, and in the Forms group, click "Forms". If you cannot see this option, you can add new buttons to the ribbon .

As at April 2024, this feature is only available for those using their work or school account. We're using a Microsoft 365 Personal account in the screenshot below, which is why the Forms icon is grayed out.

Then, a sidebar will appear on the right-hand side of your screen, where you can either choose a form you have already created or opt to craft a new form.

Now, you can share your PPT presentation with others , who can click the fields and submit their responses when they view the presentation.

3. Embed a Live Web Page

You could always screenshot a web page and paste that into your PPT, but that's not a very interactive addition to your presentation. Instead, you can embed a live web page into your PPT so that people with access to your presentation can interact actively with its contents.

To do this, we will need to add an add-in to our PPT account .

Add-ins are not always reliable or secure. Before installing an add-in to your Microsoft account, check that the author is a reputable company, and type the add-in's name into a search engine to read reviews and other users' experiences.

To embed a web page, add the Web Viewer add-in ( this is an add-in created by Microsoft ).

Go to the relevant slide and open the Web Viewer add-in. Then, copy and paste the secure URL into the field box, and remove https:// from the start of the address. In our example, we will add a selector wheel to our slide. Click "Preview" to see a sample of the web page's appearance in your presentation.

This is how ours will look.

When you or someone with access to your presentation views the slideshow, this web page will be live and interactive.

4. Add Links and Menus

As well as moving from one slide to the next through a keyboard action or mouse click, you can create links within your presentation to direct the audience to specific locations.

To create a link, right-click the outline of the clickable object, and click "Link."

In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, click "Place In This Document," choose the landing destination, and click "OK."

What's more, to make it clear that an object is clickable, you can use action buttons. Open the "Insert" tab on the ribbon, click "Shape," and then choose an appropriate action button. Usefully, PPT will automatically prompt you to add a link to these shapes.

You might also want a menu that displays on every slide. Once you have created the menu, add the links using the method outlined above. Then, select all the items, press Ctrl+C (copy), and then use Ctrl+V to paste them in your other slides.

5. Add Clickable Images to Give More Info

Through PowerPoint's animations, you can give your viewer the power to choose what they see and when they see it. This works nicely whether you're planning to send your presentation to others to run through independently or whether you're presenting in front of a group and want your audience to decide which action they want to take.

Start by creating the objects that will be clickable (trigger) and the items that will appear (pop-up).

Then, select all the pop-ups together. When you click "Animations" on the ribbon and choose an appropriate animation for the effect you want to achieve, this will be applied to all objects you have selected.

The next step is to rename the triggers in your presentation. To do this, open the "Home" tab, and in the Editing group, click "Select", and then "Selection Pane."

With the Selection Pane open, select each trigger on your slide individually, and rename them in the Selection Pane, so that they can be easily linked to in the next step.

Finally, go back to the first pop-up. Open the "Animations" tab, and in the Advanced Animation group, click the "Trigger" drop-down arrow. Then, you can set the item to appear when a trigger is clicked in your presentation.

If you want your item to disappear when the trigger is clicked again, select the pop-up, click "Add Animation" in the Advanced Animation group, choose an Exit animation, and follow the same step to link that animation to the trigger button.

6. Add a Countdown Timer

A great way to get your audience to engage with your PPT presentation is to keep them on edge by adding a countdown timer. Whether you're leading a presentation and want to let your audience stop to discuss a topic, or running an online quiz with time-limit questions, having a countdown timer means your audience will keep their eye on your slide throughout.

To do this, you need to animate text boxes or shapes containing your countdown numbers. Choose and format a shape and type the highest number that your countdown clock will need. In our case, we're creating a 10-second timer.

Now, with your shape selected, open the "Animations" tab on the ribbon and click the animation drop-down arrow. Then, in the Exit menu, click "Disappear."

Open the Animation Pane, and click the drop-down arrow next to the animation you've just added. From there, choose "Timing."

Make sure "On Click" is selected in the Start menu, and change the Delay option to "1 second," before clicking "OK."

Then, with this shape still selected, press Ctrl+C (copy), and then Ctrl+V (paste). In the second box, type 9 . With the Animation Pane still open and this second shape selected, click the drop-down arrow and choose "Timing" again. Change the Start option to "After Previous," and make sure the Delay option is 1 second. Then, click "OK."

We can now use this second shape as our template, as when we copy and paste it again, the animations will also duplicate. With this second shape selected, press Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, type 8 into the box, and continue to do the same until you get to 0 .

Next, remove the animations from the "0" box, as you don't want this to disappear. To do this, click the shape, and in the Animation Pane drop-down, click "Remove."

You now need to layer them in order. Right-click the box containing number 1, and click "Bring To Front." You will now see that box on the top. Do the same with the other numbers in ascending order.

Finally, you need to align the objects together. Click anywhere on your slide and press Ctrl+A. Then, in the Home tab on the ribbon, click "Arrange." First click "Align Center," and then bring the menu up again, so that you can click "Align Middle."

Press Ctrl+A again to select your timer, and you can then move your timer or copy and paste it elsewhere.

Press F5 to see the presentation in action, and when you get to the slide containing the timer, click anywhere on the slide to see your countdown timer in action!

Now that your PPT presentation is more interactive, make sure you've avoided these eight common presentational mistakes before you present your slides.

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