Deliver a TED Talk 

TED is a non-profit organization with the goal of spreading ideas through inspiring presentations. TED Talks are delivered at conferences all over the world and uploaded onto the TED Talks website. TED is an acronym for technology, education and design, and TED Talks cover topics ranging from how to use a paper towel to nuclear fusion.  

While the majority of TED talks are given by adults, many kids and teens have given brilliant TED Talks. Even if you don't picture yourself giving the next big speech, the rules of a TED talk can be applied to any presentation. Try taking the TED approach for your next school presentation, and you'll be glad you did. 

What makes a good TED Talk?

The organizers of TED conferences send speakers a document called the TED Commandments that outline the rules of a good talk. You can search for the original document or use this adapted checklist:

  • Make your talk original. Find a new angle for talking about your topic rather than citing standard facts.
  • Thing big. Consider how you might change the world, or at least some portion of it. 
  • Talk about your personal interest in the subject. Tell a brief story about yourself.
  • Include the opinions and ideas of others in your talk. If you disagree with those opinions, discuss why.
  • Don't try to sound too smart. If you conducted an experiment that failed, talk about it. If there are ideas you are struggling with, tell your audience about your struggles.
  • Laughter is good. Include something funny in your presentation. Find a humorous spin to apply to your topic or to your own research. Or laugh about your mistakes. 
  • Don't read from a printout of your speech. Memorize as much as you can. Use notes only to remind yourself of your main points so that you can speak naturally. 
  • Stick to your time limits. A typical TED Talk is no longer than 18 minutes. School presentations are likely to be shorter. When you adhere to your time limit, you have a better chance of holding the interest of your audience.

Now that you know the rules of a TED talk, it's time to consider the steps for creating a successful TED talk:

  1. Prepare. Watch TED Talks online, particularly any that relate to your topic. Research your topic thoroughly. The more you know about your topic, the more natural you will be when delivering your presentation. 
  2. Plan. Your talk will need an introduction, body and conclusion. For  your introduction, figure out how you can present your topic in a manner that will interest your audience. You can use a personal story to hook your readers, or you can present teaser information about how your take on the idea can change the world. The body of your talk will cover the details of your main idea. For your conclusion, review the key points from the body of your presentation and summarize the big idea. A good conclusion provides either a solution to a problem or something for your audience to think about. 
  3. Create visuals. Slides, photos, posters and props can make a good presentation great. If you decide to use slides, do not include the text for your presentation in the slides. Use visuals that add to the presentation. Find things that you can't convey with words alone. 
  4. Practice. And then practice some more. Deliver your talk to your family and friends. Practice until you can speak naturally on your topic. 
  5. Critique. When you deliver your talk, have it filmed so that you can critique it and find areas for improvement for your next presentation. 

Want more tips for your next presentation? Check out the Student Page for tips on speaking, writing and getting by in school.