How to Write a TED Talk like a Pro

Whether you’re a seasoned speaker or a novice, you can write a speech up to par with a TED Talk. The following tips and techniques will help you discover your primary message and write precisely what you want to convey for a killer presentation that will resonate with your audience long after it’s over.

Choose a Topic That You Have a Unique Perspective On

The internet is supersaturated with ideas that have been discussed, analyzed, and picked apart to death. You want your TED Talk to connect. Choose a topic that you have a unique perspective on. That doesn’t mean you have to pick an idea that no one’s ever discussed before. It just means that your take on it should be unique. Maybe you’ve found that, despite all of the buzz, a new trend or technology isn’t all that it’s cracked out to be. Similarly to writing a great article, it’s all about finding a new and compelling angle.

Find Out Why People Should Care About Your Topic

A key thing to remember about any speech is that your topic shouldn’t serve you, it should serve your audience. When preparing for a TED Talk, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the pressure. Instead, focus on what your audience can gain from the idea you’re delivering. Ask yourself not only why they should care, but why they need to care.

Write Your Topic as One Sentence

This sounds simple, but it might be the most difficult (and most important) step of this entire process. Distilling your idea into one single sentence will save you from going off topic. This one-sentence trick is a guidepost you can refer to throughout your preparations. Make certain that everything you’re writing and sharing supports the main point you’re trying to make. Anything else should be dropped and saved for another time.

Discover the Story in Your Topic

People have come to expect a TED Talk to be heavily delivered like a story. Stories are more engaging for the audience and will keep them interested in your topic. If you go up on stage and rattle off a bunch of facts and figures, you’ll lose your audience pretty quickly. People don’t want to be talked at, they want to be told a story. According to research found on the Harvard Business Review, storytelling not only helps people focus better, but it also helps them retain information and compels them to change. Fortunately, all data has a story to tell. You just have to find it.

Integrate a Bit About Who You Are Into the Topic

Make sure you share why this topic matters so much to you. Humans naturally gravitate toward vulnerability and authenticity because it helps us relate. After all, vulnerability and authenticity are among the few things we all have in common. Including one or two personal anecdotes that demonstrate both your personal values and your relationship to the topic. This goes a long way in helping your audience more deeply connect and relate to your message.

Make it Universal

Your TED Talk should be universal for all audiences to connect. For instance, if you’re passionate about mindfulness because it’s helped you overcome speech anxiety, share that. Take it a step further. Think about the universal problems that mindfulness can solve, like helping people focus better at work, be more present with their families and discover passions they never knew they had. The logic is pretty simple, really: the more universal your message, the more people that will connect to it.

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