10 Ways to Prepare for a TED Style Talk - Deepstash
1. Print your current slide deck as 9-up handouts.

The 9-up format is conveniently the same size as the smallest sticky note. Keep trimming and trimming until you feel you are close to 18 minutes.

During this process it becomes clear that your big idea can be communicated in a succinct, distilled manner.

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2. Solicit feedback

Assemble a handful of people who are effective presenters that you trust to give honest, unfiltered feedback on your narrative and slides.

Verbally run the ideas by these folks (it doesn’t have to be a formal presentation). Have them look at all the slides at once so they give feedback on the “whole,” not the parts.

Have them give you feedback on the content you’ve chosen and ask whether they think it will resonate with your audience.

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3. Rehearse with a great (honest) communicator.

Choose someone you trust and also that understands how to give a TED Talk, and rehearse with them.

When it comes to preparing for a TED Talk, honesty is the best policy. Make sure your coach is not afraid to speak up; 18 minutes goes by fast.

You love your material and you want to include all of it, but if you want to master how to give a TED Talk successfully, you need someone you trust to help you murder your darlings.

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A lot of times, as the presenter, you know your material so well that you think you’re making each key point clear. You might not be. Your coach should make sure you are telling people why. It’s the “why” around our ideas that make them spread, not the “how.” Articulate the why so your audience understands what’s magnificent about your big idea.

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The first few times, rehearse with the clock counting up. That’s because if you go over, you need to know how much you’re over. Do NOT be looking at the clock at this time. Have your coach look at it because you don’t want to remember any of the timestamps in your mind. Finish your entire talk and then have your coach tell you how much you need to trim. Keep practicing until you’re consistently within 18 minutes. Your coach should be able to tell you to trim 30 seconds here or add 15 seconds there so that your content is weighted toward the most important information.

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Once you’re within the timeframe, begin practicing with the clock counting down. You need to set a few places in your talk where you benchmark a time stamp. Calculate where you need to be in the content in six-minute increments. You should know roughly where you should be at 6, 12 and 18 minutes. You should know which slide you should be on and what you’re saying so that you will know immediately from the stage if you’re on time or running over.

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7. Be noteworthy.

Your coach is there to jot down what you say well and what you don’t. They should work from a printout of the slides and write phrases you deliver effectively so they can be added to your script. They should help you capture phrases so you can type them into your notes.

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Videotape some of your final practices. It doesn’t have to be a high-end video setup. You just need to feel like something’s at stake. Videotaping yourself helps you get used to looking at the camera, and you can review the video to look at your stage presence, eye contact, gestures, plus identify any expressions that need modification. Also, if you do an especially good practice run, you can go back and listen to the audio and add the best snippets to your slide notes. The TED audience has only about 1,000 people in it, but the TED.com audience has millions.

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Right before you go onstage (we’re talking day-of), do one more timed rehearsal. This will ensure that you know the speech and that you’re well aware of where you might need to slow down or speed up.

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I gave a TED-style talk in India with a head cold. I knew I’d possibly lose track of timing. Give your talk two natural ending points. Pick two natural places you could stop in your talk, then demarcate those as possible endings. That way, if you’re running way over, you can stop at your first ending point, and while your audience may miss out on some inspirational or emotional ending, they’ll have heard all of the most important information that matters.

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