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7 Ways to Prepare for a TED Style Talk – How To Give A TED Style Talk Series

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Is your goal for 2021 to step onto that red circle and give the speech of your life?

Stay tuned for 7 tips on how to give a TED talk here in the Moxie Talk blog.


Hey everyone, I’m Fia Fasbinder, welcome to the Moxie Talk blog, where we help you find your voice, share your message, and lead with confidence.

Today we’re talking about TED talks. I have so many clients that ask me—How to give a TED talk? If not how to give a TED talk, how to give a TED-like talk?

TED has really taken the world by storm. We now give talks differently, we create slides differently and our intentions spans are different all because of TED. Now, as a TEDx speaker coach for over 5 years, I have a ton of knowledge on the best practices of TED, why people love TED talks, and what makes a successful TED talk.

I want to share 7 of those tips with you so that you can create TED talks or TED-like talks for yourself.


The first idea is transformation. TED talks are not about sharing knowledge, they’re not about sharing information—they’re about transformation. A good TED talk really changes an audience’s perspective on the situation.

We have talks that are about really common subjects. A speaker I worked with talked about malaria. Hundreds of thousands of scientists have talked about malaria, but her unique perspective on how to cure malaria is what made this talk so special.

So if you want to give an amazing TED talk or TED-like talk ask yourself— How do you want to transform that audience?

Really imagine them at the beginning of the talk when they’re coming into the theater and at the end of the talk. How have they changed? how are they thinking, behaving differently? So that’s tip number 1.


Because a TED talk is under 18 minutes long, we always go deep instead of wide. That means you can’t talk about everything with your subject. You have to pick one aspect of a subject that you know well and go deep. This is how we give a talk and under 18 minutes that really transforms behavior.

One thing we say to our TED talk speakers all the time is to murder your darlings. You might have a ton of ideas that would make a great TED talk, but you have to pick one. And every piece of evidence you use and every story you tell in that TED talk has to lead directly to that one aspect of your topic.

One idea I share with my TED speakers is to imagine a tree and the tree trunk is the main topic of your TED talk and every piece of evidence or story is like a branch that leads into that trunk. So that is tip number 2—go deep not wide.


Tip number 3 is to tell stories. One of the reasons we fall in love with TED speakers is that they tell stories. They tell authentic stories, vulnerable stories, stories that make us angry, stories that make us laugh, stories that make us cry.

Good TED talks are infused with so much stories and not just the story of the TED speaker but stories from across the world it’s what connects us with that speaker.

So if you want to give a TED talk or a TED-like talk you must make sure that you have at least 3 stories in your TED talk. At least 3 stories—that is our golden rule for TED talks—3 stories and they could be stories of clients, they could be stories of patience, they could be stories from your family or people you’ve worked with. But make sure that you are telling stories and know that is what will connect that audience to you as the speaker.


Tip number 4 is your slides. Now  TED has really transformed the way people view and create slides today. TED has a hard and fast rule that there are only 6 words per slide.

6 words per slide, so the slides used in TED talks are highly visual—amazing graphics with very few words and we always ask our speakers: Do you need the slide? If not, just talk to the audience.

If you have a slide, it should be to amplify your message, to add visual perspective and visual impact to your talk. This means—you ready for this? No bullets.

You will never see a TED talk with a slide riddled with bullets. We do not do that. Hence, if you want to give an engaging talk TED talk or TED-like talk, take a look at your slide deck and make sure that your slides are highly graphic, highly visual with very few words. That’s tip number 4.


Let’s move on to some tips for delivering your TED talk. So far we’ve talked about the content, we’ve talked about the slides, now—What about your delivery will make your talk TED-like?

Now we consider TED talks to be what we call couch talks. What does that mean? That means as a speaker your delivery should be like you are sitting on a couch and talking to 2500 of your closest friends. That means your delivery style is authentic, personable, and conversational.

A lot of the work we do with TED speakers around the delivery simply is taking away bad habits, removing filler words, or making sure they’re not speaking too fast or they’re not mumbling.  This really allows those speakers to be authentic in their delivery style. Make sure if you want to give a TED talk or a TED-like talk that you’re conversational and casual in your delivery style.


Tip number 6 has to do with your body language. If you are giving a TED talk, you are on the red circle. If you’re giving a TED-like talk, you’re probably at the front of a board room, at the front of a meeting room, or on the front of a stage. One thing we see with a lot of TED speakers is what I call spider feet.

Now if you can imagine a spider going back and forth, this is what speakers are doing with their feet. They’re taking 3 steps this way, 3 steps this way, 3 steps to the right, 3 steps to the left and it is extremely distracting.

In fact, any repetitive movement that you make with your body will distract your audience from your message and this is even amplified in a TED talk because of the camera—it picks up any movement. Even if you’re swaying from left to right, it distracts from the message. Therefore, make sure that you ground yourself.

One of the techniques that I give to my speakers is to imagine that they’re growing roots from their feet from the soles of their shoes and it’s actually rooting them to the ground so that when they move, they move with purpose. That’s tip number 6.


The seventh and final tip is to remember that when you’re giving a TED talk, even though you’re working the stage, you also have to work the camera.

Why? Because most people see your TED talk on YouTube. They’re not in the theater seeing it live. This is a really strange juxtaposition because you have to be large on that stage to engage the audience that is in that theater with you, but you also have to connect with the camera.

This is so the thousands of people that watch your TED talk afterward see you in the camera and see you performing and presenting into the camera. You have to make sure that you’re presenting both to the people in that theater and to the camera itself.

There you go: seven tips to give a TED talk or TED-like talk. I hope you all apply to give TED talks in the new year.

I hope that this helped you. Stay tuned for more talks about TED and TED-like talks on Moxie Talk. For more information on everything from soup to nuts presentations check out our other blogs.

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