Three Things That Make a TED Talk Worthwhile


Since February, I’ve watched dozens upon dozens of TED and TEDx videos, searching for ones that are interesting enough to post on social media outlets (as part of my job). What do you need to know in order to deliver a successful TED/TEDx talk? Here are my insights thus far:


  1. TED is not a lecture series. While the worst of the talks would still be an entertaining interjection in your Economics 101 class, the best take a niche topic and make it relevant to the masses. The main topic of every great TED talk is something you’ve either never heard about before, or haven’t heard anyone publicly talk about before. Is science my thing? Not really. Did I watch the TED talk on the $0.50 paper-pop-out microscope three times? Hell yes! TED has been criticized for over simplifying intense topics, but that is often the goal; take the most exciting piece of your topic and share it.
  2. Great TED/TEDx talks always feature a speaker that is confident and knowledgeable. These people know that they know their stuff, and are genuinely excited to share it. Just like with anything and anyone successful, from Aravind Eye Care to Steve Jobs, a spirited and charismatic person has proved that  it’s possible to get others interested in something that they may not have previously cared about. Enthusiasm is contagious!
  3. Present both a problem AND an innovative (buzzword!) solution. TED and TEDx presenters are not, historically, “debbie downers” and they don’t get on stage just to present research. The most engaging talks present a common problem and then proceed to tell the audience how they found a unique way to solve it. This doesn’t just apply to the technology talks. Amy Cuddy has 17.5 million views on her body language talk at  TED. She talks about how body language effects our chances of success and how most people don’t realize this (the problem). She then goes on to give advice on what to do before a job interview, and proves to viewers that what she’s talking about is 100% science and 100% true (the solution).
  4. Only feature stories or examples if people won’t be able to recognize them as such. Tell a personal anecdote that is so relevant to your topic that the audience won’t even realize that it’s a personal anecdote. Promote your company only if you’re talking about it in a way that you would to a friend, not promoting it but just explaining the cool stuff you’re doing.

Optimistic people sharing brilliant stories – TED in a nutshell.

Me on stage, presenting our "before I die" project at TEDxViaLibertad
Me on stage, presenting our “before I die” project at TEDxViaLibertad


Check out the talks from TEDxViaLibertad here – the most recent TEDx event in Bolivia that I helped to organize, on the TEDx YouTube channel! Or, visit our Facebook page at


Si lees español, echa un vistazo a mi post  TEDxViaLibertad,”Como Hacer TEDx en Bolivia“,


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