TEDxTuesdays, a weekly-ish 'zine about TED-style messaging.

TEDxTuesdays: Insights from... The TED Talk Whisperer (05dec23)

Published 5 months ago • 5 min read

TEN MORE: Another Ten TED Commandments.

Delivering a successful TED Talk involves a multitude of steps and strategies. But it all begins (and can end) with clear instructions from on high.

But there are more. So without flourish, here are Ten More Commandments of TED Talks:

Hint: Don’t think of these ten as comprehensive. But do regard them as table ante for crafting, rehearsing, and delivering a successful talk.

Fun Fact: In the early days of TED, each speaker was sent an actual rock-styled “tablet” inscribed with the original ten.


"Thou shalt start with an arresting opening."

A good opening is crucial for grabbing the attention of the audience and setting the stage for the rest of the talk. This can be done through six options — including a strong opening question, a memorable story, or a visually striking element.

Extra Credit: Just begin right in the heart of a storied moment and share that personal memory.

Want more about openings? Click here.


"Thou shalt have a hyper-focused message."

A talk should have a clearly-focused message that can be easily understood by the audience. This means avoiding jargon and technical language. Instead use a fivefold focusing approach to convey your ideas.

Extra Credit: Your message should also be refined into a singular BIG IDEA. The length? Ten words (or fewer).

Want more about fivefold focus? Click here.


"Thou shalt use texture in your talk."

To help your audience remember your message, use textured examples to illustrate your points. This can be done through the detail in stories — or even demonstrations to make ideas more understandable and memorable.

Extra Credit: Whatever your talk topic, ask how it can be accented by more than words and images.

Want more about texture? Click here.


"Thou shalt stand with confidence."

Too many hopeful TEDsters short-change their chances at a successful talk before they even begin. Don’t let Imposter Syndrome get the best of you. Jettison that doubting, poking, unkind voice in your head. Stand and deliver!

Extra Credit: Harness the energy of Imposter Syndrome to positively motivate your rehearsal regime.

Want more about beating Imposter Syndrome? Click here.


"Thou shalt rehearse for studio edits."

Remember that your live delivery is more of a studio recording session than a keynote. Yes, the audience matters. But what matters more is what actually ends up on video. So if you flub a line, correct it — then and there.

Extra Credit: Flub a line? Pause. Reorient. Restate. That’ll ensure the goof ends up on the cutting room floor.

Want more about studio edits? Click here.


"Thou shalt use visuals effectively."

Visuals can be an important part of any talk to help illustrate your points and make your message more engaging. Yet, it is critical that your slides not become a distraction. Don’t rely too heavily on them; they should play a clarifying role.

Extra Credit: First fully draft and refine your script. Then ask what images (if any) will help with message recall.

Want more about visuals? Click here.


"Thou shalt not confuse STICKY Stories with examples.

A STICKY story has six acronym elements, the first of which is “Structure.” The most sticky story structure is challenge-shaped. This isn’t an example, illustration, or vignette — it is a particular story arc.

Extra Credit: Consider the “shape” and arc of your story. Man walking along; falls in hole; climbs out to continue walking.

Want more about STICKY Stories? Click here.


"Thou shalt not feel bound to 18 minutes."

TED Talks are designed to be short and punchy. Traditionally, the recommended length is 18 minutes or less. Lean into the “or less” part of things. These days successful talks tend to flow in the 10- and 14-minute length — or shorter.

Extra Credit: Never exceed the time limit allotted for your talk — not even by seconds!

Want more about length? Click here.


"Thou shalt end with a clear closing."

Just as a good opening is important, so too is a strong, action-igniting close. This is your chance to leave an actionable impression with your audience; to inspire them to take specific, immediate steps toward your vision.

Extra Credit: Go for winnable wins (i.e., replicable, repeatable, habit-building steps). This isn’t a “boil the ocean” moment.

Want more about CTAs? Click here.


“Thou shalt not go it alone.”

Just like a mountain climber scaling Mt. Everest, you should have a sherpa alongside you. This process is nuanced and intense. So find a coach (whether assigned or private) who has an impressive, experienced track record.

Extra Credit: Check out a coach’s statistics. How many speakers trained? Results in the millions?

Want more about finding a speaker coach? Click here.

Commandments Beyond Common Sense

Seems clear and common sense, right?

Sadly, what’s clear and common sense is too often clearly missed (or ignored) again, and Again and AGAIN.

The TED Commandments matter.

They. Are. Not. Suggestions.

Religiously follow them and you won't give the TED NYC headquarters staff an obvious reason to reject your “idea worth spreading.”

Live by (and speak with) the 10+10 Commandments of TED.

Now go and sin no more!

#Presentations #TEDTalks #TheTEDTalkWhisperer

P.S. For the original ten, click here.

DEVIN D. MARKS is known as The TED Talk Whisperer. His firm, CONNECT to COMPEL, has served 100s of TED, TEDx, and TED-Style speakers. The result: 100s of millions of views. His team helps leaders, just like you, catalyze ideas.

You can reach Devin at 617.804.6020, or DM him here.

Let the world LIVE your message!™

TEDxANYWHERE: 3 TEDx Events Seeking Speakers.

There's always a bevy of TEDx events bubbling with deadline announcements. But when it comes to quality productions worth applying to, there's a select few. Why aren't they all fair game? One phrase: Volunteer Run Events.

There is a wide range of event production quality (or lack thereof) in the volunteer-led TEDx world. Not all events are created equal. (More here on TEDx event selection.)

Suffice it to say, these 3 are worth investing (and risking) 3-6 months of your time as a hopeful speaker.

1. TEDxAndersonPark.

Application Deadline:
Jan. 13, 2024

Event Date:
Apr. 27, 2024

2. TEDxOshawa.

Application Deadline:
Jan. 31, 2024

Event Date:
June 8, 2024

3. TEDxNormal.

Application Deadline:
Jan. 15, 2024

Event Date:
Apr. 20, 2024

P.S. Read each event's rules closely. Some welcome outside-speakers (i.e., not local to the venue); some have stringent zip code rules (e.g., "must live or work within a 30-mile radius"). And remember, relationships often drive decisions, so play The Kevin Bacon 6 Degrees of Separation game.

Podcast Moments.

My conversation with John Meese and The Thrive School Podcast tribe explores how executive communications (even on other presentation platforms) have been forever transformed by TED.

You see, the Marks Messaging Method™ works beyond the “red dot” TED stage. This speaking style applies in board room presentations, venture capital pitches, keynotes, and even sermons.

Click here to listen to episode #85:

Become a Breakaway TEDster!

When you're ready to take center stage (or center screen), let me know. Whether you're working on a TED Talk or a commencement address; an all-hands preso, or a keynote, you will want to be:

[ ✔] FiveFold-Focused
[ ✔] Story-Wrapped
[ ✔] Action-Igniting

And those three priorities make our TED Messaging Method so very, very connecting and compelling.

To begin a conversation, click here:

Let the world LIVE your message!™

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TEDxTuesdays, a weekly-ish 'zine about TED-style messaging.

From... The TED Talk Whisperer, DEVIN

I help niche execs, experts and authors master the TED stage and "short talk" messaging style. (TEDx clients enjoying views in the many, Many, MANY millions.) LET THE WORLD LIVE YOUR MESSAGE!™ #tedtalks #tedx #tedstyle #publicspeaking #speechwriting #pitches #presentations #messaging #branding #publicrelations #events #conferences

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