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

TEDxTuesdays: Insights from... The TED Talk Whisperer (28nov23)

Published 6 months ago • 4 min read

IDEAS WORTH FOLDING: The TEDster Approach to Fivefold Focus.

A decade ago, a buddy in Florida began an online business producing silk ties overseas and marketing them in the United States.

He offered five ties with distinct patterns. Among those who knew the difference, his prices under $200, couldn’t be beat.

Those ties were sumptuous, bespoke pieces. Heavy. Quality.

Unlike most ties with a layer of silk covering cheap padding, the fivefold is a large, single square of silk folded on itself. It gives the tie a fuller, substantial feel and look — a distinctive something different.

To the discerning eye, there were telltale signs — the knot thickness, the distinct cut, the stiff movement. The result was memorable.

Now then, what does this silky tale have to do with ideas worth spreading?

TED Talks are clearly-focused through 5 layers.

The Five Layers of a Focused TED Talk.


TEDsters know that one singular idea worth spreading is essential to nailing a stage or online presentation. What is the “throughline” you want your audience to recall and share after your presentation? Is it memorably stated in clean, crisp, clear wording? Are those words as few as possible? Is the Big Idea statement rhythmic and alliterative? Is the phrasing sticky, repeatable... Tweetable?

For more on TEDster BIG Ideas, click here.


TEDsters know that no audience can process and remember 8, 18, or 28 points. Brain research proves that we really only recall 3 things when we hit the next Zoom conversation. So work to ensure that your BIG Idea is supported by 3 points. And again, make those points memorable in clean, crisp, clear wording. Ideally, they are also balanced in terms of word count and structure.

For more on the TEDster Rule of 3, click here.


TEDsters know that the classic, “Message Temple” leaves little room for overcomplicated messaging. Picture a Greek temple: The BIG Idea is an arched roof; the supporting columns are 3 (or fewer) key points; there’s a story doorway in and out; and the six (or fewer) steps leading out are the CTAs. This limited TEDster outline doesn’t leave much room for the Curse of Knowledge to plague an audience.

For more on TEDster outlines, click here.


TEDsters know that a traditional slide deck is a distraction, not a help. The best speakers jettison the old norm of 1 image, 7 bullet points, 7 words per; and the fruit salad of italics, bold, underline, color, and sparkling clipart! If you use PowerPoint, make each slide 1 image and 1 idea. Then, if absolutely necessary, use a single-concept phrase to expand on the image.

For more on TEDster PowerPoint, click here.


TEDsters know that a smooth script is a winning script. Imagine driving a minivan with the audience in the back. You’re the presenter and in your script, you want to avoid Speed Bumps (jolting or shocking content); Potholes (info gaps, acronyms, coded language); and Billboards (distracting rabbit trail triggers). Make that highway as smooth and distraction-free as possible.

TEDster Example: Jon Tepperman.

video preview

In this TEDSummit Talk (The risky politics of progress), Jonathan Tepperman, uses the example of 3 countries facing seemingly intractable challenges. As managing editor of Foreign Affairs Magazine, he traveled the world to ask global leaders how they're tackling hard problems. He unearthed surprisingly hopeful stories that he's distilled into 3 tools for problem-solving.

World-saving problems exist.
(1) Embrace the Extreme
(2) Promiscuous Thinking is Powerful
(3) Please All People, Sometimes

Fivefold Focus Makes for Ideas Worth Spreading.

The craftsmanship of fivefold ties parallels the focusing layers of the best TED Talks. The two share meticulous attention to detail, seamless construction, and subtle appeal.

In talks and ties, fivefold focus makes for Ideas Worth Fold... errr, Spreading!

#Presentations #TEDTalks #TheTEDTalkWhisperer

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!™

FIND YOUR BIG IDEA: Join The Final '23 BIG IDEA Mill Cohort!

The BIG IDEA Mill™ training is about to begin within days.

This is the final time this training will be offered in 2023 — that matters if you have hopes for a New Years Resolution TED Talk!

DETAILS: Four weeks of LIVE training and LIVE workshopping with The TED Talk Whisperer. Beginning December, 6, 11:00 a.m. ET. The price is $497**

Get excited! The curated training cohort will include your peers — authors, researchers, leaders, and niche experts, just like you.

For more information click here. To apply for consideration, click here.

#TheBigIdeaMill #TheTEDTalkWhisperer #TEDxTalks

** Grab this deal. Keep in mind, when Devin works 1:1 with a thought leader, this process runs thousands of dollars. But since this will be a LIVE group experience as part of a future online curriculum... you can jump in for a fraction of the cost. Hope you can join us!

P.S. And if now isn’t a good time to join, click here to let us know of your interest in being considered for a potential future cohort.


When he said it, I reached for my pencil.

"He is absolutely right," I thought.

Generational Thought Leader, Cam Marston was interviewing me on his Mobile, Alabama radio show (and podcast) a few years ago. In our conversation, he observed, “I am not familiar with a leader who was not a good speaker... and storyteller.”

His insight hit me. As a coach who works closely with leaders to bring messages to stage that leverage The TED Messaging Method... That is a truth worth repeating!

"Good leadership is good storytelling."

ere's that "throwback episode" of Cam's What's Working Radio Show. (Click to Season 4, ep.2) Listen 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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