“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” -Robin Williams
The key to an exceptional TEDx talk is one good idea, shared well. It sounds simple but it’s not. It must be one idea; not a theme, a topic, a platitude or a general truth. It should be specific enough to sum up in one or two sentences. Global Warming is a topic. Follow Your Passion is a platitude. Coming of Age is a theme. The Beauty of Simplicity is a general truth. The idea you are looking for is specific! It’s new! It’s factual and realistic! It should be something surprising which informs us, which makes us challenge a belief or look at an old idea in a new light.
I believe that it is in that singleness of purpose that propels a TED audience into The Zone. Some call it Flow. It’s that state where a person is fully immersed in a ‘feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment’. The person loses sense of time and space. Now we usually employ those terms to a physical activity but I think that it can also be applicable to the TED audience when they are immersed in a great TED talk!
Neuroscience has proven that none of us multitask well. Thanks to smartphones, our attention span is shorter than a goldfish (yep, Google it). Having one idea with a great through-line appeals to our overstimulated minds. A through-line brings together all the elements that support your idea. It helps all the pieces to connect. Watch Joe Steensma’s talk for a great through-line:
Or check out Eric Leuthardt’s talk:
Remember, you have less than 18 minutes to make your point and some of the best talks are actually quite short. Every word matters and every paragraph should support the idea. It’s the choice of words that makes the audience care, excites their passion and provides that “Ah-ha” moment! Your passion ignites their passion. To see an example, watch Amy Hunter’s talk:
Or check out Kyra Krakos' talk:
It doesn’t have to be complicated subject. Watch Mallory Nezam’s talk on play:
You don’t have to be the expert. You only need to be an expert on your subject. By combining your knowledge, your passion and a good idea, you may have an Idea Worth Spreading.
“Your number-one mission as a speaker is to take something that matters deeply to you and to rebuild it inside the minds of your listeners. We’ll call that something an idea.” - Chris J. Anderson, TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking