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How to Give A TED Talk: Deliver Your Speech With Confidence

So you landed a TED talk. Now what?

While speaking at TED requires practice and speech memorization, those tips don’t tell you how to give a TED talk. We also discuss those concepts more in part two of this three-part series: How to Prepare For A TED Talk.

Here, we will expound on some TED talk tips you can use to bring a stage presence like that of Brene Brown.

This article will help you:

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Understand how to give a killer presentation with TED Talks

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Finish crafting a TED Talk presentation that resonates with your audience

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Uncover top TEDx presentation tips so you can deliver a viral-worthy talk

Now, what you know what this article is about, let’s dive into the steps involved in giving a TED talk people will reference for generations to come.

1. Speak Boldly and Confidently

There’s one thing politicians, professional athletes, and paid speakers have in common: they have to speak boldly and exert confidence to perform successfully in their careers. For example, a football player could exert confidence through a fearless action taken on the field. Meanwhile, he may have to speak boldly in a press conference to exert that same confidence level.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke with confidence when he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and, as a result, thousands gathered to hear what he had to say. Therefore, regardless of who you are or where you are going, spoken confidence is the key to gaining influence and getting others to listen to what you have to say.

So, if you want to give a TED talk that’s worth listening to, speak as though the entire world is listening. Here’s one exercise you can do that can help you exert more confidence through your spoken word:

Close your eyes and picture yourself on the edge of a cliff. In this scenario, you aren’t afraid of heights. You’re far enough back to avoid fear but far enough forward for everyone below to listen to you and take notice. Then, take a deep breath and imagine the entire world is standing below the cliff. There’s one thing you feel you should tell them. You boldly proclaim your idea to the entire world.

When it’s time to give your speech, make sure to speak with the same level of authority you would on the cliff talking to millions of people.

How to Gain Confidence On Stage

2. Give Your Audience Time To Retain Your Content

When you’re planning on giving a TED talk, the most significant gift you can give your audience is a moment to absorb your content. This concept of paying attention to your audience is why comedians often pause after delivering a joke. They understand if you don’t have time to process the joke, you won’t laugh; and more than likely won’t return to another one of their shows.

Plan out pauses in your script as you prepare to give a TEDx talk. If you don’t incorporate breaths ahead of time, you might rush through your talk when it’s time to deliver it. However, if you intentionally create a habit around pausing after crucial moments, it gives your audience time to rest and retain what you’re telling them.

3. Plan On-Stage Movement

Have you ever acted in a play? If so, you know that directors often make stagehands mark off certain areas with tape. This taping method helps actors know where to go during different scenes and creates muscle memory while giving their lines in practice.

The primary purpose behind this planning is to help deliver a fluid performance to your audience. You don’t want your on-stage movement to be aimless because that creates a visual distraction for those watching your performance.

As a TEDx event speaker, you need to prepare how to use the stage. First, create blocking zones within your presentation timeline. For example, zone one could be planting your feet, executing a point, and pausing. Zone two could mean shifting your feet, delivering a new concept, and pausing.

Planning on-stage movement lets you think about how the action you’re taking on-stage supports the concept you’re trying to deliver.

4. Engage With TED Talk Slides

Growing up, you might recall a teacher writing something on a board and then turning around to face you and discuss the lesson. Imagine if the teacher wrote on the board and tried to explain the lesson while writing. His or her back would be to you while presenting, which isn’t an ideal situation.

In the same way we won’t want a teacher to present while writing, we shouldn’t talk while delivering a slide during a speaking presentation. The goal of this concept is never to compete visually with something else on-stage. As TED event presenters, we want to be the primary point of focus. So, when you are engaging with tech, you need to reference the slide and then show it without speaking. Only once the audience has seen the slide do you reference it verbally.

For example, if our talk is about world hunger, we might have a statistic about the number of children that don’t receive dinner each night within a particular region. Before sharing a slide with that statistic, we might say, “What we’re talking about is the number of children who don’t get dinner each night.” Then we’d point to the slide or gesture towards the PowerPoint and say, “Let me show you.”

We pause when the slide with the number 35% appears, so the audience has time to digest the material. Then, once this number has registered with the audience, we might say, “35% of children in Madagascar don’t get a meal each night.”

Breaking up your speech and slides helps you engage with your audience on a new level.

How to Create TED Talk Presentation Slides

Did you know there’s science behind effective presentations? That’s right. An effective presentation is more than just great ideas and flattering speeches. Color, graphics, animations, and critical points can subconsciously captivate or disengage your audience. So, let’s look at some aspects behind an effective presentation:

Know Your Bullet Points

Knowing your central theme within each section of your talk can help you create bullet points for slides. First, think about each subtopic within your talk and then find the most critical elements that make up that point.

Pick A Theme And Stick To It

When it’s time to create TED talk PowerPoint slides, you must think about colors’ role in engaging with an audience. According to Presentationteam.com, blue is the most common color used in PowerPoint presentations as it represents calmness, tranquility and goes with everything. Meanwhile, black is the most worn color on the TEDx stage.

Dave Paradi, training coach and author of 10 books on effective presentations, suggests you choose colors that have high contrast for your presentation. For example, according to Dave, a dark background with light text or a light background with dark text make an engaging color scheme. Here are some sample color combos based on his suggestions:

Dark Slides

Background – a dark blue (navy shade) or dark purple
Text and Graphics – white or yellow
Accent Colors – red, lime green, camel orange, light blue

The dark blue or dark purple background presents calming emotions. Meanwhile, the yellow and white text and graphics contrast, so statistics or essential elements stand out.

How to Give A TED Talk Dark Slides

Light Slides

Background – warm beige
Text and Graphics – dark blue, black, dark purple
Accent Colors – dark green, burgundy

The beige background mellows out the negative emotional effect of burgundy or other dark colors. Meanwhile, the darker text and graphics provide enough contrast to make the item stand out on the screen.

How to Give A TED Talk Light Slides

Whichever combination of colors you choose, remember to keep your design consistent throughout the presentation.

Make Your Visuals Interactive

If you want to create a memorable experience for your audience, you might consider stepping up your presentation game. There are various software elements you can use to capture an audience’s attention. Here are a few ways you can make your visuals more interactive:

1. Prezi or Visme

While Powerpoint is often the guru of the slide world, there are other platforms you can use to tell a story more visually. For example, some (Prezi) show an entire layout and let you zoom in and out inside different graphics. Meanwhile, others (Visme) let you create interactive maps filled with data.

These Magic Schoolbus styled software capture the audience’s attention while enabling them to see how everything ties together.


Interactive Presentation

2. Moving Graphics

Moving graphics are another example of how you can make your presentations more interactive. These are especially beneficial if you’re telling a story or reenacting a scenario. For example, keeping with our current hunger theme, you might give a story about how a little boy in Madagascar struggles to gather food for his family.

You could incorporate moving graphics on your slide to bring this story to life. For example, these graphics might show the different routes he must take to gather food and water each week. Here’s a graphic we made in Canva that incorporates moving elements.


How to Give A TED Talk moving graphic

3. Transitions

Transitions are another presentation element that is often forgotten or underutilized. They help your slides flow fluidly throughout the presentation. Similar to how a speech without sentence transitions feels choppy, presentations without transitions feel jumbled together.

You can tie slide transitions to the words you use between two key points and marry your entire presentation together. For example, if you had just talked about the kid in Madagascar, your next topic might be how people can help solve the hunger crisis in Madagascar. Then, keeping with our current slide theme, you might transition to the next slide through moving text.


How To Give A TED talk presentation transitions

When deciding how to make your presentation interactive, it’s essential to think about the type of message you’re trying to convey to your audience. For example, are you talking about a deep subject that might require more storytelling or a light-hearted topic that might feature more gifs and moving graphics? Knowing your target audience can help you create a visually enhancing presentation.

More TED Talk Presentation Tips

Whether you’re speaking at an in-person TED conference or a virtual TEDx, your big ideas are only worth sharing if you’re comfortable presenting them. In other words, the key to effectively presenting for the TED community is to have confidence in yourself and your speech. Therefore, we’ve come up with a few final tips you can use to prepare for your 18-minute talk successfully:

How to Memorize A TED Talk

We spoke about the concept of memorization more in our previous article: How to Prepare A TED Talk. We discuss memorization elements such as muscle memory, focused thoughts, and body conditioning. Here we’re going to focus on the role teaching plays in the TED talk memorization process.

Studies show that individuals who teach what they’ve learned have better knowledge retention than those who spend the same time re-studying. The same rule applies to speech memorization. Taking opportunities to discuss your speech topic with others helps you remember it better than simply reviewing lines repeatedly.

How To Gain Confidence In Public Speaking

Something our speaker coaches like to tell our TED speakers is to never be in search of perfection. We coach doctors, executives, life coaches, and other successful individuals across various industries. However, many of these achievers often struggle to let go of their expectations. As a result of holding on to perfection, these individuals develop anxious public speaking behavior.

When you permit yourself to be flawed, you bring your authentic aurora to the TED stage. To do this, you need to shake out any philosophies of how you think you should be. Next, practice your speech dynamically. Practice in the car, in Starbucks, while jogging, and doing a million different things. This method of practicing enables you to step outside of your comfort zone while gaining confidence speaking about your topic.

Giving The TED Talk Of Your Dreams

We hope that you now feel confident in your TED talk journey. From speech writing and applications to preparation and memorization tips, our goal with this series has been to equip you with the necessary resources to follow this TEDx path.

While the TED stage isn’t an overnight process, it’s a learning experience that can propel you forward in your career. So, what are you waiting for? Reach for the stars. Follow your dreams, and change the world.


Joelle Cullimore
Marketing Content Manager

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