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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 discussthose concepts more in part two of this three-part series: How to Plan 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:

  • Understand how to give a killer presentation with TED Talks
  • Finish crafting a TED Talk presentation that resonates with your audience
  • Uncover top TEDx presentation tips so you can deliver a viral-worthy talk

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

1. Speak Boldly and Confidently

Politicians, professional athletes, and paid speakers have one thing in common: they must speak boldly and exert confidence to perform successfully in their careers. For example, a football player could exert confidence through 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 confidently when he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and, as a result, thousands gathered to hear what he had to say. Therefore, spoken confidence is key to gaining influence and getting others to listen to your words.

So, if you want to give a talk at a TEDx event 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:

The MountainTop Excercise

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.

2. Give Your Audience Time To Retain Your Content

When planning a speech for the TED stage, 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 speak at a TEDx event. 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, your audience has the 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 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 your action 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 ideal.

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 TEDx speaker, 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.

TED Talk Slide Example

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 toward 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 Give A TED Talk Dark Slides
How to Give A TED Talk Light Slides

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, confidence in yourself and your speech is the key to effectively presenting for the TED community.

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.

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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