TED – Ideas Worth Spreading

To become adept at public speaking, we need to practise.  However, we can also improve our skills by watching and learning from other speakers.  Today’s post provides you with a great resource to do just that: TED.

TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) began in 1984 as a conference to bring together people from these three areas.  Since then, it has exploded in popularity and the range of topics covered has become even broader.

A bright idea.

A bright idea.

The annual conference brings together some of the world’s top thinkers and achievers.  They are given a simple challenge: Give the talk your life in 18 minutes.  (Doesn’t sound too hard, does it?)

One of the best things about TED is that its “TED Talks” – more than 400 and counting at the time of this post – are available to you absolutely free.

TED’s mission is to spread ideas.  As the people at TED state on their website: “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.  So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

The world needs more people like TED people.

The talks are well and truly fascinating.  Watch a few.  And note the different speaking styles.  Do you see things that you like?  Do you see things that you don’t like?  Does a speaker use an interesting technique that you could try in your next presentation?

I promise that you will come away from TED amazed, enlightened and delighted.  And you might just pick up a good public speaking idea or two.


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
This entry was posted in Delivery, Preparation, TED and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to TED – Ideas Worth Spreading

  1. Pingback: 10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation | Manner of Speaking

  2. Kevin Kane says:

    Sounds good, John.

    When you return to Canada, please bring me Roger Federer’s autograph if it’s not too much trouble.

  3. Kevin Kane says:

    John, I’m a Canadian, too. What prompted you to go to Switzerland? Are you a big Roger Federer fan?

    I did a talk on three reasons why Toastmasters should watch TED Talks, and I paraphrased a few of your lines here. Actually, I borrowed quite liberally from your paragraphs three and four!

    Here’s the talk, with video: http://www.kevinkane.com/2010/12/before-bed-watch-ted/

    I’d like to connect with other Toastmasters interested in TED.

    Best wishes, Kevin

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks for the comment, Kevin. Glad that you found the post on TED useful. I came to Switzerland as a result of a great opportunity to work on some cutting edge international environmental law issues at the UN. My work has changed over the last 12 years but we still love living over here.



  4. Gabriela says:

    “One tip for watching TED Talks from a public speaking standpoint is to observe the way in which the speakers use props, PowerPoint and other audio-visual equipment.”

    … or even don’t use anything! I love watching those guys who can give a brilliant speech without anything else but – themselves.

    Very good blog, very good advice. Thanks again, John!

  5. Pingback: Making it stick: Make it simple « Manner of Speaking

  6. Jawahara says:

    I “love” Ted Talks. They are mind-expanding expriences.

    Hi again, by the way. I found your blog through Mighty Mum’s blog. Can’t wait to wade through the archives.

  7. Shuying says:

    Another site like TED is Fora.TV. You make a good point. Up till now, I’ve used such sites as a resource for picking up all kinds of ideas except on public speaking. How would you categorise speaking styles and what interesting techniques have you identified from watching TED talks?

    • John Zimmer says:

      Shuying, thanks for the comment and the tip about Fora TV.

      It is tough to answer your question because there are so many speaking styles on TED. Not everyone who appears on TED is a brilliant speaker – though many are – but they are each brilliant in their own way.

      One tip for watching TED Talks from a public speaking standpoint is to observe the way in which the speakers use props, PowerPoint and other audio-visual equipment. Some use it seamlessly; others less so.


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