The TED Commandments

Posted on August 16, 2010


This is from Fast Company’s article, “How TED Connects the Idea-Hungry Elite.” (September 1, 2010) (.pdf)

7 easy steps for getting into TED:

1. Get In. Start in the minor leagues and try to get in.

2. Boil it Down. 18 minutes. 15 minutes too trivial. 20 minutes too long (and people would talk for 25). 19 minutes too perverse, and 17 is a prime number. Though some have speculated that 18 is mystical (in Judaism 18 is the number for חי, which means “life”), the founders say “no.”

3. Be Simple. (A few words on a slide with only a line or two of text. Ban the bullet points. Use big pictures. TED likes Helvetica, and so should you.)

4. Be Awesome. Make us think about our place in the universe; “awe” inspiring.

5. Be Visual.

6. Flatter the Audience.

7. Follow the TED Commandments. TED wants to make sure everyone does a great job. Follow these, and you’ll be sure to do a great job.

[end of Fast Company Article notes]

I found the following notes here, however, a slightly different set was found on below.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
  2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.

Additionally, from TEDxEvents For Hosts: Designing your event > Preparing speakers:

TED’s format may be different than what many speakers are accustomed to. (Long talks, podiums and readings are discouraged by TED.) To get the best out of your speakers, prepare them for what to expect.

How to prepare your speakers:

  • Talk to every speaker (by phone or in person) weeks, if not months, before the event. Make sure they understand the format, and know who their audience is.
  • From the earliest conversation, reinforce key points: Their talk should be directed at a smart general audience. (Avoid industry jargon.) It should focus on one unique aspect of their story. (Don’t try to cover too much.) It should not be a sales pitch. (Absolutely no corporate plugs.)
  • Have your speakers send you their presentation two weeks before the event so you can review it and make suggestions.
  • Regroup with all of your speakers on the day of the event to refresh them. If possible, offer them rehearsal time before the actual event begins.
  • Repeatedly reinforce the fact that they will be held to a strict time limit; encourage rehearsal.
  • Make sure they sign the speaker release form. Each speaker must affirm that they are the sole author of their presentation, that they own all rights to the content in their presentation, that they will inform you about any third-party material in their presentation, and that use of their presentation won’t violate the rights of any third party.

What speakers need to know

  • At the event: They will sit in the audience and enter the stage from the audience. They are encouraged to stay for the whole event, and to mingle during breaks.
  • During the talk: The talk must not go over the allotted time. Let them know how you’ll cue them when their time has run out.
  • After the talk: They are expected to remain at the event throughout the day; at minimum, they’re expected to stay through the conversation break following their talk, so attendees can approach them and ask questions.

The TED Commandments

These 10 tips are given to all TED Conference speakers as they prepare their TEDTalks. They will help your TEDx speakers craft talks that will have a profound impact on your audience.

  1. Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.
  2. Show us the real you. Share your passions, your dreams … and also your fears. Be vulnerable. Speak of failure as well as success.
  3. Make the complex plain. Don’t try to dazzle intellectually. Don’t speak in abstractions. Explain! Give examples. Tell stories. Be specific.
  4. Connect with people’s emotions. Make us laugh! Make us cry!
  5. Don’t flaunt your ego. Don’t boast. It’s the surest way to switch everyone off.
  6. No selling from the stage! Unless we have specifically asked you to, do not talk about your company or organization. And don’t even think about pitching your products or services or asking for funding from stage.
  7. Feel free to comment on other speakers’ talks, to praise or to criticize. Controversy energizes! Enthusiastic endorsement is powerful!
  8. Don’t read your talk. Notes are fine. But if the choice is between reading or rambling, then read!
  9. End your talk on time. Doing otherwise is to steal time from the people that follow you. We won’t allow it.
  10. Rehearse your talk in front of a trusted friend … for timing, for clarity, for impact.

— VIA —

Brilliant! Another reminder that the simple and profound can truly be found in symbiosis.

Posted in: TED