What Makes a Great Talk Great ?

August 5, 2016.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Chris Anderson:
What Makes a Great Talk Great?

Chris Anderson. Head of TED. Journalist, publisher, author, TED curator. After a career as a journalist and successful publishing entrepreneur, Chris Anderson acquired the TED Conference in 2001. He made TED into a non-profit organization, expanded its focus to cover all kinds of topics—including science, business and key global issues—and in 2006 started to make videos of TED talks available for free online.

If you want to become a better speaker and make your presentations more engaging and persuasive, studying some of the best TED speakers and learning from them, is both an enjoyable and an effective way to improve.

The talk by Chris Anderson featured here was given to a group of TEDx organizers—explaining ‘what makes a great talk great’.  “A talk is like a journey”, says Chris Anderson—“and you have to give your audience a reason to come with you on that journey.”

TEDGlobal 2013

The TED Conference has a long history, going back to 1984. It was originally an annual conference in Monterey, California, with leading experts and thinkers in their fields giving presentations on topics related to Technology, Entertainment and Design.

Following the acquisition of TED by Chris Anderson in 2001, the range of topics was expanded—under the new TED slogan of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.  In 2009 he enlarged the platform by taking it into the global arena through the TEDx initiative—providing free licenses to local organizers around the world to organize their own TED-style events.

By now more than 8,000 TEDx events have been held, with an online archive of some 60,000 TEDx talks.  The main TED conference online archives exceed 1,000 talks, and specialist TED platforms have emerged in the medical and educational fields—TEDMED and TEDEd, ‘Lessons Worth Sharing’— the latter a program providing free educational videos and tools to students and teachers:


TED speakers are generally not professional presenters, although some are—and come from a wide range of backgrounds and professions.  However, in order to appear on the TED platform, especially the main TED conference—speakers need to meet certain presentation standards, following TED presentation guidelines and being coached in advance.

And as TED has evolved, it has become a de facto benchmark for global best presentation practices—raising the bar for presentation standards generally.

This May, Chris Anderson’s new book TED Talks, The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, was published and has become a No. 1 best seller in Public Speaking on Amazon.  The book has around 250 pages and is divided into 5 sections—Foundation, Talk Tools, Preparation Process, On Stage and Reflection.  It’s publication means that we now have a fully-fledged official TED guide to public speaking, which undoubtedly will become one of the key reference books for speakers and presenters.

160805 C Anderson TED Talks

So if you have ambitions to become a better and more engaging speaker, do check it out here:

Trond Varlid

Access more TED videos:

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

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