We’re glad to have you on board to
work on this talk, which we hope
will deliver your idea successfully to
our audience and allow them to act
on it. In order to achieve this, we’ll
work together closely to ensure that
your idea will be delivered as best it
possibly can be at the event.
You are now reading a tried-and-
tested guide that will take you
through the process of preparing
and refining your talk, ensuring it
will be a first class experience for
everyone. It is important that you
follow the steps in sequence, and
don’t jump to next step before
finishing the current one.
Please don’t feel you’re on your
own at any stage of the preparation.
First of all, there are at least 10
other potential speakers also
reading this and preparing their own
talks to make this an intellectually
stimulating event. And least of all,
don’t forget us; we are here to help,
and you’re welcome to contact us
via the info at end of this document
at any time.
Finally, on behalf of the whole team,
welcome to TEDxXiguan.
Curator of TEDxXiguan
Nothing lasts forever, as we know
We are in a special era where most
of the things around us seems to
be working just fine. And it’s easy
for us to feel content with what we
have. However, human mobility
wouldn’t have leapt forward if
nobody thought about flying, and
we simply continued to develop
cars that ran faster.
It’s not about tearing down what we
have, it’s about coming at it from a
new angle, and reevaluating what
we take for granted.
As you prepare your TEDxXiguan
talk, please do not feel constrained
by this theme or that you have to
mention the theme directly in your
talk. One of the great things about
TEDx is that it covers so many
different fields in one event, we
are sure the audience will find their
own understanding of Constructive
Disruption within your particular talk.
Understand the format (1 day)
The “TED Talk”
Your idea will be in the classic “TED
Talk” format. But what is the “TED
TED Talks are a showcase for
speakers presenting well-formed
ideas under 18 minutes. If you
haven’t seen a TED Talk, go to TED.
com and watch at least one. Like
this one (may be the most watched
TED Talk of all time) Ken Robinson:
Do schools kill creativity?
For your talk, we suggest you to
keep it under 16 minutes or shorter.
Why so short?
Because it works the best with
people’s attention span and it
forces the speakers (which is
you) to refine the talk to the very
essentials and in its best format.
A great idea can be even delivered
under 5 minutes, like this one:
Joe Smith: How to use a paper
Develop an idea (3 days)
What makes a good idea for a
Like a good magazine article, your
idea can be new or surprising, or
challenge a belief your audience
already has. Or it can be a great
basic idea with a compelling new
argument behind it.
An idea isn’t just a story or a list of
facts. A good idea takes evidence
or observations and draws a larger
Do I need to be an expert on
You do not need to be the world’s
foremost expert on the topic,
but you do have to be an expert.
Please remember that the audience
relies on you to give accurate
information, so whatever you say
in your talk, please fact-check
— especially facts you may take
Step 1 Step 2
Before next step:
Write to your contact person from
TEDxXiguan team & say something
I have watched a few TED Talks
and fully understood the “TED
Talk” format, I am now entering
into Step 2.
for granted: statistics, historical
anecdotes, scientific stats. If
you’re drawing an example from a
discipline that is not your main area
of knowledge, use research from
widely accepted and peer-reviewed
sources, and, if at all possible,
consult with experts directly.
Is my idea ready?
Write your idea down in one or
two sentences. Ask yourself three
Is my idea new?
Are you telling people something
you’re pretty sure they have not
Is it interesting?
Think about how your idea might
apply to a room full of varied kinds
of people. Who might be interested
Is it factual and realistic?
If you are presenting new research,
make sure your idea is backed by
data and peer- reviewed. If you
are presenting a call to action,
make sure it can be executed by
members of your audience.
If you answered “no” to any of
these questions, refine your idea.
Ask someone you respect who
doesn’t work in your field, and if
they answer “no” to any of these
questions, refine your idea. If
your TEDx event organizing team
answers “no” to any of these
questions, refine your idea.
Before next step:
Write to your contact person from
TEDxXiguan team in one or two
sentences, how would you describe
your idea. We will get back to you within
24 hrs receiving your notice and come
back to you with one of the following:
• Great, let’s go with that
• Or ask you to elaborate a little more
on your idea
• Or challenge your idea with a few
Once we are all confident with your
idea, move onto Step 3.
Make an outline and script (2 days + 7 days)
This is the most important
step in preparation to your
talk, so please turn on your
concentration mode, read
There are many theories on
the best structure for a great
presentation. Nancy Duarte
presents a highly recommended
TED talk on this subject:
Nancy Duarte: The secret
structure of great talks.
There’s no single trick to it, but here
is at least one structure that we’ve
found to work particularly well:
1. Start by making your audience
care, using a relatable example
or an intriguing idea.
2. Explain your idea clearly and
3. Describe your evidence and
how and why your idea could
4. End by addressing how your
idea could affect your audience
if they were to accept it.
Whatever structure you decide on,
1. The primary goal of your
talk is to communicate an
idea effectively, not to tell a
story or to evoke emotions.
These are tools, not an end in
2. Your structure should be
invisible to the audience. In
other words, don’t talk about
how you’re going to talk about
your topic – just talk about it!
A strong introduction is crucial.
• Draw in your audience
members with something they
• If it’s a topic the general TED
audience thinks about a lot,
start with a clear statement of
what the idea is.
• If it’s a field they never think
about, start off by invoking
something they do think about
a lot and relate that concept to
• If the idea is something fun, but
not something the audience
would ever think about, open
with a surprising and cool fact
or declaration of relevance (not
• If it’s a heavy topic, find an
understated and frank way to
get off the ground; don’t force
people to feel emotional.
• Get your idea out as quickly as
• Don’t focus too much on
• Don’t open with a string of
In presenting your topic and
• Make a list of all the evidence
you want to use: Think about
items that your audience
already knows about and the
things you’ll need to convince
• Order all of the items in your
list based on what a person
needs to know before they can
understand the next point, and
from least to most exciting. Now
cut out everything you possibly can
without losing the integrity of your
argument. You will most likely need
to cut things that you think are
• Consider making this list with a
trusted friend, someone who isn’t
an expert in your field.
• Spend more time on new
information: If your audience needs
to be reminded of old or common
information, be brief.
• Use empirical evidence, and limit
• Don’t use too much jargon, or
explain new terminology.
• (Respectfully) address any
controversies in your claims,
including legitimate counter-
arguments, reasons you might be
wrong, or doubts your audience
might have about your idea.
• Don’t let citations interrupt the flow
of your explanation: Save them for
after you’ve made your point, or
place them in the fine print of your
• Slides: Note anything in your outline
that is best expressed visually and
plan accordingly in your script. See
• Find a landing point in your
conclusion that will leave your
audience feeling positive toward
you and your idea’s chances for
success. Don’t use your conclusion
to simply summarize what you’ve
already said; tell your audience how
your idea might affect their lives if
• Avoid ending with a pitch (such as
soliciting funds, showing a book
cover, using corporate logos).
• If appropriate, give your audience a
call to action.
Once you’re settled on your outline,
start writing a script. Be concise, but
write in a way that feels natural to
you. Use present tense and strong,
interesting verbs. Remember:
Limit your talk to just one major
idea. Ideas are complex things; you
need to slash back your content so
that you can focus on the single idea
you’re most passionate about, and give
yourself a chance to explain that one
thing properly. You have to give context,
share examples, make it vivid. Don’t be
afraid that you can’t say everything you
want to say on stage, this certainly will
not be your only chance to give a TEDx
Give your listeners a reason to care.
Before you can start building things
inside the minds of your audience,
you have to get their permission to
welcome you in. And the main tool
to achieve that? Curiosity. Stir your
audience’s curiosity. Use intriguing,
provocative questions to identify why
something doesn’t make sense and
needs explaining. If you can reveal a
disconnection in someone’s worldview,
they’ll feel the need to bridge that
knowledge gap. And once you’ve
sparked that desire, it will be so much
easier to start building your idea.
Build your idea, piece by piece,
out of concepts that your audience
already understands. You use
the power of language to weave
together concepts that already exist
in your listeners’ minds -- but not your
language, their language. You start
where they are. The speakers often
forget that many of the terms and
concepts they live with are completely
unfamiliar to their audiences. Now,
metaphors can play a crucial role in
showing how the pieces fit together,
because they reveal the desired shape
of the pattern, based on an idea that
the listener already understands.
Make your idea worth sharing.
Ask yourself the question: “Who does
this idea benefit?” You need to be
honest with the answer. If the idea
only serves you or your organization,
then, we are sorry to say, it’s probably
not worth sharing. The audience
will see right through you. But if you
believe that the idea has the potential
to brighten up someone else’s day or
change someone else’s perspective
for the better or inspire someone to do
something differently, then you have the
core ingredient to a truly great talk, one
that can be a gift to them and to all of
Watch this video by TED’s Curator Chris
Anderson on TED’s secret to great
Before next step:
Once you are happy with your outline,
send it to your contact person from
TEDxXiguan team. Then you can start
working on your script.
Once you are happy with your script
and have read it through several times,
send it to your contact person from
We will get back to you with one of the
• Great, this is the best script we can
• Or make some suggestions on how
to improve it
• Or schedule an online discussion
Create slides (4 days)
Should I use slides?
Slides can be helpful for the
audience, but they are by no
means necessary or relevant to
every talk. Ask yourself: Would my
slides help and clarify information
for the audience, or would they
distract and confuse them? Some
great examples of slides can be
found in the talks by Dan Phillips,
Jarrett Krosoczka and Rick Guidotti
on TED.com. The most important
rule for slides: Keep it simple.
I have never made slides
before, where do I start?
Assess your own skill level. You can
make great simple slides if you stick
to photographic images, running
edge-to-edge. If your slide ideas
are more complex and involve type,
consider working with a designer.
Contact your contact person from
TEDxXiguan team if you need any
What goes in my slides?
• Images and photos: To help the
audience remember a person,
place or thing you mention, you
might use images or photos.
• People will understand that the
images represent what you’re
saying, so there is no need to
verbally describe the images
• Graphs and infographics
• Keep graphs visually clear,
even if the content is complex.
Each graph should make only
• No slide should support more
than one point.
What should the slides look
• Use as little text as possible
-- if your audience is reading,
they are not listening.
• Avoid using bullet points.
Consider putting different
points on different slides.
How should the slides be
• The slides resolution should be
at least 1920x1080 pixels at a
16:9 aspect ratio.
• Use the broadcast-safe zones
in PowerPoint or Keynote. Don’t
put any information or visuals in
the far corners of your slides.
• Use font size 42 points or
• Choose a common sans serif
font (like Helvetica or Verdana)
over a serif font (like Times).
• If you use a custom font, make
sure to send it to us ahead of
time, with your slides.
I want to use an image I found
off Google Image Search but
I don’t know where it came
Don’t. This is important: Only use
images that you own or have
permission to use. If you use an
image under a Creative Commons
license, cite the source at the bottom of
your slide. If you need any help finding
suitable pictures, please contact your
contact person from TEDxXiguan team.
Before next step:
Send your slides to your contact person
from TEDxXiguan team, we might
• Do no changes to your slides be-
cause it’s perfect
• Give some suggestions on how to
Once you sent, you can start on Step 5
Rehearse (14 days)
I’ve said my talk once in my head.
Is that enough?
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! We
can’t stress this enough. Rehearse
until you’re completely comfortable in
front of other people: different groups
of people, people you love, people you
fear, small groups, large groups, peers,
people who aren’t experts in your field.
Listen to the criticisms and rehearse,
rehearse, rehearse. If someone says
you sound “over-rehearsed,” this
actually means you sound stilted and
unnatural. Keep rehearsing, and focus
on talking like you’re speaking to just
one person in a spontaneous one-way
Time yourself. Practice with the clock
winding down in front of you. Do it until
you get the timing right every time.
Practice standing still, planted firmly in
one spot on stage. Have a friend watch
you and stop you from pacing back and
forth or shifting your weight from leg to
Small steps to take in this big
1. Rehearse alone, until you can
give you talk while you are doing
something else also consume
headspace, for example, cooking.
2. Rehearse in front of family or close
friends, and ask them for their
honest and constructive feedback.
They are the people who know you
best, it should be easy for them to
get your idea instantly.
3. Schedule a rehearsal with the
TEDxXiguan team, if you are not in
Guangzhou, your rehearsal can be
done online. After this, we might
• Schedule another rehearsal with
you in about a week with some
• That your talk is in good shape and
ready for next step
4. On stage rehearsal. This will
happen one day before the actual
event. At this point we should be
very confident with the content
already, it will be only for you to get
familiar with the stage, and for our
technical team to get familiar with
Once you have ticked all of above,
well done! You have completed
preparing and now, take a deep
breath and relax, it will be a great
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