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How to Craft an Excellent TEDx Talk

TEDx events and talks are quickly becoming a way in which great ideas can be shared. Now, many cities have TEDx events, and many of the TEDx videos are available online. I had a chance to speak at TEDxRaleigh last December. Doing so was a great experience, not just during the talk, but in preparing for it.

The TEDx format has many different parameters than say, a conference keynote or a convention breakout session. While constricting, these parameters made me a better speaker. So, if you have a chance to give a TEDx talk soon or you're at an event and someone asks you to "say a few words," keep these tips in mind to stand out:

Keep it short

TEDx events ask you to keep your talk under 18 minutes, mainly so the video recording has a chance to be uploaded to the TEDx YouTube channel. TED also knows that speaking longer than that and the audience can lose interest. Better yet, some of the most memorable TED or TEDx talks I've seen are incredibly short, like less than five minutes. Unlike other speaking gigs, where you're asked to fill a half-hour or hour block, speaking on a TEDx stage for just six minutes can be a very good thing. Take all the time you need, as long as it's less than all the time they give you.

Settle on one core idea

At the core of TED and TEDx events are "ideas worth spreading." This is the ultimate theme of your speech. What is the one core idea you want to spread as the result of your talk? Start big when planning your talk, but boil all the fluff away until you're left with the one unforgettable idea that you want people to remember. Try to even limit this idea to 140 characters so people in the audience can share it immediately online.

Once you have your core idea worth spreading, you can add back how you'll arrive at that point and which illustrations to use, so as long as your talk is still short.

Speak with authority

So many public speakers seem to want to make suggestions when speaking, so as not to offend. You may hear, "So, if you want, you should try to..." The audience isn't sure if they should do what you advise since you don't really seem to care whether or not they actually implement your knowledge. But, with TEDx, you have to be authoritative. You were chosen to speak because of your expertise in a certain area. You're good enough! You're qualified! Speak as one who is credentialed. Your way is the right way. Believe it and let that shine through in your talk. Don't give suggestions, tell the audience a plan.

Polish it up

At a TEDx event, you're speaking to two audiences. The first is made up of the people in the same room who are there for the live event. The other is the larger, global audience who will watch the video of your talk. While much of the video production details will be out of your hands, you can control your "ums" and "uhs." You can make sure you speak clearly and come across as authoritative on camera. Your talk has a chance to live forever online, so be sure to practice like hell until you get it right.

Of course, many of these ideas apply to any speaking situation. If any audience remembers what you said long after you stopped talking, you've done a great job. And, here's my TEDxRaleigh talk. Enjoy:

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