Tips from TED: 10 Commandments of Public Speaking

You must know what TED Talks are.  If you do, skip the rest of this paragraph.  If you don’t, please go to and click on any one of the videos that you see.  Or go to one of my favorites, such as any talk given by Hans Rosling or Rory Sutherland.  I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites too if you wander around, watch, and listen.

TED talks are 18 minutes long.  Wisely, I think, because research suggests that 18 minutes is about the length of time that human attention can effectively sustain itself.

I have attached below the instructions that invited speakers receive from TED.  They are absolutely right on the money.

If you read nothing else to help you become a better speaker, read TED’s Ten Commandments.   Here they are, right here, right now!

The TED Commandments

These 10 tips are given to all TED Conference speakers as they prepare their TEDTalks. They will help your 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.

The great thing about TED is its commitment to big ideas from people who speak well.  Public speaking has historically been the tool for men and women of greatness to spread big ideas.  Virtue, freedom, justice, holiness, compassion–all these have been trumpeted into the listening world through the channel of public speaking.  And these 10 items are basic and sound instruction for anyone who wants to be a highly effective speaker.

TED uses the power of public speaking to spread big ideas and light up the world.

Go to whenever you feel the need to feed your heart, mind, and spirit.


Sims Wyeth & Co. provides public speaking coursesleadership skillspresentation skillsvoice trainingspeech trainingspeech writing, and courses that address stage fright, body language, presentation strategy, persuasive speaking, sales training, and effective use of PowerPoint, all of which contribute to greater executive presence and personal impact.
  Related Posts