The other week marked the end of a year of speaker selection, content development and coaching for TEDxAuckland. (It also marked the beginning of another year of speaker selection, content development and coaching!). I've been lucky enough to work as content director for this event for five years now. It's one of the world's biggest, and every year we welcome up to 30 speakers and performers and up to 2500 attendees to spend a day or two experiencing some "ideas worth spreading."

I've learned a lot in those years but the most portable one – my idea worth spreading – is our formula for choosing a talk. It's an idea worth spreading because it doesn't just apply to TED... it's true for any situation where you're asking yourself, "will anyone listen?"

I believe to give a great talk (or write a great song, or make a great film) you need just three things.

1. An idea. Not five ideas, and certainly not zero (although plenty of TED talks turn out to have none). Evolution is an idea. Don't worry be happy is an idea. 

2. A personal connection. You don't have to have come up with the idea yourself (although hearing Isaac Newton talk about gravity would be cool). But it does need to have changed you, or you changed it. Test: if you could hand your notes to someone else and they could give your talk, you don't really have a strong enough personal connection. This should be a talk only you can give.

3. The skill to tell it well. This is the part speaker coaches often focus on. To be honest, though, nail the first two and we can take care of this. After coaching almost 100 speakers I've learnt that the most important speaking technique is to have a great idea, then don't let your talk get in its way.

Videos from TEDxAuckland 2016 will be online in June and I'll update this post to include a link.

1 Comment