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May 23, 2013


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C.C. Chapman

Solid post my friend.

I know last winter when I gave my TEDx talk what I kept telling people is you prepare, practice and prepare some more.

It is exciting and crazy, but completely rewarding.

Nick Morgan

Hi, David --

It was great working with you on the talk, and a lot of fun seeing the story take shape as you put it through its rehearsals and iterations.

What David isn't saying is that it is his drive for excellence, his focus, and his willingness to work incredibly hard that made the speech so good. David is a consummate professional, and he's expert at his craft. It shows.

Speakers tell me all the time that they want to wing it, because spontaneous is better, and I inwardly groan. You can't get better by hoping for the best. Take David's experience to heart! If you want to get better at speaking, you've got to practice.

David Meerman Scott

C.C. - Thanks! I saw your video and loved your talk. Your preparation showed. And you did yours a lot farther from Boston than I did.

Nick - Thank you again for your help and the kind words here. Yes, I worked hard on this one.

Mike Martel

Speaking at a TED event is one my bucket list. This is a great how to for perpetuation. Thanks!

David Meerman Scott

Mike - go for it. Hope you enjoy the process as much as I did.

Michael Diamond

Great post, and great topic. I did a keynote presentation at an innovation conference a couple weeks ago, and since the organizers wanted it to be "TED-like", I read Donovan's book, which was great. I have done a number of presentations and want to share one problem I had with this last one, in the event it is of use to a future presenter.

The conference was held in a very nice theatre. The "practice" the organizers set up was pretty lightweight and didn't simulate the actual environment.

I waited backstage while they kicked off the conference, and after I was introduced I walked on stage. It was at that moment I realized they had full "theatre" lighting and while I was bathed in maximum brightness, I couldn't see a single person in the audience.

As a presenter, this is very unsettling. I always enjoy seeing the non-verbal feedback of my audience - the head nod, the smile, the active note-taking. I felt very disconnected as a result and presentation wasn't gratifying to me since I lacked that important energy source to feed off of during the talk. I did get great feedback post-presentation, but it wasn't like some other presentations where I've been able to "connect" during the talk.

Lesson: Make sure you scout out every last detail of your environment before your talk. Tell the AV staff that you're there to form a bond with the audience - not perform for them. Hope this is useful.

Jeremey Donovan

Wow David, I am so glad that you found my book - "How to Deliver a TED Talk" valuable! I've admired your from afar and am deeply honored. Congrats on your talk!

Sometimes TED/TEDx speakers ask me if I could give just one piece of advice what would it be? The most important thing is to have ONE central idea that forms the spine of your talk. If it is an idea you are passionate about it, the rest will come easier.

David Meerman Scott

Michael - I spoke at an event some years ago where the same thing happened to another presenter who went on after me. He froze. Couldn't move. His deep animal fears paralyzed his body for a full 20 seconds. It was terrible. I was fine because I had insisted on seeing the lights. Now I actually have a technology check requirement written into my speaker agreements for my professional gigs. At TEDx I was able to get into the venue the evening before and walk the stage. Thanks for jumping in on this important issue.

Hi Jeremey. Thanks for writing a great book. It was very helpful to me. That one piece of advice is indeed critical. Thank you.

Mary SIceloff

I'm working on my TEDx talk now, and this post was very valuable! Thanks for taking the time to put it all down.

David Meerman Scott

Good luck with yours Mary! Have fun with it.

Sandy Gerber

This is great! I think these are great principles to keep in mind for any speaking engagement. Then one day if we're lucky enough, we can take all that experience it and jolt it into one awesome Ted Talk as you were able to do. I am so impressed by the amount preparation you went through to do this. Great job! Glad to see that Ted Talks have commandments and that the speakers take them so seriously. Clearly this is why their content is so valued, because so much thought and preparation goes into that short 15 minutes!

David Meerman Scott

Sandy, Yes, these ideas are certainly valid in preparing for any speaking gig. However, in my experience, most speakers just "wing it". Hopefully you can use some of the ideas in your own speeches.

Andreea Leau

Hy David! I'm really glad that you had the opportunity to have a speach at TEDx. I think it's a really honor to be part of the TEDx team. I never thought that having a speach could be so complicated. Complicated like having so many rehearsals, but only in this way you can be a professional speaker. I think all the advices from TEDx team were priceless. Congrats for your speach :)

Justin McClelland

Great story on how you prepped for your TedX talk. I aspire to complete a talk before the mid of next year and have a ways to go. Your article here provides a great resource as I can follow in your prep footsteps a bit. Thanks.

David Meerman Scott

Justin - Go for it. Doing a TEDx is a rewarding experience.

Brian Sharp

Great article David. TED is a slightly different animal than your typical keynote and I think you have nailed some really helpful advice. Thanks!

Fons Trompenaars

Hi, I am Fons Trompenaars this is a great story of TEDx. Thanks for sharing this useful info.


HI David

Thanks for posting this great info. I'm in the process of creating my TEDx talk. I'm usually a wing-it kind of guy but for this presentation, I'm planning and practicing.

I have 31 days to get my presentation in order and this info is very timely and appreciated.



David Meerman Scott

Craig - Glad that it helped. Good luck with your TEDx talk!

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