10 Rules for Better Presentations

The TED Conference is one of the most prestigious in the world. In case you haven’t heard of it, TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds.

a public speaker making a presentation

Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged by TED to give “the talk of their lives.” Each speaker is given just 18 minutes to do so. Talk about pressure!

Fortunately, the TED conference organizers provide their speakers with ten guidelines. They refer to these as “The TED Commandments.” I had never seen these before but ran across them on Garr Reynolds’ PresentationZen blog. (And by the way, Garr’s blog is a must-read if you do any public speaking.)

These are helpful to any presenter in any situation. I commend them to thee for thine edification:

  1. Thou shalt not simply trot out thy usual shtick.
  2. Thou shalt dream a great dream, or show forth a wondrous new thing, or share something thou hast never shared before.
  3. Thou shalt reveal thy curiosity and thy passion.
  4. Thou shalt tell a story.
  5. Thou shalt freely comment on the utterances of other speakers for the sake of blessed connection and exquisite controversy.
  6. Thou shalt not flaunt thine ego. Be thou vulnerable. Speak of thy failure as well as thy success.
  7. Thou shalt not sell from the stage: neither thy company, thy goods, thy writings, nor thy desperate need for funding; lest thou be cast aside into outer darkness.
  8. Thou shalt remember all the while: laughter is good.
  9. Thou shalt not read thy speech.
  10. Thou shalt not steal the time of them that follow thee.
Question: Which of these could help you the most as a speaker? Number 4 is the one I have to keep remembering.
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