How to Teach Like a TED Talk


 TED talks are social contagions.  Compelling, awe-inspiring, and unbelievable, TED presenters are super-heroes.  They are rock stars on the academic stage and captivate audiences.  The TED presenters have five characteristics that make them glow.  It would benefit teachers to adopt them.


1.  TED Talkers sparkle
Watch the first 20 seconds of Simon Sinek’s TED.  The guy glows.  A tilt of the head, a nudge of the glasses, and a squint of his eyes.  He truly has an idea that needs sharing, and his body language agrees.

TED Talkers physically react to their idea.  Sinek is comfortable but not condescending when describing his concepts.  Teachers can do the same thing and adjust their body language to convey “purpose”.

2. They teach compelling ideas
At the time of this writing, 30,723,634 was the highest number of views for a single TED talk.  30 million.  30 million is as if the whole country of Morocco watched it once, or everyone in Los Angeles watched it twice.  The topic is actually startling: How Schools Kill Creativity.  If you haven’t seen the talk, please stop reading and watch it.  It is worth your 20 minutes.

Why have 30 million people watched the video?  Schools are supposed to foster creativity, not kill it. This idea is compelling.

Transform your topics to make them compelling.  “Cells” are transformed into “living machines”, numbers into the Golden Ratio, and philosophy into “What a mind thinks with cancer” (Nietzsche).  Develop interesting topics to teach mundane subjects.  Hook you students with a mind-blowing title and be creative when you present your content.

3. TED talks are amazing displays of public speaking
Learn to talk in public.  Teaching and public speaking are indistinguishable.  Pause rather then say “um”, stop moving and talk softly to convey meaning, laugh, and talk slowly.  Scratching the surface of public speaking will make your lessons stronger.

4.  The TED presentations are visual
Hans Rosling is a fantastic example and worth your time.  Make your audience SEE your content and prioritize presentation materials that are visually stimulating.  Powerpoints are inseparable from a presentation.  Fill your slide with pictures and stay away from lengthy passages.

5.  TED talks include stories and narratives
Sean Anchor includes in his TED talk a story about his sister falling off a bed.  Irrelevant?  No, definitely not.  He connects that event in his childhood to his message about happiness.  The story also serves as an emotional stimulant; the audience likes the story and laughs with Anchor.  

Quick, descriptive, emotionally stimulating stories are powerful and are a prevalent ingredient in successful TED talks.  Incorporate stories into your lesson as hooks or use them at the end as a summary.


Thanks for reading.

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