What Is a TED Talk?

February 7, 2023

7 min read

What Is a TED Talk

Have you ever wondered if public schools kill creativity? Or if we’re ready for the next global outbreak

TED talks go above and beyond in answering these critical questions and sparking curiosity and solutions through engaging presentations. 

Whether you have a TED talk coming up or you just enjoy TED or public speaking, Yoodli is a great resource to take advantage of. Learn how Yoodli can help improve your public speaking skills — including TED talk practice and preparation — using AI technology. 

What Is a TED Talk?

Simply put, a TED talk is a brief presentation or talk created to educate or inform audiences on important subjects — AKA “ideas worth spreading” — via a global platform. The information delivered during a TED talk is usually incredibly innovative. 

Anyone can give a TED talk. Oftentimes, the people who deliver these talks are:

  • Artists
  • Scientists
  • Business leaders
  • Researchers
  • Designers
  • Technologists
  • And others considered experts on a topic

Videographers record the talks during TEDx events, TED conferences, and various partner events to better spread the message of the speech.

Why Is It Called a TED Talk?

TED, which was founded in 1984, stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and TED talks reflect this acronym.

They’re powerful speeches that are not only meant to spread innovative ideas and concepts but also to entertain audiences. 

What’s the Difference between TED Talks and TEDx Talks?

The difference between TED talks and TEDx talks is pretty simple. Generally, TED talks reach a global audience. TEDx, in contrast, is designed for smaller audiences at a more local scale.

What Are the TED Talks Qualifications?

Although anyone can give a TED talk, there are a few qualifications. 

For one, TEDx talks need to be less than 18 minutes long. If you’re curious about how many words could be in your TEDx talk, check out how many words are in a five-minute speech to get an estimate of the words per minute you can expect.

They’re also usually presented by only one person (as opposed to a group or team of people). Q&As and panels following the presentation aren’t allowed. 

Your talk also must adhere to the “spirit” of TED, which means the presentation is “multidisciplinary, focused on the power of ideas to change lives and ultimately, the world,” instead of promoting a certain “agenda” or being “single-topic” driven.

You can check out all the TEDx talk qualifications at TED. 

Are TED Talks Free?

Although you can watch TED talks online for free, attending one in person isn’t free. 

In fact, tickets for these presentations often run for anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Usually, attendees pay thousands of dollars to witness one of these talks live.  

How to Give a Successful TED Talk

One of the best ways to give a successful TED talk is to practice.

You can’t deliver any good speech without practice, and TED talks are no different. Once you have your TED talk topic figured out and you’re confident with your speech, it’s time to put in the real work. 

Although you can always practice in front of a mirror, practicing works best when you receive actionable tips and feedback. That’s where Yoodli comes into play. 

Yoodli is an AI-powered solution to improving your public speaking skills. Built and designed by leading communication experts, Yoodli’s personalized coaching helps users build on their impromptu speaking skills in a completely non-judgmental environment, free of charge. 

Although Yoodli is often used for interview preparation, everyday conversation, and business presentation practice, it’s also the perfect communication coach for practicing and building on your TED talk.

What Is a TED Talk
Yoodli is the perfect tool for practicing your next speech, whether that’s a TED talk or a school presentation.

The process is simple. Once you’ve written and are comfortable with your TED talk speech, visit Yoodli and upload a recording of yourself practicing. If you don’t have an existing recording, you can also easily record yourself practicing directly on Yoodli’s platform. 

After practicing your talk, you’ll receive instant AI analytics. These include a real-time, complete transcript of your speech, as well as individualized insights on components like pacing, word choice, and filler words, among others

What Is a TED Talk
Yoodli’s personalized insights allow users to skip the guesswork and get straight to the improvement part.

Then, you use these analytics to take your TED talk to the next level. By skipping the guesswork on what you need to improve on, you can use Yoodli’s actionable tips and suggestions to better your public speaking skills. 

In fact, TEDx speakers have already used Yoodli for practice to help them deliver their talks. One such speaker is psychotherapist Carissa Karner. Check out her TED talk on the art of being your own best friend: 

Carissa Karner delivers a TED talk on the art of being your own best friend and what that mindset can do for you.

If you need even more motivation, check out the best public speaking books you need to read. 

What Makes a Good TED Talk?

A good TED talk embodies the “spirit” of TED. These speeches should be short in duration and should cover one topic. 

They shouldn’t be “lectures” but rather an innovative presentation of fresh ideas or concepts that can be life-changing. 

Do You Get Paid for TED Talks?

Speakers who give TED talks aren’t paid. 

However, the nonprofit does accommodate speakers by taking care of any travel costs and booking nice hotels for speakers to stay at. If you’re giving a talk, you can also expect a complete pass to the five days of the TED conference you’re speaking at.

TED Talk Topics

Speakers give TED talks that touch on a wide range of topics, from archeology to human rights to work-life balance. 

Part of what makes TED so innovative is the plethora of subjects covered. Some of the most popular topics include:

  • Health
  • Work
  • Personal growth
  • Happiness
  • Life
  • Business
  • Society

If you’re trying to choose a topic for your upcoming TED talk, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

1. Choose one thing to talk about.

This is actually one of the requirements of TED. You only have 18 minutes (or less) to deliver your speech, and you don’t want to be rambling on a handful of topics. Pick one solid idea and stick to that.

2. Have an impressive hook.

f you’re giving a TED talk, you want to start strong. In other words, have a good hook to engage the audience. There’s a chance you could lose the listener completely if you have a weak opener, so spend some time curating the first few things you aim to say in your talk. 

3. Be specific.

TED talks aren’t vague. Make sure your speech is on one specific subject that will inspire, engage, or otherwise attract the attention of the audience. If you don’t have a core idea to present, your speech will likely be weak and uninspiring. 

4. Don’t lecture the audience.

Audience members often pay thousands of dollars to listen to TED talks in person, but they’re not in attendance for a boring, mind-numbing monologue. They’re there to get the first glimpse of an exciting, engaging presentation that showcases an innovative or interesting topic.

Your audience needs an obvious key takeaway from your speech, and they won’t get that from a tedious lecture.

Why Do TED Talks Matter?

TED talks matter because they’re an important, engaging method for education and innovation. Since you can watch the talks for free (subtitles included!), they’re an accessible way to spread important information to a global audience. 

The talks given by TED speakers rely on the latest science and research. You won’t find any pseudoscience in this type of speech. They’re also unifying in nature, and are never divisive to audiences — there’s no religious or political “agenda.” In a similar vein, they’re also not promotional, so you’ll never see a TED talk speaker promoting a product or book, or any other commercial item.  

After all, these speeches have the power to change the world, and delivering one is a great privilege.  

That’s why practicing for your TED talk using a communication coach like Yoodli is so essential for a successful speech.

Using the personalized analytics from practicing your speech through Yoodli can completely transform the way you give a talk. Whether you need to improve your body language — like using more natural hand gestures or actively making eye contact — or your word choice, like using fillers, our AI speech coach can help. 

On top of the actionable tips and feedback Yoodli provides, you can also check out sample speeches to see how the most well-known leaders and speakers stack up against each other. 

Yoodli also offers a plethora of tutorials and crash courses, in addition to its many communication tools. For example, in light of TED talks, Yoodli has a complete tutorial on crafting a good speech, including the content, structure, and delivery.

If you’re writing a TED talk, try out this formula for a good speech.

The Takeaway

Yoodli is the perfect solution for practicing for your upcoming TED talk. 

There’s no other AI communication coach that provides the same valuable, individualized insights to speakers for free. Regardless if you have a TED talk coming up or you’re just interested in public speaking and communication, Yoodli is a beneficial, accessible way to improve your impromptu speaking skills.


Start practicing with Yoodli.

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