TED Talks

I am sure you have seen at least one TED talk in your life, and the style is instantly recognisable to millions. But just ten years ago very few would have heard of the organisation, and the idea of watching a video lecture for entertainment or interest would have been quite unusual. So how did it all start? You can read a brief history of TED here, then answer these questions.

What does TED stand for?

When was the first TED event held?

What presentations could you see at the first event?

Who is Richard Saul Wurman?

When was the second TED event held?

What kind of people presented? When were the first TED talks posted online?

What is the Open Translation Project?

What was celebrated in Vancouver in 2014?

What is the TED Fellows Program?

By the autumn of 2012, how many times had TED’s online videos been watched?

What was the theme of the 30th Anniversary Conference?

So, what are the characteristics of a TED talk?

In this presentation, Sebastian Wernicke analyses every talk to find the quintessential, proto-TED talk.

His tool allows you to automatically generate good and bad TED talks. Maybe you can be famous on the internet too…..

This generator will make you talk on any topic you like!

A typical TED talk might go like this;


The presenter introduces the topic through a personal story. She then poses a problem. She may give us some statistics or other empirical evidence to show why this is a problem. She will give us her suggested solutions, and finish with a strong concluding message.

Presentation Style

The presenter may speak reasonably quickly, but often leaves pauses for emphasis. Many presenters use gesture, and almost none use notes. Presenters stand, and may move around the stage.


The slides the presenter uses are often simple, plain text, or pictures without text. The talk is filmed with more than one camera – one behind the presenter so the viewer can see the audience, the main camera focused on the presenter in a medium shot, and perhaps one more camera at distance. Sometimes, the video is intercut with slides from the presentation. The camera angle changes are between ten and thirty seconds apart.

Here is a fairly typical talk. It is about five minutes long. Does it follow the template described above?

For homework, please watch any TED talk you choose and complete this form. Be ready to discuss the talk in class together next week.

TED Talk Analysis (pdf)

TED Talk Analysis (word document)

Now you have completed your TED Talk, please leave your feedback here.


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