The TED Commandments

17 01 2011

If you are working as a presenter and you haven’t heard of TED then you are in for a treat. Go to and lose yourself in some of the most inspiring talks from some of the world’s most interesting speakers.

If you are familiar with TED you might have wondered why TED is so unique, so unlike the usual stuff that is trotted out either in a lecture by an academic or by a CEO in a press conference. A large part of this is due to there being commandments that are sent to each potential speaker. The commandments according to TED are as follows.

  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 Desparate 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

Wise words indeed…

I especially like Thou shalt tell a story as it fits in with the third of our evaluation criteria (what’s the story?). And a lot of what is left seems to apply to the second of our criteria (who’s the audience?).

Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success is another very powerful piece of advice that reminds me of a lecture that was given by Alan Alda to the commencement class at Caltech. I will write more about this soon.




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