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Just in time for TEDxSpokane 2018: Pro tips on making a memorable TED talk of your own 

click to enlarge TEDxSpokane event in 2017. - TEDXSPOKANE
  • TEDxSpokane
  • TEDxSpokane event in 2017.

Remember those 10-to-20 minute TED talk videos you used to watch in school or on Facebook about why we should all be feminists or about global poverty? You may have forgotten about them, but independently organized TEDx events have been and currently are popping up around the world. Spokane has hosted TEDxSpokane since 2012 with local speakers sharing ideas worth spreading. The latest edition is happening Oct. 6 at the Bing Crosby Theater.

TED talks are different from your average research presentation. Addie Grow, senior lecturer in Whitworth University's English department, taught a class called WhitTED on giving TED talk-style presentations. Students learned how to develop their research findings into interesting and compelling TED talks they presented at the end of the semester.

"I think a lot of what we focus on are the ones that seem like a merge of a lecture and a performance," she says. "That's the key to what we talk about when we are teaching this, is that we think there are reports and then there's a story and then the presentation is both of those. You have to report some, but really if you don't put it in story format, it's not very engaging."

For her instruction, Grow relies heavily on books by Nancy Duarte, an expert in presentation design, whose clients include TED. Duarte's presentation concepts include incorporating storytelling elements into your presentation to stay engaged with the audience.

Do you have the urge to develop a TED talk of your own? Here are five tips Grow recommends from Duarte's books on how to compose and deliver a kick-ass TED talk.
  1. Structure it like a story. There should be a clear beginning, middle and an end, with a rise and fall of action. Incorporate a hero's journey, call to action, call to adventure and a big idea.
  2. Make the audience the hero in your story. The presenter is not the hero, but rather someone who guides the audience through their hero's journey.
  3. Incorporate contrast. Throughout the presentation, incorporate contrast in content, emotion and delivery. Switch between what is and what could be in your topic.
  4. Slides shouldn't suck. Your slides are not a replacement for you. They should be visuals that back up what you are doing. If you put text on your slides, it should be manipulated for a reason to provide contrast or emphasis.
  5. Resonate. This is the ultimate key to a good TED talk. If your presentation does not resonate with the audience, then it is worthless.
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