TED (technology, entertainment, design) is a presentation format that invites thought leaders to share their ideas during a formal TED conference. A TED-style talk is highly inspiring, and you can use the same structure to deliver your next speech.


Choose a topic that you are highly passionate about. Although there are many objectives to a speech – to persuade, to sell, to inform or to teach – every speaker ultimately is there to instil change. As a speaker, you will be in a better position to install change within your audience if you are excited about your subject matter. Successful speakers are those who cannot wait to share their message with their audience. Energy is transferable – if you are excited about your topic, you can transfer that energy to your audience.

Build in personal stories within your talk that hints at your experience and credibility as a speaker. The Greek Philosopher Aristotle – one of the founding fathers of communication theory – believed that persuasion occurs when three components are represented. Ethos means credibility: we tend to agree with people whom we respect for their achievements, titles or experience. Logos means persuasion through logic, data and statistic, and pathos the act of appealing to emotions. Stories are a way of appealing to emotions. Good stories are structured using a movie format: first introduce the key characters to the plot, then explain the challenge you faced and how you resolved it, ending with lessons learnt and how those lessons can be related to your audience.

Package your content into a teachable format that is easy for your audience to remember. You can do this through a visual diagram or an acronym. Build your speech around the three points that you want your audience to know.

Contextualise your message using relevant quotes, facts, statistics and graphs. If you choose to use PowerPoint as a presentation aid, restrict the use of text and replace it with high-quality visuals and diagrams – one image per slide.

Review your content and think of creative ways to present it that appeals to multiple senses through the use of videos, photos, audio clips, stories and props.

Keep to the 18 minute-time limit – this is sufficient time to inspire change.


Dineshrie Pillay CA(SA) – Public Speaker Trainer and Business Owner (Accountancy SA)