Problem with TED Talks from Bob B



TED says its mission statement is to "spread ideas."

Their website states: "TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks of 18 minutes or less."

Well, I enjoy many TED talks.

But perhaps the folks at TED may be overvaluing their mission of spreading ideas -- and also their methodology for implementing it.

Implicit in the TED mission statement, or at least it seems to me, is their belief that ideas are the most valuable thing in the world.

But there's a large group of people -- and I am among them -- who believe that ideas without action have extremely limited value.

The elements of many TED talks I hear are as follows:

  1. State the problem, which is often also the big idea; e.g. we will burn the Earth unless we stop using fossil fuels.
  2. Proof -- including science, observations, and critical thinking -- that the big idea is in fact true and a dire problem.
  3. In a brief close, a few bullet points that suggest what might be done to solve the problem.

#1 and #2 are "why to do something about it." #3 is "what to do."

But the most important part is largely missing, which is:

  • HOW to do it.

In 18 minutes, you can, with a lot of preparation and practice, construct and deliver a TED-style talk addressing "what" and "why."

But 18 minutes is insufficient to delve into the "how to do it," especially with specifics, details, and examples.

"A serious mistake professional speakers make is stubbornly sticking to usual methods of talk construction, instead of acknowledging the distinction [of a] TED style talk," writes Hayley Foster in her short book, "Don't Tank Your TED Talk."

Though you may aspire to give a TED talk, I for one do not. The reason is that I am a high-content speaker. My mission is to give my audience actionable advice as well as tell them HOW TO do what I advise.

TED speakers as a group embrace the 18-minute "sharing a big idea" TED format.

As a content speaker, webinars, workshops, and online master classes work better for me.

And from experience, I know my trainings can and have enabled students to make positive changes and increase their mastery of the skill sets I teach.

One of my alumni recently told me the money he made using my how-to instruction paid him back more than double the $5,000 course tuition -- before he even finished the program!

I tell you this not to brag, but to support my position that the value of how-to training usually beats short "idea" talks by a country mile.


Bob Bly
Copywriter / Consultant
31 Cheyenne Dr.
Montville, NJ 07045

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