The Secret to a Great TED Talk

Recently I learned from two separate people how the Obama campaign won the 2008 presidential election and it’s fascinating. ¬†Basically everyone who was a part of it learned the “campaign narrative” structure and delivered their personal message to spread the gospel:

  • The Story of Me: why I’ve personally been inspired by this campaign
  • The Story of We: why we (me speaking and you listening) are united and inspired by this campaign
  • The Story of Now: why it’s urgent that you take action now; the train is leaving and you can jump aboard or be left behind

If you think about it, this is a very powerful narrative for creating grass-roots action of any sort. ¬†Having just spent the last week watching many dozens of TED talks (and having watched hundreds of them over the past few years), I’ve been thinking about the fact that the great ones all follow a shared structure, which I will share with you now:

  • The Story of Me: sharing something personal, preferably something that makes me vulnerable, and gives you a reason to care about what I have to say
  • The Story of Wrong: how I once believed X, and through a series of events have now come to believe “not X”
  • The Story of What If: an invitation to you to consider my new theory that explains the world better than X did