How Your TED Talks Get Made

The internet is enraptured by those knowledge suppositories known as TED talks. Mostly because the slick 18-minute YouTube lectures about Big Ideas let procrastinating office workers pretend they're doing something productive by watching them. But how are TED talks made? Here is a peek inside the searing forge fire mind of a TED presenter.

Today, a guy posted on Reddit: "I've Been invited to give a TEDx talk. What the hell am I going to say?" (TEDx is TED's franchising program "designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.")

I have 10 days to prepare. It was abrupt. I get the feeling they needed to fill a suddenly open spot. Topic: Where Leadership Begins (or perhaps something vaguely related to leadership, education, China (the conference is in Beijing), and of course in true TED (with the little x) style this all needs to link up to some Big Ideas.

I think I was asked because I'm involved in developing pretty unconventional educational products and services in China, with a sort of future-thinking bent to them. Other than that, I think I was just in exactly the right place at the right time (or not, depending on your opinions about TEDx events.) But very little of my experience seems like it has a real rub to it, something that I can trot out and say "This is my Big Idea."

I'm mindmapping various ideas and just doing some big catch-all notepad writing in the hopes of figuring out what I want to say. Does anyone have any advice on how to go about preparing for something like this?

Readers: do you have any futuristic Big Ideas vaguely related to leadership, education or China? Mindmap them in the comments. Maybe you'll get your very own TED talk. (Just don't mention income inequality.)

[via Alex Pareene, image via inhuyksong]