What Makes a Good TED Talk?

A good TED Talk is one that:

  • Reaches a lot of people
  • Causes them to take action (not just applaud)
  • Creates real results for the speaker (paid speaking, book deal, coaching clients, and soon)

With those criteria in mind, here are the factors that control how good your TED Talk is.

Factors that Affect The Results of a TED Talk

1. Event Quality

The best TEDx events have larger stages, better videography, larger audiences (both in person and online, both of which give your talk an initial boost), and they provide more support and practice sessions for you as a speaker so you rock your TEDx talk. Event selection goes a long way to ensuring you have a great TED talk.

Check out the difference between these two TEDx stages to get a sense of how much the event you speak at affects how good your TEDx talk is.

2. An Attention-Grabbing YouTube Title

The only two factors that control how many views your talk gets organically are the title and the thumbnail (which will simply be a photo of you speaking on the stage, and is affected by the event you speak at).

We’ve already discussed event selection, but regardless of which event you speak at, you always have control of crafting a great title.

My guide on how to title a TED Talk shows you how to do this (it covers the best title formats, adding power words, etc)

YouTube also has length limitations for your title (which depend on the event you speak at, the length of your name, and so on), which my TED Talk title guide also covers.

3. A Captivating Introduction

Most YouTube videos have an audience retention rate of 30%. In other words, the average viewer only sees the first 30% of a video before leaving to watch something else.


This is entirely different than in-person speaking, where it’s very rare for anyone to get up and walk out in the middle of a talk. Someone in the audience may be bored for a few moments, but you can always re-engage them later.

Online, they leave forever.

Check out how to start a TED Talk for 6 compelling intro ideas for your TED Talk.

4. A Compelling Topic

The best stage and speaker in the world can’t save a boring/dull topic. For your TED Talk to be as good as possible, your message has to provide real value to people, not just rambling about your story and experiences.

A good TED Talk always comes as a result of starting with good topics for a TED Talk.

5. An “Arousing” Conclusion

Studies show that content that raises the audience’s heart rate is more likely to be shared.

You can do this with a conclusion that:

  • Creates “high arousal” emotions like awe, humor, or even anger (but not sadness or pity)
  • Is funny
  • Has the audience moving physically

My guide on how to end a TED Talk shares examples of TED Talks that use various conclusion techniques.

6. Speaker Skill & Preparation

A factor not to be missed is the presentation skill and preparation of the speaker. But the other factors are not to be forgotten: 

  • An amazing speaker that speaks at an unfilmed event can’t be heard
  • An amazing speaker with a title that doesn’t cause clicks won’t be heard
  • An amazing speaker with a poor intro or topic (even if the title works) won’t be watched for long

What Makes a GREAT TED Talk?

Only 5% of TED Talks get 50,000 views or more.

Here are some things that can push your talk from good to great from my experience working with people who have reached this level.

1. Existing Speaker Social Media Following

The larger your existing following is, the bigger of a boost your talk will get at first. The people who have the most views on their talk normally start with a large following.

2. Advertising

You can run paid ads to drive traffic to your talk. This is a great strategy if you run a business (and you can see how more attention to your talk can have an ROI)

3. Effort & Time

No talk gets a million views on day 1, but if you’ve done everything else right and your talk is truly useful to people, they’ll recommend it, and YouTube will recommend it.

You’ll also need to keep telling people about it, again and again. 

A great TED Talk doesn’t come from sitting back and relaxing. It comes from a continual effort to tell the right people about it.

Ryan Hildebrandt
Ryan Hildebrandt
Articles: 31

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *