Talk Prep – Out Loud

I promised that I would share part of the journey to my talk in Australia in June.  I do this because it will help me make more sense of what I am trying to accomplish and it will also let me share the prep that goes into making a TED-style talk; something totally new for me.

As a side note, I was very happy to learn that Harold Jarche will also be speaking on the Workplace Learning track, as will Joyce Seitzinger. It will be nice to see Harold again, and I look forward to meeting Joyce.

There’s a pretty good raft of resources available to tell you how to prep for a TED-style talk, to say nothing of having a lot of TED talks to watch and follow. The thing is, you need to dig deeper into the structure of the talk to get a better sense of how they work.  I’m here to tell ya: its more complicated than it looks.

I started by sharing out a few thoughts and sketched out some ideas for what I wanted to convey.  The challenge on my end is that I’m trying to weave together two disparate work scenarios into a single, cohesive talk. But after listening to some aloud narration (while driving) of the bits I had assembled, it was clear that I needed to go back to basics.

As much as I like things like rapid prototyping or successive approximation, it wasn’t working for the talk. That was one of the dangers of seeing what “done” looked like; I wanted to start replicating various elements of what I was seeing and hearing in many of these talks.  To that end I was using Evernote to draft and re-draft, and edit the speech, but it wasn’t working. was a tool I really liked for its replication of a post-it framework for brainstorming, but they changed their pricing model since I used it last and the cost was too hard to justify.  I didn’t see any similar tools that would connect to Evernote, so I went back to a tried-and true approach: mind mapping. 


Mind Map screen cap

Screen Capture from my SimpleMind+ tool


Somewhat chastened at not going this route in the first place, I took the 5 key take-always from my talk and used them as the major points from which to add and link ideas. I am going to keep building these ideas and start to connect them.  In some ways this goes back to what I did in grad school with the rubric and assignment outlines.  I would use the questions from there to form the main headings in a paper and that kept me on track. Simple and formulaic, sure, but it kept me on-task and focused on what I was doing.

I am hopeful this approach for my talk will have similar results.


More to come as the talk evolves.


About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on March 1, 2015, in Insiders, personal development, reflection and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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