The basic TED structure: To capture the spirit of a TED conference, we recommend you follow TED's own program structure -- it's evolved over 25 years of TED!

  • Format: Powerful, short talks focused on a single topic or idea. No talks exceed 18 minutes. Shorter talks are interspersed throughout. No keynote speeches -- all speakers are equal. No panel discussions. No breakout sessions. No Q&As. No podiums or lecterns.
  • Schedule: We typically program 90-minute sessions, with four full-length speakers and a few short presentations. A full day would have four sessions, broken up by "conversation breaks" and lunch, and concluding with a reception/dinner. Be sure to allow generous breaks between sessions (your audience needs time to think about what they've seen), and try not to over-program! (It's stressful for you and for your audience.) No session should last longer than 105 minutes. Pad each session with an extra 15 minutes, to account for transitions, introductions and other small delays that inevitably occur. Keep a steady rhythm.

Creating a program lineup Within each session, you'll want your program to cover a mix of topics that relate loosely to each other, allowing the audience to make connections and draw their own conclusions.

  • Think big: Encourage your speakers to connect their work and thinking to big topics -- the universe, the future, global ideas ...
  • Start strong: You'll want to open people's minds right from the start -- so be sure your event has a very strong opening.
  • Mix it up: Break up your program with thrilling demonstrations and moving performances. Throw in a few shorter talks or counterpoints.
  • End with emotion: Save the most emotionally gripping speakers and TEDTalks for the end. This is when your attendees are most open to being moved. It will leave them with a feeling that will stay with them -- perhaps motivate them into action.

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