3 Can’t-Miss TED Talk Takeaways You Can Apply Today

Ted Talk TakeawaysAs I click my fourth YouTube link in the past hour, I realize I’m here again. With over 2,300 recorded videos of engaging performers, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of discovering new TED talk takeaways.

And if you haven’t caught the TED bug yet, you soon will.

The lessons to be learned at TED conferences extend far beyond technology education and design. They apply in the business and startup world as much as they do anywhere else. These three talks contain golden insights for startup founders and entrepreneurs from some of the most well regarded TED speakers…

TED Talk Takeaway #1: Take the Carrot off The Stick

Traditional business incentives can be bit like a carrot dangled from a stick. Daniel Pink illustrates that the incentive systems we tend to lean on in business aren’t always the best for solving complex problems. His TED talk is full of great ideas, but how can they be leveraged for startups?

Don’t let your functional tasks distract you from solving the bigger problem. When you deliver a solution for one customer, spend the time finding ways to create processes to automate that function so you can keep your eyes on the prize.

TED Talk Takeaway #2: Give Everything to Your First Followers

Startup founders tend to be thought of as the valiant hero, the mystical “idea guy” or “idea girl.” But as Derek Sivers points out, the first follower transforms the lone lunatic into a visionary. It’s the first follower that creates momentum and legitimizes the founder’s effort.

When you find your first follower, or first followers, and treat them like co-founders (because as Sivers says, they pretty much are) and listen with the right feedback systems.

TED Talk Takeaway #3: Create “Aha” Moments

Joshua Foer takes a complex concept–how to develop a world-class “perfect” memory–and simplifies it in a way the entire audience can understand. I love that he begins by not just asking for the audience’s attention, but demanding with an intriguing introduction. He creates a narrative arc based on showing his point (not telling the audience about it) that gets the everybody nodding along, as if they subconsciously agree with him.

Foer closes his talk by creating an “aha” moment, one that leaves a lasting impression about how memory works. It’s like Foer lets the audience in on a secret–and this privilege, this exclusivity, is a powerful selling effect. For another example of this, check out how Apollo Robbins lets the audience in on the way pick pockets leverage misdirection in his TED talk.

Structure pitches like stories. Think like Foer and Robbins. Show your audience what you mean. Instead of merely telling them about it, allow your words to carry some weight. Aim for the “aha” moment.

Make the Magic Happen

Verge founder and president, Matt Hunckler, was able to give a TED talk at TEDxIndianapolis in October and learn from the experience. Keep an eye out for the video later this month.

What are some of your favorite TED talk takeaways? Share your video links and takeaways in the comments below…

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About Alec Synnestvedt
Alec Synnestvedt
Executive Director at Verge. Circle city enthusiast. Connector of dots and people. Writer of songs, non/fiction and, I hope, the future.
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