Scientific Presentations
The Assertion-Evidence Approach

Exercise: Delivering a TED-Style Talk
Guiding your audience through the scenes


This exercise calls on you to create and deliver a 5-10 minute TED-style talk. The purposes of the exercise are to give you experience creating a talk in the TED style and to practice engaging an audience when you project slides. In this exercise, you are to create a talk that details your experience at college. For context, assume that you will present this experience to high school students and their parents visiting your institution. To support your presentation, create a series of slides that show images of your experience. While you should write a message for each slide in the Notes Page of the slide, base your slides on images, not words. Once you have your story and your supporting series of images, practice the talk until you can deliver it without notes.


Step 1. Learn the key principles of a TED talk.

1. Build your talk on key messages.
2. Design a scene based on images to support each message.

Note that the first principle of TED talks is the same as the first principle of assertion-evidence talks. While the second principle often requires artistry, you can build a simple TED talk with blank (black) slides and with photos that bleed the screen. See the student example to the right.

Step 2. Use the example slides as a model to create your own slides.
Using the presentation slides on the right as a model, create a 5-10 minute presentation that captures your journey in college. For context, assume that you will present this journey to high school students and their parents visiting your institution. As is done in the example, anchor the slides in images, not words.

Step 3. Practice your talk.
Practice your talk so that you can deliver it without notes. The best presenters of science and engineering act as tour guides, leading their audiences through the scenes. This style is not memorization, because you fashion the sentences on the spot. Nor is this style speaking off the cuff (also called impromptu), because the talk is structured ahead of time and you have practiced.

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Content Editor: Michael Alley