Curator Of TED Reveals The Key To Giving A Great Talk

It all comes down to one important quality.

Since 2002, Chris Anderson has been at the helm of one of the most influential ideas platforms of this era. TED conferences, through their 18-minute TED Talks, have presented innovative ways of thinking and sparked passionate global conversations on a wildly diverse range of topics, from science to faith to humanity. As TED's curator, Anderson has played a central role in this seemingly endless flow of ideas for years, helping facilitate the spread of information and valuable insight.

In his time as curator, Anderson has seen TED's eloquent speakers captivate their listeners, no matter what topic they cover or how intricate it seems. This success, he says, is often because each speaker taps into the same underlying quality that can compel any audience: curiosity. Or, as Anderson calls it, "the gateway to knowledge."

Spreading powerful ideas -- TED's fundamental mission -- can only happen by tapping into this curiosity, he adds.

"An idea is such a complicated thing," Anderson says. "Really, it can only happen if a certain door is opened and a question asked."

Successful TED speakers know just how to create these conditions and spark curiosity, which Anderson advises all thought leaders to do when giving a compelling talk.

"One of the key things we say to them is, 'What you are doing is bringing an audience on a journey. You're trying to convey an idea that's in your mind into their minds. You can't do that in a leap; you have to bring them along a journey, one step at a time, and gradually build that idea up,'" Anderson says. "Now, you can't bring people on a journey unless they want to come on a journey. The way you make them want to come on the journey is to make them curious."

Initiating curiosity should typically happen the minute the talk starts.

"That's often the best way to start a talk, with a question. 'This thing has really been bugging me. Why on earth does that happen?'" Anderson says.

The curiosity-filled journey is almost like taking the audience on a detective story, he continues.

"Unpick the clues, one by one. That way, a complex idea can be built up step by step, and at the end of your 18 minutes, a real miracle has happened: This complex thing that informs you and your worldview has been transferred into thousands of minds," Anderson says. "It all happens because of curiosity. It starts there."

This miracle extends far beyond the stages of TED, as well.

"It could open the door to, really, a very beautiful future and a flourishing of human creativity, knowledge and empathy," Anderson says. "It just fills you up and makes you so excited about the world."

The above video is from Gratitude Revealed, filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg's series of 16 film shorts that explore what gratitude is. Utilizing a diverse array of styles, approaches and his 30-plus-year archive, Schwartzberg's films show why gratitude is important and what we can all do to live more gracious lives.

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