Why the length of a TED talk is the key to its success…

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Almost everyone is aware of the enormous popularity TED talks have gained in the last few years. TED – a non-profit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” attracts some of the world’s most coveted speakers in a wide range of fields for its talks. The ever growing catalogue of free and insightful information is a huge part of why TED has been growing in popularity over the last 5 years – I believe second only to that is because of the length of the talks.

TED talks are never longer than 18 minutes and as Chris Anderson – the curator of TED puts it, “It’s long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It’s the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily.”

When clients, who are looking to record lectures or town hall events to be distributed online approach us, we always stress the importance of distilling down the talk to a shorter and manageable length – like the magical 18 minute mark for example. This however, is not always possible. In the case of longer format content, we highly recommend breaking up the lecture in to sections or modules so that those interested in seeing the whole talk can (at their leisure), but those who do not can click ahead to specific sections which may interest them. FORA TV does a great job handling this aspect with their online content, most of which is often longer than the 18 minutes mark.