Turn your school essay into a TED-style Talk


Photo: Ryan Lash

Writing a college admissions essay (or any essay for that matter) can be grueling. BUT—did you know that once you’ve written that essay, you’re halfway to giving a TED-style Talk? So why not register with The TED-Ed Student Talks Program to complete the process, and share your ideas with the world!

If you’re a high schooler wrapping up your college admissions essay or a student working on one of many essay assignments for class, writing is probably a regular part of your school workload. Any time you write an essay, you need to discover, develop, and share an idea clearly—and these are actually the building blocks to giving a TED-style Talk. So whether you’re workshopping edits for your admissions essay, finalizing a paper for science class, or browsing through your collected essays from years passed—you’re ready to take that extra step and transform the written word into the spoken.

Here’s what you’ve already accomplished by writing your essay:

  1. You identified and explored an idea which will be the focus of your Talk.

  1. You developed a throughline: your main point or argument, the magnet to which all your points are drawn (your Talk’s connecting thread).

  2. You researched and fact-checked the claims which will support your talking points.

  3. You outlined an introduction, a body, and a conclusion that can be mirrored in your Talk arc.

  4. You combined the above elements into a cohesive whole which will provide the blueprint for your Talk.

With your essay in hand, you have the essential ingredients needed to actualize your Talk. Remember: you can accomplish things with the spoken word that you can’t with the written. You’ll sense this just by reading your essay out loud. Doesn’t this feel different from reading your essay in silence? Your job now is akin to a script editor turning a silent film into a Talkie, and both the TED-Ed screen and stage are waiting for you.

Here’s why you should turn your essay into a Talk:

  1. Your idea will be made available globally on our TED-Ed Student Talks Youtube Channel and can affect those you’ve never even met.

  1. You’ll take your idea further by expanding upon it. There are no character limits with Talks so your creativity can run wild.

  2. You’ll enhance your idea with visuals: slides, video clips, photos, and animations…images rejoice!

  3. You’ll fine-tune your public speaking skills and practice the craft (and joys!) of presenting.

  4. You’ll decide who you’re speaking to: your Talk doesn’t have to be addressed to a teacher or an admissions committee, instead you get to choose your audience.

The alchemy of turning writing into speech is at your fingertips—your Talk sits hidden in your essay and it’s awaiting to be unearthed. And while there are many exciting benefits to carving a Talk out of your essay, they all have one thing in common: you get to make the most of your written efforts by enriching, informing, and enlivening them.

So register with the TED-Ed Student Talks Program and do more with what you’ve already done: join us with a group or on your own! And maybe soon you’ll be flipping the script and transforming your TED-style Talk back into a school essay.