I love TED talks. I must have watched dozens of them, if not more. The concept of learning something new—and often inspirational—in a mere 18 minutes is my idea of fun. Some Talks have literally changed my life, like Brené Brown’s stunning talk on vulnerability and shame.
Plus, most TED talks are great talks to watch and listen to. That’s because Ted keeps a high standard and presenters usually prepare extremely well.
Talk Like TED
In his book Talk Like TED, author Carmine Gallo analyses what makes successful TED talks so engaging. His 9 ‘secrets’ aren’t exactly secrets—a lot of books on public speaking give more or less the same advice—but they are presented well, with engaging stories and the necessary scientific data to back claims up.
Here are the 9 secrets of a great Ted talk, according to the author:
- Unleash the master within: be truly passionate about your topic. Or even better: speak about stuff you’re deeply passionate about. Passion is persuasive, science shows.
- Master the art of storytelling: stories plant ideas and emotions in the listeners’ brains.
- Have a conversation: practice until you can deliver your presentation like you’d have a talk with a friend.
- Teach me something new: the human brain loves novelty, so include something to pique people’s curiosity.
- Deliver jaw-dropping moments: do like Bill gates did and unleash a jar full of mosquitoes on your audience. Or show a real-life brain. Yup, true stories.
- Lighten up: use videos, photos, and Powerpoint (or Keynote or whatever) presentations to support your talk. But use them well.
- Stick to the 18 minute rule: keep it short and sweet, so people don’t lose their attention.
- Paint a mental picture with multi-sensory experiences: make your audience see, hear, feel. The more senses you engage, the better people will remember.
- Stay in your lane: be authentic, open, and transparent.
I’ve read tons of books on this topic, so these tips weren’t exactly new or secret to me. Yet the way they were presented made the book well worth the read. Plus I actually came across some new (scientific) tidbits, like proof shorter speeches work. Most authors tell you to keep it short with the general statement that you’ll lose the audience’s attention, but the concept of ‘cognitive backlog’ described in this book made it scientifically sound.
For the lazy amongst you, the summary above is your excuse not to read Talk Like TED. For those who want to go for the A+: read the book. It will give you many ideas and tips for improving your public speaking skills.
What do you think is the ‘secret’ behind the greatest (TED) talks?
Which of these tips is essential you think?
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