3 Tips to Talk Like TED

By Connect Staff, May 5, 2014

With more than 2 million subscribers and hundreds of millions of views on its YouTube channel, TED has set a benchmark for capturing people’s attention. What make TED talks so compelling? Carmine Gallo, author of the recent book “Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds,” offered these three suggestions in a Harvard Business Review blog. Keep them in mind as you’re designing your programming and prepping speakers for your next event.

Stories that trigger emotion are the ones that best inform, illuminate, inspire and move people to action.” —Carmine Gallo

1. Use emotion. “Stories that trigger emotion are the ones that best inform, illuminate, inspire and move people to action,” says Gallo, citing Bryan Stevenson’s talk called “We need to talk about an injustice.” It was about the Supreme Court civil rights case Miller v. Alabama, and it received the longest standing ovation in TED’s history.

2. Be novel. “One guideline that TED gives its speakers is to avoid ‘trotting out the usual shtick,’” says Gallo. “In other words, deliver information that is unique, surprising or unexpected. Bill Gates shocked an audience during a 2009 TED presentation on malaria by opening a jar of mosquitoes on stage.”

3. Emphasize the visual. In 2008, Robert Ballard gave a talk on the Titanic that contained 57 slides and no words. “When ideas are delivered verbally—without pictures—the listener retains about 10 percent,” explains Gallo. “Add a picture and retention soars to 65 percent.” When asked why he delivered an entire presentation in pictures, Ballard responded, “Because I’m storytelling, not lecturing.”


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