How to talk like TED

TED (Technology/Entertainment/Design/) is celebrating its 30 anniversary in March and has transformed the art of keynote speeches. Since TED “talks” are now viewed online more than two million times a day and smaller, independently run TEDx events are held in 145 countries, there’s a good chance that people in every audience has seen a TED talk. That means, like it or not, your next presentation will be compared to TED!

After analyzing 500 TED talks (150 hours), interviewing the some of the most popular TED speakers whose videos have been viewed nearly twenty million times, and speaking to neuroscientists in the field of communication, Carmine Gallo discovered the components that all successful TED talks share; elements that should you incorporate in your very next presentation if you want your audience to take action on your ideas.

Here is Carmine’s advice from Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Tops Minds:

1. Share your passion. You cannot inspire unless you’re inspired yourself. Dig deep to identify your deep, meaningful connection to the topic and don’t be afraid of expressing your enthusiasm to your audience.

2. Tell at least three stories. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently said that she was a preparing a TED talk “chock full of facts, data and no personal stories.” A friend urged her to tell personal stories about her own challenges as a working mother. Sandberg took the advice, changed her talk, and it made all the difference, launching a bestselling book and a global movement by the same name, Lean In.

3. Create a title that fits in a Twitter post. After reviewing the titles of all 1,600 TED talks currently available on, I realized that none—not one—had a title longer than 140 characters, perfect for a Twitter post. Among the most viewed: Ken Robinson (How schools kills creativity), Brene Brown (The power of vulnerability), and Simon Sinek (How great leaders inspire action). If you can’t keep your title to 140 characters, keep trying.

4. Use humor, sparingly. Educator Ken Robinson delivered the most popular TED talk ever, viewed more than 20 million times. It was also very funny. But Ken didn’t make a “joke.” Instead he used anecdotal, observation humor. “I was a dinner party recently—actually, you’re not invited to dinner parties, frankly, if you’re in education…”Use humor to put a smile on someone’s face.

5. Build in multisensory experiences. Step outside your slides every once in a while. Perform a demonstration, or do something completely unexpected and surprising. Bill Gates once released mosquitoes into a TED audience during a presentation on the causes of malaria. His stunt even made the nightly news. People cannot ignore the unexpected.

6. Use more pictures than text on PowerPoint slides. You will rarely (if ever) see bullet points on a TED slide. You will find pictures, images, animations, and a few carefully chosen words. While presenters use PowerPoint, Prezi, or Apple Keynote design software, the common theme is—no bullet points. Ever.

7. Stick to the 18-minute rule. If doesn’t matter if your name is Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Bono, or Sting, 18-minutes is all you get. TED Curator Chris Anderson says that 18 minutes is long enough to have a serious discussion and short enough to keep people’s attention.

8. Teach your audience something new. The human brain cannot ignore novelty. It is always searching for something new and exciting. Package information in a way that’s surprising, new, or unexpected.

9. Practice, a lot. I spoke to some TED speakers who practiced 200 times for their 18-minute talks. One person performed so well that Oprah discovered her. Today her career has enjoyed a renaissance thanks to Oprah’s support and her now famous TED talk.

10. Don’t put on an act. Most people can spot a phony and you’ll lost the trust of your audience if you try to be someone you’re not. Be authentic and true to who you are.

You may never be invited to give a TED talk, but if you give TED-like presentations, you stand a far greater chance of inspiring your listeners and reaching your dreams.

(article by G.Kawasaki)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s