Talk Like Ted

George Drivas BWR Leave a Comment

Full Title: Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo, Paperback: 288 pages (Introduction, 3 Parts, 9 Chapters), St. Martin’s Griffin Publisher, March 10, 2015

The author: Carmine Gallo is a popular keynote speaker and an independent journalist. He is President of Gallo Communications Group and a contributor for He is regarded as an expert in the field of business communications and leadership skills. Gallo has lectured to MBA students at Stanford, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. Carmine Gallo is also the author of “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” (read a review here).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ideas Are the Currency of the 21st Century

Part I: Emotional

Chapter 1: Unleash the Master Within

Chapter 2: Master the Art of Storytelling

Chapter 3: Have a Conversation

Part II: Novel

Chapter 4: Teach Me Something New

Chapter 5: Deliver Jaw Dropping Moments

Chapter 6: Lighten Up

Part III: Memorable Chapter 7: Stick to the 18-Minute Rule

Chapter 8: Paint a Mental Picture with Multisensory Experiences

Chapter 9: Stay in Your Lane

Why This One?

TED Talks, after more than 30 years on the scene, have acquired the reputation as the standard in the field of presenting and public speaking. Once you have experienced one there is no going back. It is understandable why there is so much interest in the topic.

Carmine Gallo, author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs (2009), has identified the 9 common elements that make TED Talks so successful. Especially, after scrutinising 500 of them. He describes and discusses one of these secrets in each chapter of the book. Furthermore, the chapters are grouped in three sections considering the emotional, the novel and the memorable aspect of each presentation. There is reference to actual TED speaker interviews that provide insights about how these presenters prepare a TED talk. You may feel you want to rush to the TED website to view the talks yourselves.

The so called “TED Style” pervades nearly every aspect of our society: business, education, healthcare, nonprofits according to Gallo. There is no denying that it is unique, engaging, captivating, motivating, effective. However, it should not be considered as “one solution fits all”. There are occasions where audience, content and goal considerations might require different approaches.

That being said, the four main characteristics of a TED Talk – mastering and using storytelling, focusing on ideas rather than data, delivering “jaw-dropping moments”, speaking conversationally – make a successful presenter/public speaker. According to TED speaker Robert Ballard, the explorer who discovered Titanic: “A speaker’s mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire.”

What such an approach requires is practice. Practice before you present. Additionally, ways of checking what works and what does not. This activity is not featured in the book. If a speaker is to develop into a TED Speaker they need to formulate new habits, some of which may be difficult, subtle, complex, tricky. This book does not prescribe a recipe that is to be copied and followed precisely. It is rather a set of suggestions that will point the reader in the right direction in the hope that a personalized style will develop over time; and practice.

In all fairness, chapter 3 discusses this issue. At the same time it disguises it under conversation. This way practice lacks the prominence it deserves as a personal development tool and lack of practice may be the reason why so many worthwhile talks go wrong.

Overall, Talk Like TED is a valuable attempt to dissect this prevailing genre of public speaking. It provides insights and understandings of what it is and why it has become so influential. Most importantly, it includes an extensive reference to TED speakers which readers can definitely explore on their own: there is unquestionably a lot to be learned from the experts.

All Things Presentations
George Drivas

George Drivas

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I consider myself as innovative and strategic, motivational, discreet and amicable, thorough and effective. Sometimes I think I try too hard!

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