Speaker Tips

This selection of speaker tips is comprised of summaries and excerpts from Carmine Gallo’s book Talk Like Ted: The 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds

Emotional – Touch the hearts of your audience

"The key part of the TED format is that we have humans connecting to humans in a direct and almost vulnerable way. You’re on stage naked, so to speak. The talks that work best are the ones where people can really sense that humanity. The emotions, dreams, imagination” -Chris Anderson, curator, TED

Unleash the Master Within

  • Identify your unique and meaningful connection to your presentation topic. If you find your topic fascinating and interesting and wonderful, it’s more than likely your audience will, too.
  • Passion leads to mastery and your presentation is nothing without it.
  • Passion is contagious, and you cannot inspire others until you are inspired yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your excitement. It will rub off on your audience.
  • If your motivation is to share your passion with your audience, it’s likely that you’ll feel less nervous about speaking in public.
  • TEDnote
    • Ask yourself, “What makes your heart sing?” Your passion is not a passing interest or even a hobby. A passion is something that is intensely meaningful and core to your identity. Once you identify what your passion is, can you say that it influences your daily activities? Can you incorporate it into what you do professionally? Your true passion should be the subject of your communications and will serve to truly inspire your audience.
  • If your motivation is to share your passion with your audience, it’s likely that you’ll feel less nervous about speaking in public.
  • Watch Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and Aimee Mullins demonstrate unleashing the master within in their presentations

Master the Art of Storytelling

  • Tell stories to reach people’s heart and minds
  • Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view
  • Stories turn abstract concepts into tangible, emotional, and memorable ideas.
  • Three simple, effective types of stories
  • Telling stories is the virtual equivalent of taking people on a field trip, helping them to experience the content at a much more profound level
  • When you tell a story, by all means use metaphors, analogies, and vivid language, but eliminate clichés, buzzwords, and jargon. Your audience will tune out phrases they’ve heard a million times.
  • Three simple, effective types of stories
    • Personal stories start many of the most popular TED presentations. They grab attention in nearly every communication format
    • Stories about other people can also be used to create empathy
    • Stories about brand success. Every brand, every product, has a story, find it and tell it.
  • Bryan Stevenson, who received the longest standing ovation in TED history, and Sir Ken Robinson, who delivered the most popular TED talk of all time, are great examples of mastering the art of storytelling

Have a Conversation

  • Practice relentlessly and internalize your content so that you can deliver the presentation as comfortably as having a conversation with a close friend.
  • If your voice, gestures, and body language are incongruent with your words, your listeners will distrust your message.
  • Three helpful steps to build authenticity
    • Help with planning from people who are not as immersed in the details of the content can give a new perspective and look at the big picture
    • Early feedback can help
    • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
  • Four elements of verbal delivery to focus on
    • Rate: Speed at which you speak
    • Volume: Loudness or softness
    • Pitch: High or low inflections
    • Pauses: Short pauses to punch key words
  • The gist on gestures
    • Use gestures sparingly – Avoid canned gestures. Don’t think about what gestures to use. Your story will guide them.
    • Use gestures at key moments – Save your most expansive gestures for key moments in the presentation.
    • Keep your gestures within the power sphere – A circle that runs from the top of your eyes, out to the tips of your outstretched hands, down to your belly button, and back up to your eyes again.
  • Three easy fixes for common body language problems
    • Fidgeting, tapping, and jingling. Move with a purpose. Record yourself and watch it back. Simply seeing yourself in action makes you more conscious of how you come across, making you better equipped to eliminate useless movements and gestures
    • Standing rigidly in place. Walk, move, and work the room. Conversations are fluid, not stiff
    • Hands in pockets. Take your hands out of your pockets! One hand is acceptable as long as the free hand is gesturing.
  • Your delivery and gestures, mastered through hours and hours of practice, will enhance your overall message, but without passion and practice, your presence will be severely diminished. Your strength as a speaker comes from the inside.
  • Colin Powell and Ernesto Sirolli successfully use gestures in their presentations

Novel – Teach your audience something new

“Novelty recognition is a hard-wired survival tool all humans share. Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out, something that looks delicious.” -Dr. A.K. Pradeep, Author, The Buying Brain

Teach Me Something New

  • The human brain loves novelty. An unfamiliar, unusual, or unexpected element in a presentation intrigues the audience, jolts them out of their preconceived notions, and quickly gives them a new way of looking at the world
  • As long as you relate your topic to the audience by teaching them something new, they can use in their daily lives, you’ll hook them, too.
  • Put a little different spin on your content, give it a “hook” and your listeners will be far more receptive to your message.
  • If you can’t explain your big idea in 140 characters or less, keep working on your message. The discipline brings clarity to your presentation and helps your audience recall the one big idea you’re trying to teach them.
  • Most communicators are far more creative than they give themselves credit for. When they’re encouraged to unleash their creativity and to take an innovative approach to presenting their ideas, they rise to the challenge.
  • Hans Rosling uses new and innovative ways to share his information and statistics with his audience in all of his many TED talks

Deliver Jaw-Dropping Moments

  • The jaw-dropping moment in a presentation is when the presenter delivers a shocking, impressive, or surprising moment that is so moving and memorable, it grabs the listener’s attention and is remembered long after the presentation is over.
  • “The hook” is the wow moment, the showstopper, a rhetorical device that grabs your attention and persuades you to read or to share the story.
  • Think about your content and identify the most important points you need to make. Then find a novel and memorable way to communicate those messages.
  • Nearly every popular TED presentation contains data, statistics, or numbers to reinforce the theme of the talk. Every presentation intended to influence a decision should do the same.
  • Make numbers meaningful, memorable, and jaw-dropping by placing them in a context that the audience can relate to.
  • Hook people. Craft and deliver repeatable quotes. Your ideas deserve to be remembered (TED.com/quotes)
  • Bill Gates delivered a jaw dropping moment and made sure that his TED talk was unforgettable

Lighten Up

  • Combine humor and novelty and you’ve got presentation gold.
  • Don’t take yourself (or your topic) too seriously.
  • Humor lowers defenses, making your audience more receptive to your message
  • A joke poorly told, or, worse, a well-delivered but tactless joke can diminish your reputation with your audience very quickly. In addition, repeating tired or, worse, crass or dirty jokes won’t get you far.
  • Five ways to add just the right amount of humor to your speech
    • Anecdotes, observations, and personal stories: Think back to anecdotes, stories, observations, or insights that have made you or your colleagues smile in the past. If they worked there and are appropriate to your presentation, weave them into your narrative and practice telling it.
    • Analogies and metaphors: These are excellent rhetorical technique that helps to explain complex topics.
    • Quotes: Search for third-party quotes that lighten up the mood of your presentation or cut through the complexity of your topic. Don’t feel that you need to stick with famous quotes. Go off the beaten path. In many cases, quotes from people you know can be quite funny and engaging.
    • Video: Very few people use video clips in presentations, even at TED talks. Video, however is a very effective way of bringing humor into a presentation: it takes the pressure off you to be funny.
    • Photos: Lighten up your presentation with photos. Most PowerPoint presentations are dreadful because they have so little – if any – emotional impact. Incorporate a humorous photograph to lighten the mood.
  • Rose George uses tasteful humor to lighten up a presentation on a heartbreaking topic

Memorable – Present content in ways your audience will never forget

“You have to really be courageous about your instincts and your ideas. Otherwise you’ll just knuckle under, and things that might have been memorable will be lost.” -Francis Ford Coppola

Stick to the 18-Minute Rule

  • Researchers have discovered that “cognitive backlog,” too much information, prevents the successful transmission of ideas.
  • The longer the presentation, the more the listener has to organize, comprehend, and remember. Talk for too long and your audience will find ways to distract themselves
  • An 18-minute presentation works well because it leaves your audience with enough brainpower remaining to think about your presentation, share your ideas, and act on them.
  • The Rule of Three
    • People can remember three pieces of information really well; add more items and retention falls off considerably.
  • Build a Message Map in Three Easy Steps
    • Create a Twitter friendly headline
    • Support the headline in three key messages
    • Reinforce the three messages with stories, statistics, and examples
  • Long, convoluted, and meandering presentations are dull; a surefire way to lose your audience. The 18-minute rule isn’t simply a good exercise to learn discipline. Its critical to avoid overloading you audience.
  • David Christian narrated the complete history of the universe in 17 minutes and 40 seconds

Paint a Mental Picture with Multisensory Experiences

  • “It is better to present an explanation in words and pictures than solely in words” -Dr. Richard Mayer
  • Deliver presentations with components that touch more than one of the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
  • Nobody is going to ask you to build multisensory elements into your presentation, but once they experience it, they’ll love every minute of it.
  • Multimedia experiences enhance learning.It is far more effective to explain concepts using multiple methods of sensory inputs, such as auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
  • In presentation slides, use pictures instead of text whenever possible.
  • If you read a paragraph and do nothing more, you will remember 10% of the information three days from now. With a picture, your retention will go up to 65%
  • Use no more than 40 words in the first 10 slides to force you to think creatively about telling a memorable and engaging story instead of filling the slide with needless and distracting text.
  • How you say something (pitch, rate, volume, intensity, articulation) can touch your listener’s soul.
  • The auditory sense can be stimulated by the rhetorical devices used to deliver the speech. o For example, Martin Luther King Jr. used a device called anaphora, repeating the same word or words at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences, in his famous “I have a dream…” speech.
  • Props and demonstrations are useful multisensory tools to help the audience tangibly grasp your idea and the problem it solves.
  • Help the audience to “feel” your presentation. Step outside the slides every once in a while. Build in demonstrations, show products, ask the audience to participate. You can still create multisensory experiences if your content is a pure idea or concept.
  • Courage stands out…You have the courage. Find it, celebrate it, and revel in it. Courageous public speaking will transform your life and the lives of the people who listen to you. You have ideas that were meant to be seen, felt, and heard.
  • Michael Pritchard’s presentation consisted of photographs, statistics, and demonstrations. All three of those things made his presentation memorable

Stay in Your Lane

  • “I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.” -Sir Richard Branson
  • Be authentic, open, and transparent
  • Most people can spot a phony. If you try to be something or someone you’re not, you’ll fail to gain the trust of your audience.
  • You can learn from others and how they achieved success in public speaking, but you’ll never make a lasting impression on people unless you leave your own mark.
  • Successful people identify their life’s core purpose and relentlessly follow that purpose to become the best representation of themselves that they can become.
  • When you deliver a presentation, your goal should not be to “deliver a presentation.” It should be to inspire your audience, to move them, and to encourage them to dream bigger.