Principles & Applications from TED

Book Review — Talk Like TED

Which one changed your life? Brene Brown or Sir Ken Robinson or Daniel Pink or some more obscure, but still noteworthy presenter? The ideas are what we get to take with us, but it’s the WHO spoke that really changed us. And that’s the gem of this book: what WE can do to change the world.

In Talk Like TED, Carmine Gallo lets us in on the secrets, the patterns of success, she has found through her study of the most popular TED talks, the ones that we, the internet-consuming people, have deemed the very best by sharing them millions of times(47 million in the case of Sir Robinson). Gallo’s book is insightful and helpful, but it is merely interesting — not life-changing — until the reader actually applies the tips presented and does so with a mastery of the principles being taught. This research-based, up-to-date, well-organized self-help book can revolution education, one presentation at a time, starting with you and me.

Great ideas can be found in every profession and in every part of the globe. Getting those ideas across in a way that moves people to act or think in a more positive way is the trick. Gallo studied the most popular TED talks and then lays out in her book what these presenters do across the board that can be replicated, on the condition that we master the concepts, not just apply the tricks out of context.

The book is broken into three sections, just like a well-crafted TED talk should be. (Research shows that people can remember sets of three better than any other number.) These three principles that must be present are emotion, novelty, and memorability. Within each of these three sections, Gallo gives some specific suggestions of how to apply these principles coupled with specific examples of TED talks that implement these principles masterfully. She demonstrates how the heart, head, and residue combine for maximum impact.

Behind each of these suggestions is the underlying necessity of passion. Without passion, any of these tips applied would look disingenuous, hollow, and probably make TED audiences squirm in their seats. In part II she teaches us how to lighten up and be funny, but that can back fire if the presenter appears to be trying too hard without success. Similarly, an idea delivered without passion is just an annoying salesman. So Gallo invites us to ask, “what makes your heart sing?” and once we’ve found that, we will be able to speak with power because we are sharing our passion, not our product (19).

As we “unleash the master within” to tell our audience a story and engage in conversation; teach them something new in a jaw-dropping, light-hearted way; and make our message stick by creating an experience through using the senses in 18 minutes or less, we can become TED-like presenters whose ideas can reach heads and hearts to make the world a better place.

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