Talk Like Ted, by Carmine Gallo, is a fantastic book about public speaking and giving killer presentations. This post highlights all 9 public-speaking secrets in the book and gives insight, so you can implement them to have more impact and be more memorable.
The author of this book is a communications coach for some big brands, and he used to be a correspondent for CNN and CBS. He’s been a keynote speaker for some of those big brands, writes for Forbes.com, and he did a ton of research on what has become the gold standard for presentations, TED.
If you haven’t watched any TED talks, go watch a few right after this video. They’re all free, they cover all kinds of subjects, and they’re inspiring and insightful. The point of this book is to learn why they are and how we can do the same when we present, teach, or share information.
As a quick aside, public speaking is supposedly one of the biggest fears for most people, so this book can really help! I’m not like most people… in more ways that one, but I actually love public speaking. I was lucky enough to be chosen by my classmates to present at my Master’s graduation… I’m sure I was tolerable, but I wish I had read this book back then!
Let’s look at a quote from Carmine Gallo:
“Science shows that passion is contagious, literally. You cannot inspire others unless you are inspired yourself. You stand a much greater chance of persuading and inspiring your listeners if you express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic.”
Now, if you’re a presenter like me, this is obviously relevant. However, I think it’s relevant for everyone. We all communicate with our friends, family, coworkers, heck strangers for that matter. But the thing about communication is that it’s a two-way street. The words that I speak may not be identical to what you process. This book will help us be clear with our communication, so we can make the impact we desire.
The 9 secrets of public speaking are broken into 3 characteristics that the presentation must have, and those are…
First, your presentation must be emotional, because people can sense the humanity in others. To connect, it has to be clear that you’re just like them, with some of the same fears and dreams. This allows them to relate to what you’re saying, and therefore have an impact.
The first way to be emotional is to unleash the master within. This section focuses on how passion around a subject allows you to become a master at it and convey your message at the same time. Passion is contagious.
A focus on passion is something that I preach all the time, what my business is based around, and why I encourage people to follow their dreams (even though this concept is usually beaten out of us by the time we’re 20). If you follow your passion, you will work harder–and subsequently be better at it–than the next person. Plus, you’ll enjoy it more.
Next, you must master the art of storytelling. This is deep-seeded in our DNA. For a long time, humans didn’t have written history, so lessons were passed down through verbal stories. Because of this, our brains have formed to receive information, comprehend it, and remember it, much better if it’s in the form of a story. Brene Brown, another TED speaker, says that “stories are just data with a soul.” So, find a way to incorporate a story into your presentation.
In my graduation speech, I made a connection between the student’s regular drinking hole—and the significant amount of time we spent there—and our network as it would grow in the professional world. To this day, I maintain connections with many of them, even though I do very different work now.
Finally, you must just have a conversation. This means delivering your presentation in a way that is comfortable and easy. Achieving this may be a little counterintuitive, though. To get to this point, you need to practice your content relentlessly, so that teaching it is second nature. Once you achieve this, though, people will feel drawn in to what you have to say.
The next characteristic a presentation needs is to be novel. This, also, has to do with how our brains are hard-wired. We seek out new information, because we’re learning machines. This is how we survived. Our brains got bigger, we got smarter, and we found new ways of doing things. But novelty is hard to come by… how do you accomplish it?
First, teach me something new. You don’t have to be finishing your thesis in a doctoral program to teach me something new. You can also just package something differently or teach something old in a new way. By doing this, learning something new or in a new way gives us a new perspective, and, in a way, changes us into a new person. Have you ever thought of it this way?
Next, another big ask is to deliver jaw-dropping moments. This one is harder to come by, but it’s worth it. The example the book used was when Bill Gates released mosquitoes during his presentation, which he implied had Malaria. His talk centered around vaccines, and regardless what you think of this subject, his actions had an impact. These jaw-dropping moments create what’s called an “emotionally-charged event,” and people are more likely to remember it, and your message, into the future.
Finally, novelty requires that you lighten up. This has to do with humor. Everyone likes a little humor, because it shows that we’re human. It can break down barriers, get people smiling, and open them up to be more receptive to the real message you want to deliver. Just make sure your humor is appropriate for your audience…
A few weeks back, I was in my favorite bar, and in walks the past, present, and future. It was tense…
Moving on to the final characteristic, your presentation must be memorable if you want to have any lasting impact, or you want your audience to take any kind of action, you need them to remember what you taught.
The first way to do this is to stick to the 18-minute rule. There’s a reason that TED talks are 18 minutes, and research went into this. It’s a balance between getting serious content across, and holding people’s attention. It also forces you to focus your material on what’s important. The book suggests that, if you must go much longer, build in small breaks like videos, stories, and demonstrations.
The next one is a mouthful: paint a mental picture with multisensory experiences. I guess it needs to be a mouthful, as well as an earful, handful etc… The brain ignores boring stuff, because it doesn’t help you survive. If you hit them with more senses, it’s more memorable.
Do me a favor right now. Put your hand on your chest, feel your heartbeat, and think back to what we said about passion. What is your real passion in life? Do you think you would have more impact on the world if you focused your efforts on it? Do you think you would be happier with your life?
Now, I may have not just changed your life, but, because of those 10 seconds or so, do you think you’re more likely or less likely to act on your passion? I hope I know the answer…
Finally, stay in your lane. Simply put, be authentic. Be genuine. Be true to yourself. However you want to say it, in general, people can spot a phony. And, if you’re a phony, they won’t trust, learn from, or really even listen to you.
In our society, there’s a lot of pressure to be what other people expect us to be, so I’m not saying this one is easy. But, when you decide to be the kind of person you want to be, instead of who your parents, friends, school, religion, or anyone else wants you to be, things may not get easier, but they certainly get clearer. This is what I experienced a couple years ago, and why I finally went full-time as an entrepreneur.
That covers all 9 secrets of public-speaking! To finish up, let’s look at some questions to inspire comments, conversation, and hopefully some action on your part. All of us have some genius to share with the world, so what do you have to share?
- What’s something that you’re emotional about?
- How can you make it novel?
- How can you make it memorable?
If you want to learn more about why you should consider starting your own business around your passion, and how I can help you, check out more of my website. When you’re ready, you can apply for a free consultation to gain all kinds of clarity into how to turn your passion into your profession.