Nov 20, 2016

Talk Like TED

My takeaways from Talk Like TED, by Carmine Gallo

A few weeks ago I was rehearsing a presentation, and one of my co-workers recorded it on video. What an eye opener! I was terrible…

After getting some honest feedback and a few tips, and going through the presentation for five or six more times, my delivery got better, to the point that I almost didn’t have to cringe when I watched it.

As if fate had it, a few days later I was at a Fedex store and saw Talk Like TED, by Carmine Gallo, sitting on the shelves. I went to my local library and picked it up. Here are my most important takeaways:

  • A good presentation is:
    • Emotional (touch the heart)
    • Novel (teach something new)
    • Memorable (you’ll never forget)
  • Stories are “data with a soul”.
  • Warm up your audience with stories, before you throw around statistics. Start with a story they can relate to.
  • There are three types of stories:
    • Personal
    • About other people
    • About brand success
  • The story arch goes like this: at the beginning everything is fine; then something bad happens; then the bad is overcome and victory ensues. Every good story follows more or less that trajectory.
  • Three things to do before a good presentation:
    • Plan
    • Get brutal feedback
    • Reherase, rehearse, rehearse
  • There are four elements that you must incorporate into your verbal delivery:
    1. Speed
    2. Volume
    3. Inflections, and
    4. Pauses
  • The ideal speaking speed when you deliver a presentation is 190 words/minute.
  • When you present, try to act and look like a leader: looks, poise, confidence, matter almost as much as your content.
  • Gestures are important. Hand movements are necessary, but for maximum effectiveness you need to use them sparingly.
  • Keep your hand movements within your “power sphere”: the arch between your eyes, your extended arms and your waist.
  • Other Do’s and Dont’s:
    • Don’t juggle, tap or jingle
    • Don’t stand still. Move!
    • Don’t put both hands in your pocket. One hand is OK, provided that the other one is moving.
  • Dopamine is your brain’s SAVE button. When the brain releases dopamine, people remember more. You need to help your audience release dopamine with compelling stories.
  • To get more story ideas submit yourself to new experiences, i.e. travel.
  • You must have ONE key message: there must be one key point you want to make, and you need to be able to express it in a “Twitter headline” (140 characters or less). If you can’t, keep refining your idea. Being able to articulate your point briefly and concisely will help your audience to better process your content.
  • Create jaw-dropping moments: present the information in a way nobody has done it before (remember Bill Gates releasing mosquitoes to the audience before his talk about malaria?)
  • Find tangible comparisons to hard to understand numbers. For example, if you’re talking about BP’s oil spill, talk in terms of how many olympic size pools of oil were leaked, as oppossed to gallons. Steve Jobs did this brilliantly when he launched the ipod, talking about 1,000 songs in your pocket, instead of Megabytes.
  • End on a high note, and leave the audience wanting to know more.
  • When using humor, try to use:
    • Personal anecdotes
    • Analogies and metaphors
    • Videos and photos
  • The 18 Minute Rule: there is a reason why TED talks are 18 minutes long. It is the optimal length if you want the audience to be engaged and remember what you said.
  • Longer presentations require a break or a change of pace (perhaps incorporating a video in between your talk) every 10 minutes.
  • Remember the Rule of Three: people remember and make sense of blocks of three concepts at a time. Throw in more and they won’t process them as well. Some examples of the Rule of Three are: “Good, Better, Best”, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, “Eat, Pray, Love”, “Small, Medium, Large”.
  • The Three Story Structure: this is a very effective technique, used by the best presenters. You have ONE key point supported by three key messages, and each of those three key messages is supported by stories, statistics and examples. Watch Steve’s Job commencement address at Stanford and see if you can figure out his main point and key messages.
  • Create a multi-sensory experience: try to incorporate props and visual aids into your presentation. Remember: pictures are better than bullet points, videos are better than pictures, and things/people are better than videos.
  • Stay in your lane: Basically, be authentic and don’t bullshit. Know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know, don’t give that talk, or keep practicing. Don’t “fake it ‘til you make it”, “fake it ‘til you become it”.

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