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The Best of TED: 5 Public Speaking Lessons from
 30 Years of Spreading Ideas

| May 6, 2014

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading, “The Best of TED” is a story that appeared in a March issue of FastCompany.  It’s based on research by Carmine Gallo who analyzed 500 of the most popular TED talks to identify what makes a TED talk great.  Gallo is a technology writer and author of Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds (St. Martin’s Press, March 4, 2014).

Gallo’s research identified a number of lessons from TED talks which are viewed some two million times each day.  She believes that these five lessons can be utilized each day in our conversations, and both informal and formal presentations:

1.  Dig Deep to identify your true passion.  Passion is contagious.  People who others rate as charismatic rate higher than average on the positive expressions of passion, enthusiasm, and excitement.  Research also shows that positive emotions are contagious as well, lifting the moods of those in the audience.

2.  Stories illuminate, inform, and inspire.  Tell more of them.  Data and statistics support your argument;  stories connect with the audience.

3.  Package your message in an unexpected way.  Who would have thought that Bill Gates would open a jar which he said contained mosquitoes to make a point in a discussion of malaria which is spread by mosquitoes and causes childhood deaths in Africa.  This was an “emotionally charged event!”

4.  Explain through imagery.  Robert Ballard, the explorer who discovered the Titanic, gave a TED presentation with 57 slides with no words.  This reminds us of the research that indicates that “if you hear information, you are likely going to remember about 10% of that information three days later.  Add a picture, however, and your recall rate will soar to 65%.”

5.  Stick to the 18-minute rule.  When you give people too much information it results in what is called a cognitive backlog.  The more information you ask people to retain the more likely they are to forget everything!  If you must speak for more than 18 minutes, reengage your audience frequently.

Three of the five points Gallo mentions are also included in the Leaders Program module SUCCES.  If you need a refresher to what is taught there, you can find it here.

As you prepare for your next presentation or significant conversation, think back on these lessons and make use of them.  I think that you will find that it makes a difference.

Have a great week.  .  .  .     jim