Review: Talk Like TED


If I was offered the opportunity to give a TED talk, let's just say I wouldn't turn up my nose at it. So I was really excited to find this book, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds In it the author analyzes hundreds of the most popular TED talks and provides insights into what made them so successful. Then he goes on to share actionable advice for how anyone can give a talk that's memorable and engaging. Some of my favorite tips were the following:



Tell a Story

Over and over again the book highlights the importance of telling a story during your talk. Now not a, "Once upon a time..." type story, but rather something short and meaningful that relates to your topic at hand. I don't typically think of telling a story during a tech talk but I wanted to see if I could somehow use a short story in my upcoming talk at Write/Speak/Code. So here's a slide from my talk:


Here's what I was going to originally say:
"I created an online video course for O'Reilly Media with no prior experience." 
Now that's definitely a true statement, but it would be much more engaging if I made a short story out of it. So I added a bit more detail and now I will say something like this:
"Last August I was contacted by Meghan, an editor at O'Reilly Media and offered the opportunity to create an online video course for them. I was very hesitant about doing it since I had no prior experience." 
Notice how both statements convey the same thought, but the second is obviously more interesting and will get the audience more involved with the talk. At least I hope ;-)


The Rule of Three

"The rule of three...is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things." (Wikipedia) The author shows several examples of how pervasive the Rule of Three is in our lives and culture. So it makes sense that we would want to apply this technique in our conference talks/presentations. Apparently it's easier for our audience to remember things that are presented in groups of three. Here's a slide from my talk on Screen Robots. Notice how in the agenda I only have three items. This is a technique that I plan to continue using as much as makes sense.



I've only touched briefly on two of the nine techniques in this post; but hopefully you found this review useful. I highly recommend this book for those interested in giving talks, in case you haven't noticed!  Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter for future book recommendations.