Review: Carmine Gallo’s Talk Like TED – The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds

Talk like TED

This review first ran in the Sept. 29 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds

By Carmine Gallo

St. Martin’s Press


When giving a presentation or a speech, what you leave out is as important as what you keep in.

Resist the urge to talk for an hour and walk us through 1,600 words on 40 PowerPoint slides.  We can only absorb so much. Tell us everything and we’ll remember nothing.

Author and communications coach Carmine Gallo tells CEOs and business professionals to stick to the Goldilocks zone when they stand and deliver. Don’t talk for too long or too short.  A talk of 18 minutes is just right to inform, inspire and persuade your audience.

That’s the magic number for TED Talks, the technology, entertainment and design presentations made by the world’s leading innovators and thinkers and watched more than a billion times online.

“Long, convoluted, and meandering presentations are dull; a sure-fire way to lose your audience,” warns Gallo. “The 18-minute rule isn’t simply a good exercise to learn discipline. It’s critical to avoid overloading your audience. Constrained presentations require more creativity.”

Consider that President Kennedy’s inaugural speech clocked in at 1,355 words and 15 minutes while his “go to the moon” speech was just shy of 18 minutes.

In studying more than 500 TED Talks and talking with all-star presenters, neuroscientists, psychologists and communications experts, Gallo has identified eight other public-speaking secrets:

Unleash the master within.  “Dig deep to identify your unique and meaningful connection to your presentation style. Passion leads to mastery and your presentation is nothing without it.”

Master the art of storytelling. Don’t bury us in facts, stats and charts that no one can read. “Tell stories to reach people’s hearts and minds. You simply cannot persuade through logic alone.”

Have a conversation. Practice your content until you can deliver it as though you’re having a conversation with a friend. “If your voice, gestures and body language are incongruent with your words, your listeners will distrust your message. It’s the equivalent of having a Ferrari (a magnificent story) without knowing how to drive (delivery).”

Teach us something new. Our brains crave novelty. “An unfamiliar, unusual or unexpected element in a presentation intrigues the audience, jolts them out of their preconceived notions and quickly gives them a new way of looking at the world.”

Deliver jaw-dropping moments. Do or say something unexpected and emotionally charged that’ll leave us talking about your talk.

Lighten up. Just like we crave novelty, our brains love humour. Give us something to smile about. But please skip the badly delivered, unfunny and off-colour jokes. You’re not a stand-up comedian.

Paint a mental picture with multisensory experiences. “Deliver presentations with components that touch more than one of the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.” And if you’re using PowerPoint, put one word or an image on a handful of slides.

Stay in your lane. Never try to be something or someone you’re not. Most of us can spot a phoney and you’ll lose our trust.  Leave your own mark and you’ll make a lasting impression.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to 20 people in a boardroom or 1,000 people in an auditorium. Know that most of us have watched at least one TED Talk and we’re measuring you against speakers whose presentations have been watched millions of times.

So skip these secrets at your peril. “The next time you deliver a presentation, you’ll be compared to TED speakers,” says Gallo. “Your audience will be aware that there’s a fresh, bold style of delivering information; a style that lifts their spirits, fills their souls, and inspires them to think differently about their world and their roles in it.”