Talk Like TED … by Carmine Gallo

Talk Like TED was the first piece of recommended reading from Mark Smith during the 90 Day Mentoring Challenge 2020.  Mark recommended we read Talk Like TED to learn how to improve our presentation and public speaking technique.  Over the course of this book, Carmine Gallo leads us through the 9 secrets that most of the worlds best speakers know about public speaking and from the first page to the last page, I was absolutely captivated.

For those not familiar with TED, it is a not for profit organisation believing in the power of ideas as a force for good, and whose mission is to spread those ideas.  TED was formed in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design came together and since then has grown to become a global movement, extended by local TEDx communities, so that nowadays all sorts of topics are covered, in short powerful talks that are given in over 100 languages!

I first became aware of TED Talks a couple of years ago, having stumbled upon them quite by accident, and ever since I have been a regular visitor to the TED website and to online events such as TEDx London Women.  Although I had probably watched upwards of 30 talks prior to reading Talk Like TED, I had never considered that aside from the fact that these were all ideas worth spreading, there might be something else linking the talks together.

This book lays out in quite simple terms the formula for delivering world class public speaking, which contains 9 key points, and as each of those is discussed, it is illustrated by some of the talks that highlight the particular technique being used.  Following the all important ‘Rule of Three’, the book is divided into 3 parts.  Each of those parts contains 3 of the techniques employed by the worlds greatest public speakers going back thousands of years.  The Greek philosopher Aristotle is widely regarded as the father of public speaking, and the book explains how to apply his components of persuasion in a modern context by providing;

  • Ethos (credibility)
  • Logos (evidence and data)
  • Pathos (emotional appeal)

The most popular TED Talk of all time is one by Sir Ken Robinson,  asking the question ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ and while the talk was delivered in 2006, this is a question that is still incredibly relevant today.  As you might expect, the talk was delivered in classic TED style and incorporates all 9 of the key elements while using no PowerPoint, no visuals and no props.  As Gallo says, his connection with the audience is maintained by ‘a skillful use of analysis, data, humour and storytelling’.

So that I could get a really solid understanding of the concepts and learn them first hand from the speakers who had utilised them to great effect, I decided to watch every talk that was mentioned, rather than just read the book .  I think it was this that really brought the book to life for me, and while it meant that it took me significantly longer to work through the book, I was completely immersed in the topic all the way through.  For anyone who is serious about wanting to improve their public speaking, I would wholeheartedly recommend this approach.

 Since reading Talk Like TED, I have gone on to read 2 more of Carmine Gallo’s books, ‘The Storytellers Secret’ and ‘Five Stars’ which provide further context and detail around the original book.  If I were to pick just one of the 3 it would be Talk Like TED.


Deckchair Reads 10/10