Talk like TED (Executive presentation training)

I wish I’d got there first…

Every now and again I come across a book I wish I’d written. “Talk Like TED” is one such publication. I recommend it as a great start to any executive presentation training program.

One of the reasons I like this book so much is because it is written by a former news anchor and journalist, Carmine Gallo. I also come from a broadcast journalism background, so Carmine and I speak the same language.

His book is as easy to read as a page-turner novel. It tells the story of individual TED speakers in such a way that the reader is drawn to them, relates to them and feels their experiences in a very emotional and pertinent way.

While the book lacks any solid advice on practical performance and delivery skills, its suggestions on content and storytelling are superb.

TED talks

Carmine has analysed hundreds of TED presentations, interviewed some of TED’s most impressive speakers, and compiled 9 top tips on successful public speaking based on their experiences.

His advice falls into three categories:

  1. Emotional: connect with people’s feelings to create a powerful response
  2. Novel: tell them something new, exciting and refreshing
  3. Memorable: create clever explanations to stimulate great recall.

From a professional perspective there are no amazing revelations here. I use all these concepts in my executive presentation training practice. But Carmine’s written explanations are clear, comprehensive and engaging. They turn a potentially dry subject into something stimulating and they are fundamental for anyone who needs to speak with impact.

Carmine’s advice follows the principles of Aristotle, which have held true for around 2,500 years. The Greek philosopher defined the three vital elements of a good speech as:

  1. The means of producing persuasion
  2. The language
  3. The proper arrangement of the various parts of the speech.

Not much changes. But it is great to read Carmine’s well-written reinforcement of a solid, lasting concept.

Storytelling in executive presentation training

One of the fundamental rules of “Talk Like TED” is to tell a good story. From early childhood we all love stories. As adults that’s why we read books, magazines, newspapers. That’s why we watch TV, listen to radio, go to the cinema, theatre, ballet, opera etc.

As a corporate executive you might not think about it in these terms, but deep down you are probably still a story-lover at heart.

As a story teller your job is to act as a tour guide – taking people on a fascinating journey and helping them recognise and explore your ideas, concepts and data.

You’ll need to bring them from a comfortable, familiar place where they know little about your topic or argument, to a brand new, unexplored location where they can understand and recognise the importance of your viewpoint. Along the way realisation will dawn as their knowledge grows.

Practice makes perfect

I love the fact that ‘Talk Like TED’ advocates passionate, persuasive and conversational speech. It takes practice to talk naturally in front of an audience while sounding spontaneous and enthralling at the same time. But these are all learnable skills, and with the right teacher you can go far.

If you are considering investing in executive presentation training, it would be wise to read this book first. It will support your learning process, and enable you to start your training or coaching process from a position of knowledge and strength. This will help you to develop your presentation skills faster and more productively, whether you need to address internal meetings, pitch for business or deliver one of the crème de la crème talks known as TED.