Talk Like Ted Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Talk Like TED has analyzed over 500 of the most popular TED talks to help you integrate the three most common features of them, novelty, emotions, and being memorable, into your own presentations and make you a better speaker.

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Carmine Gallo is a communications coach and speaker, who left the world of TV news, where he was a journalist and anchor, in 2009 to focus on speaking, consulting, and writing books.

His most popular books are about Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs, and analyze his way of communicating and presenting. Talk Like TED is his newest book, where he breaks down what makes the most popular TED talks so great.

These are the 3 lessons I learned from reading the summary:

  1. Persuasive presentations have logos, ethos and pathos.
  2. You can make your presentation memorable by sharing extreme moments and novel statistics.
  3. The ideal presentation is 18 minutes long and covers 3 topics.

Let’s get cracking!

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Lesson 1: Persuasive presentations have logos, ethos and pathos.

After learning a lot about what influences and persuades people yesterday, today we’re taking it to the next level. Gallo says that communicating in a persuasive way can be traced back all the way to Aristotle.

Back in ancient Greece he established 3 modes of persuasion: ethos, logos and pathos.

Ethos is about who the speaker is, and how much of a credible source he or she is to talk about the topic.

For example a college professor for health psychology has a much easier time talking about willpower than a high school student – you’d simply trust the professor more because of their authority.

But you can also just demonstrate that you have mastered the topic of your TED talk by showing statistics, or benefit from being introduced by another authority in your field.

Logos is how convincing you can make your argument by backing it up with data. Statistics, facts, research findings, credible sources, all of these will help you make your point, and further enhance your ethos as well.

Pathos is the last, but most important of the 3. It is about establishing an emotional connection between you and your audience.

Sympathy and empathy are both words, which have been derived from the word pathos, and they are 2 great places to start. But the strongest emotions always come from stories, which is why storytelling should be a substantial part of all of your presentations.

Whether you share personal stories, stories from friends or how a big brand did something really cool for their customers, keep bringing those metaphors.

Gallo says the perfect talk consists of 65% pathos, 25% logos and 10% ethos.

Lesson 2: Sharing extreme moments and novel statistics will make your presentation memorable.

People have bad memory these days, so it’s your job to make your talk unforgettable and help them remember it. Sharing extreme moments in your story can help achieve that.

For example Scott Dinsmore told a story about an open water swim, where he thought a child was drowning, only to find out that the kid was disabled and had still mastered the challenge.

Similarly, Bill Gates unleashing a bunch of potentially deadly mosquitos stuck in people’s heads for quite some time.

Another factor that helps us remember things is when the information is new. But it doesn’t have to be actually new information, it’s enough if you present information in a new light.

For example, it’s often hard to grasp how fast things really grow, when we talk about exponential growth, but a really enlightening way of explaining it is trying to fold a piece of paper to reach the moon.

Joe Smith used the same concept to teach people how to use less paper towels, by showing the audience how we could save half a billion pounds of paper each year, if everyone just used 1 paper towel less per day.

So think about some cool and novel stories and statistics to spice up your presentation and your audience will remember it for a long time.

Lesson 3: Your presentation should be 18 minutes long and cover no more than 3 topics.

We remember information not in single units, but in chunks, which is why 24122014 is much tougher to remember than 24/12/2014.

Research has been updated from estimating we can remember up to 7 things at once to rather 3 chunks.

That’s why your presentation should build it’s core message around 3 topics or distinct points, which help you drive home the overall point.

Structure it from the top and then go deeper to see which stories and facts you can best use to convince the audience of what you have to say.

TED talks also lie right in the middle of the ideal presentation length of 15 to 20 minutes with an 18-minute rule, established by the creators to get people to really condense their message and keep listeners engaged.

Talk Like TED Review

If you’ve even watched so much as a single TED talk, you probably know how addictive they are. Talk Like TED not only breaks down why, but also gives you plenty of great examples (and more talks to watch).

The whole idea of the 3 modes of persuasion was completely new to me, and while I knew about the 18 minute rule of TED talks, I had no idea why.

I will definitely use the extreme and novelty approach for my next presentation or webinar, and can highly recommend this set of blinks.

Who would I recommend the Talk Like TED summary to?

The 13 year old, who’s about to give her first presentation to her class in high school, the 39 year old executive, who has to present to upper management on a regular basis, and anyone who loves TED talks.

Last Updated on July 27, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!