TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

Today I’m joining Steven Pinker of Harvard University, bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert, and Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author, in their praise of Chris Anderson’s book, TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking.

Chris Anderson is the Curator of TED, the wildly-popular platform for people with big ideas “worth spreading.” Most people know TED Talks as short presentations given by people with great ideas. While the book’s focus is on how to present a TED Talk, the information and advice is valuable for anyone giving any kind of talk. To quote the aforementioned Adam Grant, “If you ever plan to utter a sound, this is a must-read. It gives me hope that words can actually change the world.”

Chris’ launching pad is The Official TED Talk Guide Playlist. The talks serve as illustrations for various points in the book. The book itself is reminiscent of a well-delivered speech: it holds your attention and makes you want to know what’s coming next.

Some of the key points Anderson covers in the book include:

  • – The point of any talk: saying something meaningful.
  • – The throughline: what is the thread that connects all of the parts of your talk? You should be able summarize it in just a few words such as “More choice actually makes us less happy” or “Online videos can humanize the classroom and revolutionize education.”
  • – How to tell a story for maximum impact.
  • – How to explain a complex subject

One of the most interesting aspects of TED Talks is the impact that the talks have had on the speakers’ lives. From Monica Lewinsky to an unknown boy in Africa who figured out how to save his village’s cows from lion attacks while also sparing the lions’ lives, speakers have often gained much more than they gave as a result of their talk.

I found the book to be a little dry in places, but overall, it’s a great tool for improving your speaking skills and definitely worth the time and money.

Have you read the book or used any of the tips Anderson gives? Let me know what you thought!



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Please follow and like us:

Scripted Vs Unscripted

With a few exceptions, our lives are unscripted. We go through our days taking things as they come and reacting accordingly. Our speech is also largely unscripted, that is, unplanned.

Public speaking can be unscripted as well, which is also known as impromptu or “off-the-cuff” speaking. Scripted, on the other hand, is just that: prepared in advance of the speaking event. Different situations and different speaking styles may call for one over the other.

Which to Use and When?

Impromptu speaking is often not a choice. You may find yourself in a situation where you weren’t expecting to have to speak or where you know there is a chance you might need to say a few words. It’s good to memorize two or three key points about what you do so that any time you’re called on you’ll be prepared. Toastmasters International has a few excellent tips about what to do when you are called on to fill in for another speaker or unexpectedly asked to say a few words.

If you are an experienced or confident speaker and know you’ll be in an informal setting, you may prefer to speak primarily off-the-cuff. Unscripted speaking can make for a more engaged audience when you know your topic well enough to move around the speaking area or stage and gesture more frequently, something that comes with practice.

Scripted speaking, on the other hand, is what most people think of when they think about public speaking. But just because a speech is scripted doesn’t mean it should be read word for word from the podium. Know ahead of time that you will be speaking and the topic you will cover gives you time to plan what you want to say.

You may need to do background research to add to your own knowledge of the topic.

It is important to write like you speak in order to avoid a dry presentation. Collect a list of points you want to make and work around those, remembering to include a beginning, middle, and end.

Creating an outline is a great way to make sure everything you want to say is covered as you move through your talk.

Give it a try!

Pick a topic you know you’ll be asked to speak on and practice writing a speech. Start by creating an outline that covers all of the points you want to make and has an opening, middle, and closing. What will you say to engage your audience as you begin? How will you keep them focused on your message as you talk? And what do you want them to remember when they leave?

Take advantage of the technology most of us have in our pockets and record yourself giving the speech. How did it go? Make changes when you see things you don’t like and try again.

Let me know what you thought and if you have any tips of your own to add. Improving your public speaking skills takes practice and I’m here to help.

Sign up for my weekly email tips to help you improve your skills and boost your professional reputation.

Please follow and like us:

The Importance of Body Language

The importance of body language can’t be overstated when considering how you present yourself to an audience. We know that about half of a communicated message comes from non-verbal cues.

Good body language seamlessly supports and underscores your verbal message and does not distract the audience from your presentation. Poor body language is noticed. It attracts attention and makes it hard for your audience to focus on what you have to say.

How can you avoid this? Think of your body as a tool to support you when you speak.

Eye Contact: Don’t read from your speech.

Your eyes are an important part of your body language. It’s important not to read directly from your notes. Doing so shows lack of confidence and an inability to connect with your audience. It will leave them feeling ignored and wondering why they are spending valuable time there.

Making eye contact with others, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group setting, is key to creating a positive impression and making your audience want to hear more.

Eye Contact: Fake it till you make it.

Your audience feels engaged when you look directly at them, but this doesn’t always have to mean direct eye contact. A good place to look is the forehead, especially when talking to larger groups of people. Scan the audience as you talk, referring to your notes occasionally as needed, and look at the upper part of people’s heads, moving down to the eyes as your confidence increases.

Your goal is to look at individual people in the audience, one at a time, as you move from point to point. Take a look at the video How To Make Eye Contact With Audience, where TJ Walker explains how President Bill Clinton does this.

Take a stand: Power Posing

A study in the journal Psychological Science showed that one-minute power poses cause changes in the brain of both women and men that result in an increase in self-confidence.

Step into an empty room or restroom and try posing like a superhero or a victorious runner with your arms stretched up over your head for 60 seconds before you take the stage.

In the video, 30 Seconds On Power Poses, Amy Cuddy shares the benefits of practicing this technique.

Take a stand: Don’t hide behind it.

If you have a podium, practice moving around behind it a bit rather than using it as a wall between you and your audience. If the microphone is attached to it, use forward and upward gestures to break the barrier. If you have the use of a larger space such as a stage or floor, use it! Move forward toward the audience when you want to emphasize a point. This will also force you to rely less on your notes.

Give it and try & let me know how it went!

Now it’s your turn. Review the exercise above and try out power posing, making better eye contact, or using the podium or stage you have the next time you speak and tell me what you thought. You can even put two or three of these exercises together for a real boost in audience engagement.

If you have enjoyed this post please let us know in the comments section below and be sure to share it with your friends!

Please follow and like us:

Why Should You Develop Your Speaking Voice

Think about the last time you heard a dynamic speaker, one who drew you in and inspired you with their message. What was it that held your attention? His presence? Her words? Gestures and body language? Physical appearance?

All those are important, but your speaking voice is the primary way in which you communicate what you want others to hear in a group setting. How does your voice affect your message?

  1. – It commands attention
  2. – It denotes authority
  3. – It helps you develop a connection with your audience

If you want to improve your public speaking skills, developing your speaking voice is a great place to start. There are several things you can do.

“Find Your Speaking Voice!” – Unknown

Pay attention to your posture:

Your voice should come from your diaphragm. Standing up straight helps open both the chest and the diaphragm. You can practice this by noticing the palms of your hands.

Try this: Stand up straight with your shoulders back and your head, hips, and feet aligned. Relax your hands at your side. You should notice that your palms naturally face inward toward the outside of your thighs. Next, slump your shoulders a bit as you relax your posture. Notice that your palms turn to face the rear. Paying attention to this change when you are standing will help you improve your posture over time. This will help you speak more clearly and effortlessly.

Pay attention to your vocal volume:

Do you speak loudly, or do you tend to have what is often called a “mouth voice”, which is softer and more quiet. Considering your vocal style along with your posture will help you reach the ears of every audience member. When speaking, notice whether people in the back are straining to hear you. Are they leaning forward, drifting off, or cupping a hand behind their ear? If so, you may need to adjust your vocal volume according to the size of your audience and whether your voice is being amplified.

Try this: Next time you’re speaking, notice the audience members, especially those in the front and the rear. Pay attention to your posture as discussed above and make adjustments to your volume based on your audience’s body language and facial expressions. With time, this will become natural to you as you speak.

Pay attention to your speed:

Just like athletes need to pace themselves, speakers should do the same. Speaking too fast will leave you out of breath and make it difficult for the audience to follow you. It’s okay to pause briefly at the end of a section for emphasis and to take a breath or sip of water if you have it available.

Try this: Practice saying the alphabet and writing the letters in the air as you go. When you are comfortable with that speed, practice using it as you speak.

In this video “5 Aspects of a Powerful Speaking Voice” by Conor Neill you will get even more lessons to help you.

In conclusion:

Remember that your voice is your very best representative to the world. With practice, you can easily improve your speaking voice, making you more comfortable, relaxed, and easier to understand. It will increase your confidence and help you stand out in both social and work environments.

If you enjoyed this article please be sure to share it with your friends.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Please follow and like us:

Talk Like TED – The 9 Secrets…

In his book, Talk Like TED – The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, Carmine Gallo gives very sound advice on the topic of public speaking.

The secrets revealed in this book are broken down from all the popular speeches given at TED talks into nine well researched and carefully crafted components that when applied correctly can make your speech unforgettable.

Ted Book

Unleash the Master Within

You should always have passion for your topic, if you don’t your audience will not connect with you. Don’t just focus on spouting out the information, focus on why you care about the information.

Master the Art of Storytelling

Stories stimulate us and we connect with stories, not just information. Stories will enable you to have more engagement with your audience and appeal to them on an emotional level. Your listeners are more likely to remember your points if they are drawn in or involved.

Have a Conversation

Practice your speech relentlessly so you can be as comfortable delivering it as you would be having a conversation with a close friend. Not only will rehearsing the material increase your confidence but it will allow you to gauge your energy level and your timing.

Teach Me Something New

To get your point across and make it more memorable, show your information in a fresh and novel way. Even if it is an effective solution to an old problem because the information is new, it will be more interesting and memorable to your audience.

Deliver Jaw-Dropping Moments

Include a shocking or impressive moment in your presentation that is memorable and grabs your listener’s attention. The goal is to involve your audience emotionally, so they remember what you had to say.

Lighten Up

Don’t take yourself or your topic so serious that you don’t even smile. Not only will this make you tense and nervous but it will make your audience think that you are not excited about your content. Your audience should feel like you enjoyed your topic and that you enjoyed having them as an audience.

Stick to the 18 Minute Rule

TED’s length of time for a presentation is a precise time of 18 minutes. The 18-minute length is long enough to be serious and to get the point across but short enough to hold the audience’s attention. This also forces speakers to structure their talks and cut out any unnecessary information.

Paint a Mental Picture with Multi-sensory Experiences

When learning and engaging, we use our senses to process information, using more than one sense when teaching allows more connections to be made with your concept creating a more lasting effect. Also, we all have different learning styles so a multi-sensory experience will be more fun and reduce the chance of boredom in your audience.

Stay In Your Lane

To make an honest connection with your audience, you need to be true to yourself. Create a platform that is open and your own. Do not try to be like a Tony Robins or Oprah.  If you do, you will just come across as fake.


Although this book is based on the current trend of TED Talks-style of delivering presentations, it is a great book for anyone trying to improve their communication skills in the workforce, professionally, at a user’s group/club or even at any social event.

Whether you are a seasoned speaker or just starting out, there are gems in this book that make it worth your time to read and incorporate into your future presentations.

This book is worth your time.



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Please follow and like us: