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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Talk like TED
Article Type: Suggested reading From: Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, Volume 28, Issue 5
In contrast to some of the more academic books we feature in these reviews, this book is very much about practical skills. Even so, it is based on good research and scientific analysis. It provides a great set of guidelines to anyone whose role involves public speaking. And it opens up a great resource that is available to anyone with a reasonable internet connection.
The book's author is Carmine Gallo. His previous book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, was a bestseller. He is a former anchor and correspondent for CNN and CBS and has worked with executives at numerous international companies, coaching them on communication skills. His writing style is engaging.
This book is the product of Gallo's research into the TED talks. Most readers will have come across these. To quote from the website (TED.com):
TED is a platform for ideas worth spreading. Started in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged, TED today shares ideas from a broad spectrum - from science to business to global issues - in more than 100 languages.
Each talk is about 18 minutes in length. The topics are often fascinating. But for the context of this book, it is the structure and delivery of the talks that are key. Gallo has studied hundreds of TED talks. He has interviewed some of the most popular presenters, together with top researchers in the fields of psychology, communications and neuroscience. From this, he has given us nine "public speaking secrets". I am not sure how secret they were, but they are certainly areas of interest to those who speak publicly, or to those who train or advise others in doing so.
Each chapter reveals and explains one of the nine secrets. I would not give away all of the secrets, but will use the second chapter as an example. This one is entitled Master the Art of Storytelling. Gallo starts with a detailed review of the TED talk given by Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights attorney and executive director of a non-profit group that provides legal representation to poor defendants. The talk was given in March 2012 and at the time earned the longest standing ovation in TED history. It also led to substantial donations for his organisation. So, a successful presentation! Gallo explains why.
The chapter goes on to examine the secret - the art of storytelling - from other perspectives. He quotes from interviews with Stevenson and other presenters who he highlights in the chapter. He quotes from research. He gives us three simple, effective stories as examples from which we can perhaps build our own stories for presentations. He gives examples of how storytelling has led to personal and business success.
And of course, in addition to the book, anyone can view the presentations he mentions on TED.
This to me is one of the great strengths of the book as a resource for public speakers and those who look to develop them. As well as having the information in the written word, you also have references to some of the best TED presentations. The TED website has long been an excellent resource, but Gallo has now done the legwork for us. Rather than having to make your own way through the many, many excellent presentation, you are guided to ones that can be particularly useful. And I am sure that in doing so, many more people will be side tracked into watching some more excellent stuff. It should be noted that there is a disclaimer that the book is not authorised, licenced, approved, sponsored or endorsed by the TED organisation.
The other chapters follow a similar pattern, with highlighted presentations, some powerful research findings and some hints and tips on how anyone can apply the principles to improve their public speaking. There is a good notes section in the back of the book, which includes the URLs of the talks to which he refers. I guess the only addition that may have added a little is a single page or two of the best presentations to watch for each particular secret.
In summary, a very worthwhile read for trainers working in the arena of presentation skills, or for other professionals wishing to increase their personal skills.
The review was originally published in Industrial and Commercial Training Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 284-285, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0019-7858