If you have a great idea, how do you share it with the world? Every day we are bombarded with information, so for any one idea to really shine, it needs to be pushed hard by the person who owns it. In other words, you have to sell it.
In Talk Like TED, author Carmine Gallo reveals the presentation secrets of some of the world’s most influential public speakers. In all of the talks, the content of the presentations was novel; the speakers managed to connect emotionally to their audience; and the content was presented in a way that made it easy to remember.
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a popular conference for leading thinkers and inventors to present their ideas. Each presentation, all of them freely available to watch online, is a model example of effective selling skills.
Started in 1984 as a one-off event, TED’s popularity grew rapidly. Today, TED has a global presence. In fact, every single day, five TEDx events (an international franchise of the original event) take place in more than 130 countries.
Because TED talks feature some of the brightest and most successful people in the world, they’re a valuable resource for anyone wanting to become a better public speaker. With that in mind, the author analyzed over 500 TED talks and was able to identify many of their common features.
But what are these commonalities? First is passion. Passion is the intense, positive feeling you get from pursuing activities that are deeply meaningful to you. Furthermore, pursuing something you are passionate about is essential to achieving success in that field. In addition to being the foundation of success, passion is also essential in giving excellent presentations. But what if passion doesn’t naturally flow through your veins? Fortunately, anyone can learn to be a passionate speaker. It simply requires practice. In the same way, if you put yourself in a position where you have to speak passionately on a regular basis, your brain will adapt to the task, and you’ll improve at it.
Most people would agree that Steve Jobs was one of the world’s best public speakers. But what made his presentations so persuasive? His talks were always brimming with pathos – as all successful, persuasive presentations are.
One of the first people to think deeply about persuasive communication was the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle believed that persuasion occurred only when three elements – ethos, logos and pathos – overlapped.
The first element – ethos – touches on your character or values. It refers to your experiences and/or education, both of which can increase your audience’s trust in your viewpoint. The second – logos – refers to the logical basis of your argument, which can include statistics or other data to help convince your audience of the concrete reasons for your point of view. The third element – pathos – is concerned with the emotional connection you make with your audience.
In the author’s analysis of hundreds of TED talks, he found that the most popular presentations consist of 65 percent pathos, 25 percent logos and 10 percent ethos.
Clearly, pathos is the most essential feature of a persuasive presentation. But how do you inject more pathos into your talk?The best way is th rough storytelling.
In general, storytelling helps you to connect with your audience by making your presentation less abstract and more identifiable. There are three types of stories that can help you accomplish this.
The first is the personal story. A powerful personal story is one that answers a question such as, “What’s your earliest memory of childhood?” The second kind is a story about other people – such as a story about a friend whose first idea for a start-up failed miserably, but whose next idea attracted many investors. The third type is a story about successful brands, companies or organizations. In one TED talk, Ludwick Marshane – the inventor of DryBath, a skin gel that cleans without water – entertained the audience with the tale of how his brand helped people in countries suffering from water shortages.
Connecting with your audience requires also paying attention to your body language. We gain a lot of information from how we move. In one study, students were presented with either a video or an audio recording of the testimonies of criminal suspects, and were asked to decide which of the suspects they thought were lying.
US Commander Matt Eversman suggests that a leader should stand straight, displaying confidence, at all times. The same applies to public speakers: they should stand tall in front of their audience, demonstrating confidence in their ideas.
Another important feature of body language is gesture. Indeed, certain studies have associated a speaker’s gestures with the amount of confidence an audience places in that speaker. To use gesture effectively, you should limit your gesturing to the area between your eyes and your belly button, as gestures in this area have the greatest impact. Also, save your most expansive gestures (such as spreading your arms at their widest) for emphasizing only your most important points.
So far, we’ve looked at how you can establish and maintain an emotional connection with your audience. Now we’ll turn our attention to how you can make your presentation stand out.
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