19 April 2014

Talk Like TED: 3 Unbreakable Laws of Communication

Carmine Gallo has done it again. He recently wrote a new bookTalk Like TED, The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Mindswhich to me is one of the most important public speaking books ever written. Here are the slides of a presentation he made at the LeWeb conference in Paris before launching his book. To make you understand why his work is so valuable, I will use his own words. "Many of the ideas in this book do not belong to me. They do not be log to TED. [...] The techniques work because they are based on how the human mind works; how it processes and recalls information and how that information gets stamped in our brains".

After having analysed hundreds of TED talks, interviewed the most popular TED speakers as well as the top researchers in the fields of communication, psychology and neuroscience, Carmine Gallo came up with a list of three elements all great presentations share. He says great presentations are:
  • Emotional: they touch your heart
  • Novel: they teach you something new
  • Memorable: they present content in ways you'll never forget
Lets's have a look at each of these components. 


1.Unleash the master within
Be passionate about your topic. You cannot inspire others unless you are not inspired yourself. This technique works because passion is contagious. If you want to inspire others with your idea, instead of asking yourself what are you passionate about? ask yourself this simple question: what makes your heart sing? Try to answer both questions and you'll see the answer to the latter will be way more powerful. For example, I want to save the world from mediocre presentations. That's what makes my heart singand that's why I decided to help you tell your stories through an effective presentation. I want your audience's hearts to sing too.

2. Master the art of storytelling
Telling stories is one of the best ways to infuse a presentation with emotions. Stories stimulate and engage our brain which in turn helps you make a connection with your audience. You might be thinking how can I tell stories during a business presentation? To use Gallo's words, "in a new business pitch, share a story about how your product helped a client increase sales [...] During a product launch, tell a personal story behind the product's inception". If you think creatively about your topic, you'll realise there is always a story to tell. If you want to know more about storytelling, here is my interview with Cristiano Carriero, who made storytelling his profession. 

3. Have a conversation
You need to deliver your presentation as if you are having a conversation with a friend. To do that, you need to do two things: (1) practise, (2) practise more. The more you practise the more confident you become and the more confident you become the less obvious it is you have practised. Do you know how long it takes for Apple to create a 20-minute presentation for a product launch? 250 hours, including the work of presentation designers, marketing professionals and the executives who deliver the presentation. 


4. Teach me something new
To make a presentation novel, you need to deliver information which is either new to the audience, or packaged differently. This technique works because the human brain loves novelty. Hans Rosling's 2006 TED talk has been viewed more than five million times. Surprisingly, he talked about global population trends, surely not the most exciting topic for the general public. Why do you think five million people watched Rosling's presentation? Because he delivered information about an old topic (population trends) in a new and fresh way. His audience loved it.

5. Deliver jaw-dropping moments
A novel presentation includes a "shocking, impressive, or surprising moment". This helps you grab attention and be remembered. Carmine Gallo reminds us that the indisputable king of wow moments during presentations is Steve Jobs. How can we not agree with him? Do you remember when he let the first Macintosh speak for itself? Or when he introduced three revolutionary products in one? Look at the audience's reaction to see how a wow moment can set your presentation apart. Don't be afraid, a wow moment can be as simple as a story, a demo or a video. You don't have to be Steve Jobs to deliver a jaw-dropping moment.

6. Lighten up
The most popular TED talk ever is Sir Ken Robinson's How Schools Kill Creativity. It's been viewed 15 million times. 15. Million. Times. If you watch his talk, you'll see how much people laugh, even if he was talking about a serious topic: how we can teach our kids better. The reason why Robinson's talk is so popular is because he combined novelty and humour. He used a novel approach (humour) to talk about an old problem. The lesson is: don't take yourselfor your topictoo seriously. People love humour, so make them smile.


7. Stick to the 18-minute rule
No matter who you are, if you are invited to give a TED talk, you only have 18 minutes. That's because the ideal length of time for a presentation is 18 to 20 minutes. If for any reasons you cannot stick to this rule, at least create breaks every 10 minutes by telling stories and showing videos or demos. Think you have to much information to deliver your presentation in 18 minutes? Think again. In 2011, David Christian made a presentation titled The History of Our World in 18 Minutes. I'm sure you have a lot to say, but it must be less than that.

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."  
- Albert Einstein


8. Paint a mental picture with multisensory experiences
Use elements that touch more than one of the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. If you do that, it's impossible for your audience to get bored. We all know that vision trumps all other senses. So instead of using the all too common bullet points, use visuals as much as possible and find ways to combine images and text. You will touch sight. Show videos and you'll touch sound. Include demos and you'll affect touch. Great speakers build presentations mainly among one the five senses but also incorporate one or two others.

9. Stay in your lane
This final tip was worth the book. Stay in your lane means be yourself. Don't try to be Ken Robinson, or Steve Jobs, or Hans Rosling. You can (and should) learn from them, but as Gallo puts it, you need to follow your path and become "the best representation of yourself that you can possibly be".

I tried my best at summarizing the book. However, I suggest you to read it all. There is so much you can learn. Every single technique is supported by what science knows about communication as well as by examples of great speakers making use of these secrets. Whether you are a student working on your dissertation, an employee preparing a presentation for your boss, an entrepreneur pitching your world-changing idea, or a professor teaching the history of our world in 18 minutes, you'll find it extremely useful.