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Human beings are highly social and interact with one another in various spheres of life. The interaction is normally done through a presentation of a product or service. For example, for business people, availing products in a market is not enough, as they also have to present those items in an attractive way to lure in customers. On the other hand, two people meeting for the first time will try and give a good impression through both their physical and intellectual presentation.
It can be posed that one must be able to make presentations that sway their audience to buy into their ideas to achieve their set objectives. The book Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Principles of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo provides readers with guidelines that can be used to make powerful public presentations. This essay is a reaction to the concepts and ideas presented in the book.
Carmine Gallo is an American author, former journalist, communication coach, and the current President of Gallo Communication Group. This reflection paper focuses purely on Gallo’s work in Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public-Speaking Principles of the World’s Top Minds. In this book, the author reviews more than 500 TED presentations (about 150 hours of talks) and interviews some of the most successful TED speakers, top communication experts, neuroscientists, and psychologists. After an in-depth analysis of these presentations, Gallo infers that the speakers incorporate nine principles of public speaking grouped into three main parts. The three parts are emotional, novel, and memorable. This paper gives personal thoughts about the insights given by Gallo in the book and concludes that Gallo’s public speaking guidelines are useful for anyone yearning to sharpen their public speaking and presentation skills.
Gallo posits that the first step under the emotional aspect in becoming a good public speaker is to unleash the master within (9). The statement implies that one must develop a passionate connection with his or her subject matter. It can be argued that to be successful, one should do what he or she believes is in line with their identity. According to Gallo, many times, one’s identity goes hand in hand with his or her passions as opposed to intellectual talents.
For example, Steve Jobs and Michael Zuckerberg dropped out of college and began to follow their respective passion. Through this argument, one can argue that passion drives action. Thus, it can also be described as a pillar of success. I agree with Gallo, who suggests that it is impossible for a speaker to inspire the audience while they are not passionate about their subject (11). This perhaps explains why the most inspiring speakers analyzed by Gallo had a personal experience or relation to what they were talking about. They used personal examples in their presentations, and this ensured the originality of the content, which kept their audiences engaged.
The second principle in the emotional component that Gallo talks about is mastering the art of storytelling (32). I consider this to be the pivot of every presentation because one can have an excellent idea but fail to deliver it as they perceive it due to poor storytelling techniques. I agree with Gallo, who rightly emphasizes the importance of being bold, natural, and using a contemporary and compelling narration style. Moreover, exceptional public speakers have to narrate their presentations in a conversation-like manner. In my view, the art of storytelling is the most difficult to incorporate in talk because it is not appreciated enough.
Moreover, many people shy away from talking about their personal experiences for fear of being judged by their audience. The irony of the matter is that such stories connect more with the audience compared to theoretical observations. Gallo appreciates the fact that it can be hard to tell personal stories and suggests that beginners tell stories about other people or people they have read about (19).
The author also presents the four elements of verbal delivery that determine a successful presentation. I consider these elements to be crucial because people are constantly judged by how they walk, talk, and look. Therefore, I think basic communication elements such as body language, tone, confidence, calmness, volume, pauses, pitch, and use of gestures have to be considered at all times in public speaking. Ultimately, the level of connection a speaker has with his or her audience greatly depends on the manner in which the speakers carry themselves while making the presentation.
As stated earlier, novelty is the second element of memorable public speaking, according to Gallo (9). The author explains that novelty is the creation of the illusion of the creation of something new. I agree that many remarkable public speeches are fresh and interesting. Arguably, human beings are curious by nature, and learning something new can be a driving point for great public speeches. Although the author’s perspective of novelty focuses on the content of the presentation, I believe that the concept can also be applied to the style of presentation as well. For example, many people use PowerPoint for their presentations, therefore, it is expected and can be predicted. Using a different technique in presenting can be refreshing and new and will attract attention.
To this end, I agree with the author’s premise of delivering ‘jaw-dropping moments’ and using ‘humor and shock to capture the audience’ (15). Both techniques make the presentation unique and ensure that the audience does not lose attention. However, I would insist that creating humor and making jokes are two different things. Hence, I second the author’s warning that people should avoid making jokes if they are not comic enough. In my view, making jokes can cause the speaker to deviate from the main topic. As such, it is important to be careful when trying to create light moments during public presentations as some things may end up being offensive to the audience.
Lastly, outstanding public speakers make memorable presentations, and this is the third element of great public speaking, according to Gallo (11). In part, this involves how audiences internalize the content that is presented to them. One technique the author advocates for is sticking to the 18-minute rule (62). Generally, a good presentation is neither supposed to be too short nor too long. The 18-minute rule is the time limit for TED speakers because the audience can easily understand and think about the issues raised in the talk during this time frame. From my experience, long lectures, for example, are exhaustive.
It is strenuous to keep one’s concentration in a three-hour lecture. Similarly, long public-speaking presentations can withdraw the attention of the audience. Due to the brain’s average attention span, a speaker must devise ways of ensuring that the audience remains engaged throughout the talk. In my opinion, the most effective technique of making a presentation memorable is to incorporate visual aids. Using visual aids helps in grabbing the attention of the audience as well. Gallo adds to this point by suggesting that the first 10 slides of a PowerPoint presentation should contain less than 40 words (64). This clearly shows that visual aids are essential in the making the presentation stick in the minds of the audience.
In conclusion, Carmine Gallo’s work on Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Principles of the World’s Top Minds gives readers some of the most important techniques for becoming exceptional public speakers. Drawing his insights from the famous TED talk show, the author summarizes the techniques employed by leading speakers into nine principles. He concludes that a good public presentation has the features of emotion, novelty and is also memorable. I concur with most of the insights given by the author. In particular, I believe that public speaking is an art that only passionate people can succeed in. Therefore, public speakers without a personal touch with the content of their talks are doomed to fail at convincing audiences to buy into their ideas.
In addition, I believe that the aspect of novelty expressed by the writer is also critical in determining the success of a public speaker. People like hearing about new things – not the same old stories. Lastly, making a memorable presentation is the dream of any speaker. In this regard, keeping the presentation short and clear and incorporating visual aids can help the audience to remember the contents of the talk.
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The author contends that incorporating personal stories can also help in enhancing memory. However, I think this is hard to achieve in the contemporary world where people are secretive about their personal lives for fear of being judged by society. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to sharpen their skills in public speaking and presentation.
Gallo, Carmine. Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. St. Martin’s Press, 2014.