Book Review

TED Talks – The official TED guide to public speaking

TED Talks – The official TED guide to public speaking
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I am not going to give a public speech any time soon. I was just curious on what goes into the preparation of those speakers who give amazing talks.You will be surprised if I tell you that you should read it immediately. Even though the book is meant for public speaking, if you follow the techniques mentioned in the book for daily conversations, your life will change dramatically.
One night when I was reading this book, I had an eureka moment. I just realized that there are very few rules which we need to learn in life. Whatever might be your profession, whatever your life goals are, you need to apply the same rules based on the scenario.
For example, this book talks about public speaking. But what is the purpose of a public speech? It is to plant the seed of your idea in the mind of audience. What do I do when I write? I want to motivate you to take action on your life goals. Is goal of public speaking any different from writing? Leave about writing. What do you do when you are conversing? You are trying to make the other person agree with your views.
Ultimately, we all want to be heard and liked while we make a difference in the life of the other person.
The first half of the book talks only about this. I felt mesmerized and felt it to be unputdownable.
But after a while, it got boring when he talked about the font to be used and other minute things.
After bearing through that section, it again got interesting and became unputdownable.

Key Points


  • You can only use the tools that your audience has access to
  • Common traps
    • Don’t give a sales pitch – be a giver and not a taker
    • Don’t under prepare
    • Don’t boast about organization
    • Don’t perform inspiration- it has to be earned.
  • The through line
    • What is the precise idea you want to build in your audience
    • What is their take away
    • Overstuffed equals under explained
    • Show why it matters . . . what’s the question you’re trying to answer, the problem you’re trying to solve, the experience you’re trying to share
    • Flesh out each point you make with real examples, stories, facts
    • Great writing is all about the power of the deleted word.” It’s true of speaking too.


Five core tools that speakers use
  1. Connection
  2. Narration
  3. Explanation
  4. Persuasion
  5. Revelation

1.Connection- get Personal

    • Brown strongly recommends that you don’t share parts of yourself that you haven’t yet worked through
    • Humor hacks away the main resistance to listening to a talk.
    • Self-deprecation, in the right hands, is a beautiful thing

2. Narration -Tell a story

  • Tales of failure, awkwardness, misfortune, danger, or disaster, told authentically, are often the moment when listeners shift from plain vanilla interest to deep engagement.

3.Explanation – From Explanation to Excitement

  • Ask people if something is not clear in draft version
  • Do a jargon check

4.Persuasion – Reason can change minds forever

  • Persuasion means convincing an audience that the way they currently see the world isn’t quite right. And that means taking down the parts that aren’t working, as well as rebuilding something better

5.Revelation- Take my breath away

  • It is ok to be silent
  • Let the visuals do the talk


Ted Talks/ Ted speakers mentioned in the book:


    • Sophie Scott on laughter
    • Ken Robinson
    • Ron Gutman gave a TED Talk on smile
    • Sherwin nuland
    • Hans Rosling (revelatory animated charts),
    • David Deutsch (outside-the-box scientific thinking)
    • Nancy Kanwisher (accessible neuroscience
    • David Christian (history on a grand canvas).
    • Eat, Pray, Love
    • Mysteries of the Unseen World
    • Ross Lovegrove’s engaging walk through his nature-inspired design projects
    • David McCandless
    • George Monbiot
    • Julian Treasure -“How to speak so that people want to listen
    • Kelly McGonigal
    • Jon Ronson
    • Amy Cuddy
    • Jill Bolte Taylor
    • Neri Oxman
    • Woody Norris
    • Steve Schklair
    • Luca Turin
    • Roman Mars.
    • Mark ronson
    • Interview – Elon musk, bill gates
    • Sarah Kay
    • Clint Smith
    • Malcolm London
    • Suheir Hammad
    • Shane Koyczan
    • Rives
    • Billy Collins
    • Shane Koyczan’s
    • LESSIG
    • Beverly and Dereck Joubert
    • Photographer Frans Lanting
    • Hugh Herr

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Happy reading the official guide to public speaking!

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  1. Interesting takeaways. I must give it a read. I recently did a workshop and totally felt, I tanked it. So need some guidance and some more practice.

    1. Yes. The author mentions the best TED Talks are the ones where the talk has been thoroughly rehearsed.

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