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Books for marketers: Talk Like TED

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Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. Recommended: for speakers who take the craft seriously and TED talk devotees.

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The foul-mouthed bear? Ted Turner? Big Ted?

There is something a little irksome about Carmine Gallo’s book Talk Like TED. Perhaps it’s the shamelessness of writing a book that is entirely dependent on the efforts of others, perhaps it’s the blind faith the author has in the TED talk formula or the repeated plugs for his own speaker coaching skills.

Still, if you want to improve your speaking or are fascinated by the globocult that is Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) this book is for you.

TED talks have redefined what Westerners expect of public speakers. We want work-perfect presenters who win our hearts with personal stories, wow us with slick visuals and walk the stage looking good every step of the way.

In many ways this has lifted the bar for non-TEDsters, though it has created a template that some of us might wish to ignore.

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When TED Talks, people listen.

Gallo knows the formula inside and out. This comes from watching every TED talk, timing it, transcribing it, breaking it down into its constituent parts and interviewing many of the (less famous) speakers. He has even plotted their hand movements.

Surely we didn’t really need to have Al Gore’s presentation presented in a two column chart with his words on one side and a description of his hand movements on the other. Surely he hired an intern for all this bollocks?

The result of this industriousness is a book that promises to “reveal the nine public speaking secrets of the world’s top minds”. Oh dear. Undoubtedly there is wisdom to be gained.

While Gallo may be a great speaking coach he is a writer in need of an editor. Talk Like TED has a convoluted format. Not only are there nine “secrets”, there are groups of secrets within each secrets, there are many quotes from the greats, TED notes, subheadings, and breakout boxes.

There is an absolute acceptance that the TED talk formula – and it is a formula – is the definitive way to present to groups of people. Nowhere does Gallo seriously suggest that you do things your way or acknowledge that those of us who are a little less famous, who speak in spotlights a little dimmer, may not have the same options available to us. To Gallo, the more YouTube hits you have, the better the speaker.

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Public speaking tip: launch new iPhone. Wish we’d thought of that.

Gallo Carmine has history – his previous work was: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Clearly he too has a formula, knows when he’s on a good thing and sticks to it.

Few of us are philanthropist rockstars, hero pilots, silicon valley CEOs or bloody Malcolm Gladwell but we can heed Gallo’s advice to tell a story, to be brief, to incorporate levity, to deliver one killer statistic, to ensure that we teach people something they did not know.

The book also provides plenty of insights into what goes into creating and delivering an 18-minute Ted talk. It’s a cult we tell you! Run!

Ironically, for a book that praises TED’s brevity Talk Like TED is repetitive and far too long. Like so many books it cherry picks neuroscience, talking about attention spans, recollections and visual processing. Whatever!Just be interesting and of value we say.

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A book your audiences will love.

Still, if you want to improve your public speaking Talk Like TED is a worthwhile read that will give you food for thought and some specific ways to lift your game. To Gallo’s credit there are dozens of pages of notes footnotes. Or maybe that was the intern.

Why not book our new Present Savvy workshop for the TEDwannabees in your life?

You can also do worse than download our free e-book speak savvy which is free, short, practical, and yours within minutes.

 

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Read it. Think it.

And read our rave review of Freakonomics – a must-read for marketers everywhere.

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