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TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking Paperback – April 4, 2017
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“The TED Talk has reinvented the art of rhetoric for the twenty-first century. Goodbye to windy academese, scientific gobbledygook, pompous moralizing, powerpoint chloroform—we now know that “ideas worth spreading” can indeed be spread far and wide, and with clarity and panache. Behind this revolution lies Chris Anderson, who had a vision that powerful ideas can improve the world and has developed a coherent philosophy and a set of guidelines for compelling communication. This book may restore rhetoric to its time-honored place as one of the essential skills of an educated citizen.” —Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Sense of Style
“Nobody in the world better understands the art and science of public speaking than Chris Anderson. He has nurtured, coaxed, and encouraged so many speakers over the years (myself included)—helping us to bring forth our very best performances onstage, even when we were at our most nervous and overwhelmed. He is the absolutely perfect person to have written this book, and it will be a gift to many.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Big Magic and The Signature of All Things
“This is not just the most insightful book ever written on public speaking—it’s also a brilliant, profound look at how to communicate. If you ever plan to utter a sound, this is a must-read. It gives me hope that words can actually change the world.” —Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times best-selling author of Give and Take and Originals
“Over the past twenty-five years, TED has revitalized the whole world of conferences and speaking events. Here for the first time, Chris Anderson and the TED leadership team set out all they’ve learnt about the dos and don’ts of public speaking. An essential read for all event organizers and speakers. Is there a single recipe for a great speech? Of course not. But there are some essential ingredients, which the TED team sets out here with concision, verve, and wit (which are also some of the ingredients). An inspiring, contemporary guide to the venerable arts of oratory.” —Sir Ken Robinson, best-selling author of The Element, Out of Our Minds, and Creative Schools
“The TED Talk may well be the defining essay genre of our time: what the pamphlet was to the eighteenth century, and the newspaper op-ed was to the twentieth. TED Talks is the guidebook to this new language, written by the man who made into it a global force.” —Steven Johnson, best-selling author of How We Got to Now
“Anderson shares the secrets behind the best TED presentations, believing that anyone can be taught the skills to deliver a compelling speech—TED-style or otherwise. It’s all presented very naturally and with an upbeat, positive tone . . . Readers will be able to use the techniques for any manner of public speaking.” —Booklist
“[Anderson] covers important topics such as making a personal connection with audiences, explaining complicated subjects to laypeople, priming people to accept counterintuitive ideas, and cultivating a sense of showmanship. He also addresses aspects of preparation, such as knowing what vocal styles to avoid, planning attire, and managing nervousness.This is an invaluable guide to effective presentations, and catnip for all the TED fans out there.” —Publishers Weekly
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Bobby Fischer’s book was one of the first popular books I read that used programmed learning… stepping the reader through a series of painless exercises. I’ve also seen that technique also used in a book that teaches math by setting up the problems faced by Euclid, etc. and giving readers enough clues so they too can reach their own aha moments.
While TED Talks doesn’t use programmed learning, it is very painless reading, packed with lots of good ideas. You may not come away and be able to deliver a TED Talk right away but you will come away with at least several new ideas on how to improve your ability to get your message across in group settings.
Anyone who has seen several TED Talks knows there is no one way to deliver the talks but the book has plenty to say about what generally doesn’t work and what does. I’ll just hit on a few that struck me as helpful:
• Don’t give a sales pitch. The speaker’s job is to give to the audience, not to take.
• Sometimes it takes a little demolition before changing minds. Example: In ancient societies, a third of men died violent deaths. Modern media plays up violence because that’s what sells.We've changed. After crushing their stereotypes, now you can go onto your points.
• Take your audience down your own path of discovery. By asking them to join the process, they get more involved.
• Make sure your words and images work together.
• Don’t leave a slide up once you are finished with it. Better to put up a blank screen to avoid distraction.
• Transitions in Keynote should be kept simple. Cut when shifting to a new idea. Dissolve when slides are related. Dazzle distracts.
• Most TED speakers memorize and then practice so much it sounds spontaneous.
• Wrinkled clothes telegraph you don’t try. If you don't care, why should they?
• Breathe deeply, take your power pose. Be sure to hydrate.
• Keep your notes by your water. When you grab a drink, you can quickly glance at where you are. Notes can be there if you need them. Hopefully, you won't.
I’m sure you’ll come up with your own list of tips from this very helpful book.
As head of TED, not only has Chris Anderson seen a lot of extraordinary speakers, but also a lot of terrible ones. So he knows the ingredients of both great and mediocre speaking, and how to transform the latter into the former. He presents a highly structured framework useful for beginners all the way to seasoned professionals:
• Foundation: presentation literacy; idea building; common traps to avoid; and the all-important throughline
• Talk Tools: connection; narration; explanation; persuasion; revelation
• Preparation: visuals; scripting; run-throughs; the open and the close
• On Stage: wardrobe; mental prep; setup; voice and presence.
Anderson does a particularly deft job of explaining the throughline concept and emphasizing its importance. So many talks and pitches miss this point, consequently making only a fraction of their potential impact. What holds together the disparate elements of the talk? Without a clear throughline, listeners may never take any of your lovely ideas home with them.
The advice in this book ranges from the lofty and overarching -- e.g. a show of vulnerability brings the audience to your side -- to the technical and specific -- e.g. busy patterns on shirts come out looking funny on video. You may want to speak your talk and transcribe *that* instead of writing it out first. As a professional speaker and speaking coach, I really appreciate how Anderson has compiled many trade secrets that are understood unconsciously but haven't necessarily been articulated all in one spot. And the illustrative examples drawn from all-time greatest TED talks -- Sir Ken Robinson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jill Bolte-Taylor -- are alone worth the price of admission.
If you are a professional speaker or an aspiring one, this is a supremely useful reference. I applaud that one of the main themes of the book is to *serve your audience*. If you only do that, all your talks can only improve. And special thanks to Chris, for being kind enough to release this book just in time for my upcoming presentation :)
-- Ali Binazir, M.D., M.Phil., Speaking Coach & Pitch Doctor, KNP Communications; author, The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible, the highest-rated dating book on Amazon for 4+ years