Three TED secrets that can make you a better communicator

If you’re one of the one-and-a-half million people who watch TED talks online every day, you’ve likely been inspired, energized or influenced by the presenters. TED is a live and online platform for brilliant and motivational people with ideas worth sharing in the fields of technology, entertainment and design. (Fun fact: The first letters of these three words make up the TED acronym!)

Speakers on the TED stage use similar tactics in their talks. For example, their talks are memorized, they use slides sparingly (if at all), and they try to inspire the audience to take action.

And, after finishing Talk like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo, it’s clear that TED-talkers use other communication best practices to boost their presentations.

In the book, Gallo dives into the elements of successful TED talks, which he compiled from watching top TED talks, conducting research and interviewing speakers.

Communication professionals can also benefit from learning from the secrets of TED. Just as TED-talkers incorporate sound and time-tested principles into their presentations to make their arguments more compelling, you can also weave these same principles into your professional communications.

So, whether you’re communicating about a client’s product or service, or preparing for a job interview in which you’ll be communicating about yourself, incorporate these secrets into your approach to help generate the results you want.

The three TED secrets that can help communicators are:

Communication secret 1: Unleash your passion

Before a pitch, meeting or job interview, dig deep to determine something that you’re passionate about in connection to the topic at hand. A passion is positive, intensely meaningful and core to your identity.

Even if you’re not doing a TED talk, deriving passion from a topic and then allowing it to trickle through into your professional life can engage and inspire the people you communicate with.

Why? Science shows that passion is contagious. You have a greater chance of inspiring your audience if you’re also inspired yourself.

Also important is the intent behind why you share your passion with others. If you’re altruistic about how your passion will benefit not just a few but many people, it’s likely that your ideas will be more compelling.

Gallo states that career happiness and the ability to inspire people are all connected. Success and great careers are linked to doing what you love.

Communication secret 2: Master storytelling

Telling stories can allow you to reach people’s hearts and minds. Stories can help you connect with your audience in more meaningful and compelling ways than if you were to share only data or facts. In the book, Gallo cites the example of TED-talker Brian Stevenson, who earned the longest standing ovation in TED history after spending 65 per cent of his talk telling personal stories.

Brain scans show that stories stimulate and engage the brain, helping the speaker to connect with the audience and increasing the likelihood that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view.

Through storytelling, you can build narratives to help people understand issues, build trust and break down walls. If the audience is inclined to disagree with your argument, stories can help to reduce resistance.

Communication secret 3: Have a conversation

Ironically, it takes practice to appear natural and authentic. Communications that truly move people are a result of hard work.

Practice and internalize your messages so that you can focus on building an emotional rapport with the audience. Ensure that your voice, gestures and body language will be congruent with the story and information you’re sharing.

If you’re ever hitting the TED stage, you should know that TED presenters usually rehearse their talks for one hour for every minute of a presentation. Although this is likely too much time to prepare for a pitch, meeting or job interview, this fact drives home the point that practice is key for conveying information in a confident and conversational manner.

Which of these three TED secrets do you think is the most important for communication professionals to use? Share in the comments.

Image credits:, Macmillan Audio.

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