Talk Like TED

Ideas are the currency of the 21st century.

Some people know how to communicate their ideas like no one else, a skill that elevates their prestige and intensifies their influence in today’s society. There is nothing more inspiring than a bold idea presented by an excellent speaker. Ideas, when packaged and efficiently transmitted, have the power to change the world. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know the techniques the world’s greatest communicators have in common and study and apply and apply those secrets to delight your audience? Now, this is possible, thanks to an internationally renowned conference that offers its best presentations for free on the internet. That’s TED, the acronym for Technology, Education and Design. The lessons presented here come from the scientific analysis of hundreds of TED presentations, personal interviews with their most popular speakers, and insights accumulated over the years of mentoring inspiring leaders of the world’s most admired brands.

The work will help anyone who wants to make presentations and give lectures with more confidence and authority. If you have ideas worth spreading, set aside time to sharpen the techniques that will help you present them more persuasively than you ever imagined.

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Ideas worth spreading

Richard Saul Wurman created TED in 1984 without the intention of repeating the conference. Six years later, the event was reinvented as a four-day conference in Monterey, California. For $ 475, attendees could attend a variety of lectures on technology, education, and design.

Chris Anderson, then the editor of a technology magazine, acquired the conference in 2001 and moved it to Long Beach, California, in 2009. TED was also flown to Vancouver, Canada, in 2014, reflecting its growing international appeal. Until 2005, TED was an annual event: four days, 50 speakers and 18-minute presentations. That same year, Anderson included a conference called TEDGlobal, aimed at reaching international audiences. In 2009, the organization started to grant licenses to third parties organizing TEDx events. In three years, more than 16 thousand lectures were held in TEDx around the world.

Currently, five TEDx’s are held in more than 130 countries. In 2014, one of them was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Despite the surprising growth of the conference industry, TED speakers were exposed to a much wider global audience with the launch of in June 2006. Initially, the site only posted six lectures to test the market. Six months later, the site had about 40 talks but had already attracted more than three million views. It is clear that the world was interested in great ideas presented compellingly. On November 13, 2012, presentations have hit the mark of one billion views and are currently seen on average 1.5 million times a day. Videos have been translated into up to 90 languages, and 17 TED talks are viewed every second of every day.

According to Chris Anderson, TED used to be made up of 800 people congregating once a year and now involves about one million people a day attending TED talks online. When they posted a few lectures to take a test, the enthusiasm was such that it turned the organization upside down and started thinking about TED not so much as a conference and more as “ideas worth spreading,” creating a great website around the concept. The conference is still the engine, but the site is the amplifier that spreads the ideas around the world.

The first six TED presentations posted on the Internet are considered true classics among fans, who have given themselves the affectionate nickname “TEDsters.” Speakers included Al Gore, Sir Ken Robinson and Tony Robbins. Some of them used traditional slides; others did not. Either way, everyone gave exciting, original and memorable talks.

Today, TED has become such an influential platform that famous actors and musicians go straight to the TED stage when they have ideas to spread. A few days after accepting the Oscar for best picture, Ben Affleck, Argo’s director, appeared at the TED in Long Beach to talk about his work in Congo. That same week, Bono, lead singer of U2, gave a presentation on the success of campaigns to combat poverty around the world. When celebrities want to be taken seriously, they rise to the TED stage. Sheryl Sandberg,  Facebook’s COO, wrote her bestseller “Make It Happen” after her TED presentation on women at work became a viral phenomenon on

Steve Jobs’ speaking secrets

There is a famous Steve Jobs speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005 that was a magnificent example of his ability to captivate audiences. Curiously, that speech is also one of the most watched videos on Although not officially a TED talk, it contains the same elements as the best TED presentations and has been viewed more than 15 million times and is available online.

Dale Carnegie for the XXI Century

When it came to writing about the secrets of oratory distilled from TED presentations, the concept was thought of as “The Dale Carnegie of the 21st Century.” Carnegie wrote the first public speaking self-help book in 1915, ‘How to Speak in Public and Enchant People.’ Carnegie’s intuition turned out to be flawless. He recommended the speakers to keep the talks short. He said storytelling was a very effective way to connect emotionally with the audience. He suggested the use of rhetorical techniques, such as metaphors and analogies. Three-quarters of a century before the invention of PowerPoint, Carnegie was already talking about the use of visual aids. He knew full well the importance of enthusiasm, practice, and a solid presentation to engage listeners. Everything Carnegie recommended in 1915 continues to be to this day the basis of effective communication. Although Carnegie had agreed on the concept, he did not count on the technology currently available. Scientists using fMRI studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging, can scan people’s brains to see exactly what areas are activated when performing a specific task such as speaking or listening to someone. This technology and other modern science tools have led to an avalanche of studies in the field of communication.

Today, we are all sellers

The most popular TED speakers presentations stand out in a sea of ​​ideas. There are three components to an inspiring presentation. The best talks are:

TOUCHING: they touch the heart.

ORIGINALS: they teach something new.

MEMORABLE: they present the content in an unforgettable way.

Moving Talks

The best communicators can enter your head and your heart. Most people who make a presentation forget the “heart.” It is necessary to learn to release your inner master, identifying your greatest passions. Research still not published in the greater media explains why passion is the key to mastering a skill like public speaking. The art of storytelling is important because stories help listeners get emotionally involved with the content presented. New studies demonstrate how stories effectively “synchronize” your mind with your audience’s, enabling you to create much deeper connections than other modes of expression. TED presenters exhibit authentic and natural verbal and body language, almost as if they were chatting instead of addressing a large audience. Some spend 200 hours rehearsing a presentation.

Original Presentations

According to neuroscientists interviewed for this book, novelty is the most effective way to catch the attention of listeners. Kevin Allocca, YouTube trendsetter, told a TED audience that in a world where two-day video uploads every minute on the internet, “only the truly original and unexpected can excel.” The brain cannot ignore novelty, and when you adopt the techniques presented in this section, your audience will not be able to ignore you.


You may have original ideas, but if your audience cannot remember what you said, then those ideas will not make any difference. The 18 minutes TED talk allowance is the ideal time frame to communicate.

Liberate your inner master

Dive deep to discover your connection, more expressive and unique, with the theme of your presentation. Passion leads to mastery, and your presentation will be nothing without it, but keep in mind that your motivation may not be so clear. The technique works because scientific studies have shown that passion is contagious. An uninspired person can not inspire anyone. You are much more likely to convince and inspire your listeners if you are engaged, enthusiastic, and have a special connection with your topic.

What makes your heart race?

Ask yourself, “What makes my heart beat faster? Stronger?” Your passion is neither a passing interest nor a hobby. Passion is something extremely important and a central element of your identity. Once you identify your passion, can you tell if it influences your daily activities? Can you incorporate it into your professional life? Your real passion must be the subject of your communications and will truly inspire your audience.

Why passion is important

Simply because it is contagious and touches everyone who notices when there is a higher feeling in your life. Talking with passion makes all the difference, and it’s easier to convince others of your ideas.

Your brain never stops growing

Thanks to neuroplasticity, scientists are discovering that the brain grows and changes throughout life. The intense repetition of a task creates new and stronger neural pathways. As a person specializes in a particular area, the brain regions associated with these abilities actually grows.

Take down borders with stories

Do you think an idea can be tiring? Bring down the border of monotony by telling a story, a personal example that can contextualize what you want to your listeners.

Lead with stories and be a sucessful businessperson

A well-told story gives leaders a great advantage in a market that is increasingly competitive. An engaging narrative has the power to persuade customers, employees, investors, and stakeholders that your business, product, or idea can help them achieve the success they want. We are all born storytellers, but somehow we lose this skill when we enter the corporate world. This is especially true when making PowerPoint presentations. We fall into “presentation mode” and forget that it is more effective to convey information using an emotional connection made possible by a story.


Include heroes and villains. Whether it’s a movie or a novel, every good story has a hero and a villain. A good business presentation has the same cast of characters. A speaker reveals a challenge (the villain) faced by a company or industry. The protagonist (the hero) presents (her)himself to deal with the challenge. Lastly, the villagers are released from the villain, the problems are resolved, and everyone lives happily ever after. In some cases, the villain may be a real person or a competitor, but be careful in such cases. Be sure to show the hero coming in to save the day.

Master the art of storytelling

The best speakers are nonconformists, adventurers, and rebels who break the rules and take risks. They tell stories to express their passion for the subject and to connect with their audience. Ideas are the currency of the 21st century, and stories facilitate the exchange of this currency. Stories illustrate, clarify, and inspire.

Connecting with the audience

It is not easy to look natural; it is something that requires practice. Just ask Amanda Palmer, who dominated the TED stage of 2013. Her performance, “The Art of Asking,” reached more than a million views a few days after being posted on In the week after her talk, Palmer wrote a long post on her blog thanking the many people who helped her create, rehearse, and present her life. It took a group of people to make a TED talk possible. The post also confirms that doing a presentation that touches people deeply requires a lot of work.

Brain’s natural “save” button

Dopamine is a powerful chemical. A new relationship triggers a wave of dopamine, which declines over time, hence why therapists recommend finding ways to keep the excitement going after several years of marriage. Moving to the next level of a video game can trigger a dose of dopamine, as well as the clinking of coins being spit from a slot machine or the use of cocaine. Drugs and gambling are artificial activators and lead to serious consequences. Isn’t there a less damaging way to achieve this mental trigger?

Don’t limit your exploration to your field of activity

You will be a more interesting person if you are willing to learn and share ideas from areas quite different from yours. The best innovators connect ideas from different areas.

The best talks reveal unprecedented ideas

Today’s environment, modeled on social media, is a cacophony of ideas, especially cliches, banalities, moldy and worn-out ideas. How many times have you heard an athlete or a CEO saying, “All I did was collaborate with the team.” How many times have you heard a consultant suggest: “The best leaders know how to hear.” How many times have you heard marriage counselors recommend better communication as the secret of a long and happy marriage? There is truth to all of these observations; however, when you hear warnings packaged and presented in the same way over and over again, they lose their impact. They lose the ability to make you think differently. They lose the ability to inspire.

Create surprising moments

The surprising moment of a presentation is when the presenter creates an impressive, astonishing, or so touching and memorable event that holds the listeners’ attention and is remembered for a long time after the presentation has been completed. The technique works because surprising moments create what neuroscientists call an emotionally charged event, a state of intense emotion that increases the chances of your audience remembering your message and doing something about it.

Give a light talk

Don’t take your words or theme too seriously. The brain also loves a good joke. Give your audience a reason to smile. The technique works because a sense of humor knocks down defenses, leaving your audience more receptive to your message. Individuals also end up sympathetic to you and are more likely to support or do business with people they care about.

Stick with the 18 minutes rule

Eighteen minutes is the ideal time for a presentation. If you cannot avoid a longer presentation, incorporate brief intervals with stories, videos, demonstrations every ten minutes. Researchers have found that”cognitive backlog” or, in other words, too much information prevents good transmission of ideas. Chris Anderson, TED curator, explains the concept as follows: “[18 minutes] is enough time to make a serious presentation brief enough to keep people attentive. It turns out that this duration also works great on the internet. It is the time of a break for coffee. In that time you watch an excellent talk and forward the link to two or three acquaintances. Thus, the lecture can turn into a viral phenomenon very easily. The effectiveness of the 18 minutes also forces people to be disciplined in the selection of content, as in Twitter. Forcing speakers accustomed to talking for 45 minutes to reduce content to 18 minutes, you get them to think seriously about what they mean. What is the main message they want to convey? The restriction has an enlightening effect; it forces discipline. ”

Another TED Tip

Visualize the content. Add photos, background images to charts, tables, and diagrams. Restrict the first ten slides to no more than 40 words. This will force you to think of creative ways to tell a memorable and engaging story instead of filling the slide with unnecessary texts that only distract listeners. Eliminate bullets from most of your slides. The most popular TED presenters use slides completely free of bullets. Text and bullets are the least memorable ways to communicate information to your audience. You may not be able to achieve this goal on all slides, but it’s a good exercise. By forcing yourself to eliminate long-winded slides, you’ll find that you can have a lot more fun with your presentation. And the best part: your audience will love it!


While vision is our prevailing sense, it is easier to remember information when multiple senses are stimulated at the same time. Our hearing is very important in this process. The way you say something has the power to touch the soul of your listener.

Final Notes

Since school days, many are afraid to present in public. In this TED guide for transmitting ideas in the internet age, you have seen what it takes to become a master in the art of public speaking. It is not difficult to speak in public, just practice, study, stick to the techniques and be clear If you follow these tips you will be a specialist TED speaker.

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