Review - TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris J. Anderson

The following should be one of the most important quotes of our generation: "What are humans for? Humans are for being more human than we’ve ever been. More human in how we work. More human in what we learn. And more human in how we share that knowledge with each other." Chris J. Anderson.

Chris has presented the idea of a "throughline", which is "a connecting theme that ties together each narrative element. Every talk should have one." The throughline should be summarized in 15 words or less, and it's ideal that it has some bit of unexpectedness in them.

This guide helped me to ask myself the following questions before thinking about making my first Talk:
  1. Am i passionate about this topic?
  2. Will my Talk inspire curiosity?
  3. Will my talk be considered as a gift?
  4. Does my talk present fresh ideas?
  5. Will my talk be short enough to fit into the allotted time but long enough to present all my ideas with examples? 
  6. Am I knowledgeable enough so my talk can be worth the audience's time?
  7. Do I have credibility on this topic?
  8. Can I say 15 words that will persuade someone to hear my talk?

TED Talk Guide provide 5 tools that I can use to deliver my talk which are:

  1. Connection
  2. Narration
  3. Explanation
  4. Persuasion
  5. Revelation

So, when I share a story I need to base it on a character my audience can emphasize with. Then, I should build tension and offer the right level of detail. Finally, I should end with a satisfying resolution. Nevertheless, if the subject is complex I should start where most people are (do not assume that everyone knows what I know). After that, as Chris called it; I should "lit a fire call; curiosity" and bring the concepts one by one using metaphors and examples. Moreover, I should inject some early humor, add an anecdote, offer vivid examples, recruit third-party validation and use powerful visuals.

One of the tips that Chris emphasized upon were the feedback of the audience during and after rehearsals. Feedback could be the answers to the following questions:

  • Did I get your attention from the get-go?
  • Was I making eye contact?
  • Did the talk succeed in building a new idea for you?
  • Was each step of the journey satisfying?
  • Were there enough examples to make everything clear?
  • How was my tone of voice? Did it sound conversational or preachy?
  • Was there enough variety of tone and pacing?
  • Did I sound as if I was reciting the talk?
  • Were the attempts at humor natural or awkward? Was there enough humor?
  • How were the visuals? Did they help or get in the way?
  • Were my body gestures natural?
  • Did I finish on time?
  • Were there moments you got a little bored? Was there something I could cut?
  • Did you notice any annoying traits? Was I clicking my tongue? Swallowing too often? Shifting side to side? Repeatedly using a phrase like "you know" or "like"?

Therefore, Chris stresses that I should rehearse as many times as possible, preferably in front of people I am comfortable with. I should also work on the talk until it's comfortably under the allocated time and I must insist on honest feedback from my trusted audience. More importantly to me, I must aim to end up with a talk whose structure is second nature to me so that I  can concentrate on meaning what I say.

To get attention, Anderson suggests the following: eeliver a dose of drama, ignite curiosity, show a compelling slide, video, or object and tease, but don't give away.

To end the talk successfully, the guide speaks about 7 ways which are:

  1. Camera pull-back
  2. Call to action
  3. Personal commitment
  4. Values and vision
  5. Satisfying encapsulation
  6. Narrative symmetry
  7. Lyrical inspiration

This book is more than a guide to me; honestly speaking. It is an interesting and useful book that came at a crucial time in my life. Many of the ideas presented by Chris are well known but the way he structures them and the motivational tone made the difference. I am going to use this book as my guide to start thinking about doing my first public talk. I have learnt a lot from Chris Anderson and this guide and have been motivated greatly by his wisdom.

Tapon, F. (2020). Guide Book Review: TED Talks by Chris Anderson | Reviews | Work. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Jan. 2020].
Anderson, C. (2017). TED talks. Boston: Mariner Books.

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking
TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking