Three presentation tips from TED

Talk Like TED. I recently picked up Carmine Gallo’s Talk Like TED: The Nine Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds to try to improve my presentation skills. (For those unfamiliar with TED, or Technology Education Design, talks, check out the website.) This book has some great advice with memorable examples, and I’m looking forward to applying these in my own presentations. As I prepare to teach a teen writing workshop, I thought I’d share three of my favorite tips from Gallo’s book.

1. Whenever possible, tell a story the audience can relate to. If you connect what you’re presenting to a personal story, or a story about a friend or family member, people will be more effected by your talk. Think about why the topic or idea is important to you, and work that into your presentation. For example, I’m opening my teen writing workshop with three “writers’ secrets” to inspire teens who may talk themselves out of writing because they’re afraid they won’t be good enough. Since I’m not published yet, I chose to share the story of a published, New York Times bestselling author to show that even professionals struggle on this journey.

Unicorn farting a book.

This is not how it works. Unicorn image by DeviantArt user GremlinLegions.

2. Use humor, but don’t try to be a comedian. People like and remember funny presentations, but that doesn’t mean you personally have to be funny. You can share a funny quote or image (make sure it relates to your topic, of course!) and let those tools get the laughs. One of my slides for the teen writing workshop includes an image of a unicorn farting a rainbow that turns into a book. I plan to pair this with “writers’ secret” number two: all first drafts are bad (in other words, it doesn’t work like this).

3. When using PowerPoint, Prezi, or their equivalent, aim for fewer words and more pictures. People remember images much better than they remember words. If you can pair what you’re discussing with a powerful image, it will have a greater impact on your audience. For example, I plan to show a picture of Andrew Luck as I remind writers that, just as star quarterbacks weren’t born throwing touchdown passes, no writer should expect her first draft of her first work to be a masterpiece.

Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful as you prepare your own presentations, by they writing-related or otherwise. If you haven’t read Talk Like TED, I recommend you pick it up. Some of the tips Gallo are no-brainers, but some will probably surprise you.

Do you have any presentation tips to add? Please share in the comments!


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