TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking – Chris Anderson Book Summary

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking – Chris Anderson | Free Book Summary

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking – Chris Anderson

Public speaking 101

Bad Talk And Bad Visuals

Avoid sales pitches or talks that focus on what your organization does.

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For the visuals, no slides = better than bad slides. For each slide, convey just one idea, and remember that less is more. For photos, have them take up the entire slide. Use only one typeface and three fonts throughout the presentation. Avoid bullets, italics, and underlines.

The Shape Of The Talk

Rehearsals help shape the talk. Ask for advice on clarity, tone, variety, and examples.Free book, podcast summaries

Structure: One potential structure for your talk: introduction, context, main concepts, practical applications, and conclusion.

Build Trust and Connection

When you build trust and connection with your audience, your idea will resonate. To do so, consider the following tactics.

Make eye contact as you walk confidently onto the stage.

Show vulnerability.

Drop the ego—consider being self-deprecating.

Tell Stories

Our minds co-evolved with storytelling, a byproduct of fire; elders were often the best storytellers that helped us imagine, dream, and understand the minds of others.

Stories are easy to follow, and they give us the ability to understand complex ideas and understand imagined realities. Adding stories to your public speaking toolkit will enhance your effectiveness.


With whatever you set out to explain, you need to incite curiosity. Make the audience care. You also should be incremental with new concepts.

Don’t confuse everyone with too many concepts. Use metaphors to help people understand.

Finally, show people drafts of your talk to avoid the curse of knowledge, assuming that other people have the same context as you.


Enhance your persuasion by offering a counterintuitive idea that convinces the audience that their worldview isn’t exactly right. If you can effectively prime people, add humour, and leverage anecdotes, you will increase your chances of success.

Do Things Differently

While there are many time-tested principles of public speaking, don’t be afraid to do things differently. Show your unique style and character. Challenge the norms. At the very least, be interesting.

 It also helps to believe in what you are talking about.

Script Vs Unscripted Vs Loosely Scripted

You have three options: write out a full script, write out a structure, or go unscripted.

With a script, it’s sometimes difficult to translate written words into a talk. You also don’t want to sound too rehearsed, so if you go with a script, you need to fully master your memory of the talk so that you can add your character back in.

Whereas scripts can make every word count, unscripted talks can be half-baked and rambling if they don’t have sufficient preparation. With unscripted talks, it can be helpful to have transition steps or a clear map of the journey that you can follow.

It’s Just Your Idea, Not You Personally

Have a mantra to keep you focused on why your talk counts, “This idea matters.”

Five minutes before you speak, breathe, do push-ups, and drink water. Remember the power of vulnerability. If you screw up, say, “Oops, sorry, a little nervous here.” Look at the audience for sympathetic and encouraging faces. And finally, remember that it’s not about you, it’s about your idea.

Make It Big!

Wear something that makes you feel good, and rehearse your speech in that clothing. Make sure it is comfortable and you feel confident wearing it.


Zoom out to the vision of your talk. Show the possibilities that your idea unlocks. Have a clear call to action to help people engage with your idea or pay it forward. Paint a vision of what the world will look like when the idea spreads.

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