Pro Tips

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss public speaking strategies of effective public speakers

In this section, we’ll focus in on a few key tips and resources drawn from bestselling author and communication coach Carmine Gallo’s Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. For context, TED Talks started as a one-time TED (technology, entertainment, and design) event in 1985, and have since morphed into a global brand and experience. At last count, TEDx (independently organized, local-level conferences) were being produced in over 130 countries at a rate of five events per day. As Gallo notes, “the world is clearly hungry for great ideas presented in an engaging way.” Consider the following four points a jump-start to further reflection and skills development from a professional public speaker.

Understand the Power of Pathos

Although emotion doesn’t factor into the definition of persuasion, it is an essential ingredient. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle identified the three elements of persuasion as ethos (credibility), logos (logic) and pathos (emotion). When Gallo analyzed human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s “We Need to Talk About Injustice” talk, voted one of the most “persuasive” on, the results were surprising to many: 65% pathos, 25% logos and 10% ethos. Emotion often drives decision making and opinion formation.

Believe in Your Message

To quote law enforcement veteran Morgan Wright, “If you don’t believe what you’re saying, your movements will be awkward and not natural. No amount of training—unless you’re a trained espionage agent or psychopath—will allow you to break that incongruence between your works and actions.” You must trust in what you are sharing with your audience or it will come across as insincere.

Keep Your Speech Brief

Keep your speech succinct, about 20 minutes or less. The science behind this ideal speech length explains how too much information creates a “cognitive backlog” and state of anxiety in your audience which prevents the transfer of ideas. A shorter speech imposes a discipline that forces you to clarify your ideas and helps you communicate more effectively. Brevity is also key to this era of sharing online; if your speech is recorded and available on the internet, a shorter speech is easier to publish and access.

Make it Memorable

Invest time in distilling your big idea into a short statement that’s captivating and shareable. For perspective, scan @TED Talk Quotes on Twitter or search quotes on the site. A short, memorable summary statement makes it easy for your audience to remember both you and the point of your speech when you include unforgettable phrases like:

If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough. – Mario Andretti

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.  – Warren Buffett

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. – Steve Jobs

Practice Question