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The curator of Ted Talks has unveiled the recipe to master the skill of public speaking. Chris Anderson has seen hundreds of talks and has helped improve them as well. The author has delved deep into the skill of public speaking and shared what makes a speech inspirational from informational.

The book named ‘Ted Talks’ states the very basic principle that one should be him/herself in a talk. For example, if you are a scientist, act like you are a scientist and don’t sound like a magician or a dancer.

Furthermore, it outlines that there are many formulas for a great talk. One can memorize a speech and reproduce it to the audience while another individual might not resort to memorizing; both are right. Anderson states that even the conversational style of public speaking can push the audience to the edge of their chairs.

Anderson has outlined his formula, derived from experience gained over a period of time. Let’s learn more about what one can do for delivering a powerful and inspiring speech.

Style Over Substance

Anderson mentions specifically that ‘style without substance is awful’ which implies that you can be a great showman but you would put off the audience without worthy content.

Keep this aspect in mind that these views about public speaking come from a person who is heading a non-profit Ted, the talks of which are viewed over 1 billion times annually.

The Ted chief has maintained that the thing which matters the most is to share with people anything which is valuable even if its ‘anything’ which can compel people to see the world differently.


Chris Anderson has emphasized the importance of storytelling for delivering a powerful talk. It has been stressed enough that we humans love stories and we need to frame our talks like a story.

Chris Anderson in conversation with Elon Musk

There should be no exaggeration in the narrative, however, a wordplay which doesn’t constitute to lie could invoke interest of the audience. The author has compared public speaking with a journey which is mutually taken by the speaker and a reader.

Power of Imagination Against Public Speaking Fear

The book encapsulates how the power of imagination can work wonders and can also reduce the fear. For instance to inculcate an idea into the minds, one can portray the story and let the audience imagine.

For example read this:

I want you to imagine a person sitting on top of mountain with his head down. His hairs are curly and he is wearing shorts. The man has grown a beard and it seems that he hasn’t bathed in weeks.

Consider someone is speaking this in front of you. Haven’t that speaker already caught your attention and you are moving along his words and portraying the man yourself. This is what imagination does to your public speaking.

Avoid Sales Pitch

The book emphasizes that public speaking should differ from a sales pitch. If you want to attract people towards your organization or business, do it in a subtle way that you should not sound like a salesman.

Anderson has rightly mentioned that a speaker is to give to the audience and not take anything away from them.

Plan It, Execute It

The art of public speaking fails if the speaker is casual on stage. For instance, do not say that you did not think over any topic and suddenly something popped up in your mind while driving to the location.

By conveying this, a speaker is saying that he/she did not find it valuable to prepare a topic. Indirectly, a speaker is conveying that he/she did not bother much about the time of the audience to give them something valuable after research. If the audience feels that everything is off-the-cuff, they will reassure themselves that the speaker has not anything valuable as he or she did not prepare it in advance.

In the backdrop of preparation, a public speaker should invest time in choice of clothing as well. It is a known fact one can earn the audience even before speaking and wrinkled clothes convey the message that you did not try hard.


An important aspect in public speaking highlighted in the book is ‘Throughline’ which is the binding theme that connects each narrative explained by the speaker. It implies that the speaker should connect his ideas with the main idea.

If the issue being explained is climate change, different aspects should converge to this main idea.

Keep it Crispy, Sell Like Crazy

Unless your topic is technical, try to keep your talk small. The book mentions a quote attributed to many individuals which goes like:

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

Sir Ken Robinson Formula For Polishing Public Speaking Skills

Sir Ken Robinson, whose Ted talk broke the internet, explains about his formula to a great public speaking with this:


So what?

Now what?

It means that a speaker should keep in mind the main issue, its implications and the way forward. Any talk centered around this principles can be effective.


The importance of humor in public speaking is enormous. As a matter of fact, humor in the start of the speech can hook the audience. Once the audience is hooked, it is very easy to retain them and introduce the main idea.

Actually, we humans are resistant to listening any stranger talk wisdom. What humor does is to remove the resistance to listening. Humor creates social bond which is important for sharpening public speaking skill. If there is a glitch and a pause is available, you can use a witty remark but one should not gasp for applaud afterwards.

Test on A Human Then on Humans

Best selling author Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that a public speaker should first test the talk on one person and note the feedback. This feedback should then be used to edit the speech to be delivered finally.

Revealing The Drama

The public speaking skill can be honed by looking at the ‘drama’ portion of the story you are telling. Every story or idea has a ‘drama’ attached to it. A public speaker is skilled if that drama is not revealed in the begging as it removes curiosity.

Furthermore, in revealing the drama and the idea, accents should not be faked if one is not skilled enough. The audience decodes original and fake accent and can spot the one who is trying to fake it.

Create a Relation

Your idea might be a bit technical but in public speaking, try to relate it with the audience. For instance, people would listen to anything about virus but they would not be interested in bacteria that much. The viruses are related to humans especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, however, we are not that bothered about bacteria.

If you have to talk about bacteria, try to build a connection with humans. The audience should know why a certain topic should be listened to and it would happen if it affects them in any way.

Dreamscaping in Public Speaking

Dreamscaping is like landscaping. A public speaker can talk about a dream about a future which is better. The Ted head has referred to Martin Luther King’s speech which focused:

I have a dream.

Interestingly, the speech lasted for less than 18 minutes but changed the course of history.

Transcribe or Script

The book mentions Harvard Professor Dan Gilbert who says that for polishing public speaking skill, one should record the talk first and then transcribe it instead of scripting it first and then reading it. For a high-stakes talk, the importance of rehearsal is never overvalued.

Delivering The Speech

Chris Anderson has mentioned that if you are too nervous, you can reveal it to the audience. Showing the audience your vulnerability will earn you the confidence. For instance if you are facing anxiety due to public speaking, tell it to the audience, they will root for you.

A valuable tip for boosting confidence during the speech is that the speaker can mention powerful words on the notes for reading in between the speech. As an example, writing ‘this matters’ or ‘this is my moment and I will seize it’ at the corners of the page you are looking at can take your delivery to the next level.

A public speaker should be skillful enough to find ‘friendly’ faces in the audience. The speaker can look towards them during the speech. Some of the faces in the audience are ‘warm’ and looking at them can help you.

You can also highlight some words which should indicate whether you have to:

  • Smile
  • Take Pause
  • Change pitch/tone
  • Increase/decrease volume

If any point is powerful enough, the speaker should use silence as well to emphasize it.

Concluding The Speech

A good public speaker should end the speech with a powerful idea. Clich├ęs like ‘thank you to the audience’ or the team should be avoided.

Remember that reading is quick than listening to the same amount of words in the form of speech; however, the human overlay turns the information into inspiration and that’s why people prefer listening to the same words spoken by someone and this public speaking skill should be improved.

For those of who aspiring to become public speakers or love doing speeches, grab the book to go in depth about what Chris Anderson thinks is the right recipe.

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