Carmine Gallo, Talk like TED

Don’t read this book. It’s premise is promising: The “Nine Secrets” of public-speaking success gleaned from the best TED talks. The problem: The “deep science” is flawed and the advice is lame. The book is divided into three main sections – emotional, novel, memorable – and is subdivided into 3 main sub-topics (a chart showing this idea is illustrated in the book and copyrighted by Gallo Communications; I suspect, however, that the original copyright belongs to Aristotle). The author then states that he has spent over 150 hours watching and breaking down top TED videos; the obvious problem with this approach – selection bias and positivity effect, to name two – are not addressed. Instead, the author mentions at every turn his work with Fortune 500 companies and conversations with top CEOs and celebrities. The book is clearly a Carmine Gallo marketing instrument.

This aside, I might be tempted to say this book could be worth reading as an introduction to public speaking and holding presentations. With advice such as the following, however, you might be best off without it: “It is better to present an explanation in words and pictures than solely in words”. That this nugget of wisdom was presented by a professor from my alma mater only adds insult to injury. Furthermore, the book suggests that you merely need to make a talk emotional, novel, and memorable and it will be successful. A talk from our previous TEDx conference follows all the rules and achieved only a humble 1,100 hits. Other factors might be present here – celebrity, rehearsal time, a professional graphics company, distribution to an English-speaking audience with the same values – which make the best TED talks so popular. None of these are mentioned.

As an homage to TED, this book is passable. For advice on giving great TED talks, read Chris Anderson instead.