Business Books In-Brief: TED Talks – The official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

13th November 2018 by Radhika Sharma


Written by Chris Anderson, the Head of TED himself, this book details everything you need to know about giving an excellent and inspiring TED talk. Although it’s geared towards those looking to do a specific TED speaking event, I think it can be applied to presenting in general, as it details everything from talk tools, how to prepare and what to do when you get on stage. This can be applied to so many areas of everyday life and work, so there’s so much you can take away from the book.


When reading the book, I enjoyed the foundation chapters the most. These sections explain styles of talks and which to avoid, as well as talk tools including the fact that showing vulnerability to an audience can actually work in your favour. I found this topic one of the most interesting, as often fear of public speaking can lead to increased nervousness. However, Anderson lists a few examples of speakers that have shown the audience they are slightly nervous (such as Monica Lewinsky) and it actually made the audience warm to them even more. Overall, I think human emotion is incredibly powerful when it comes to public speaking and presenting.


There’s a lot I took away from this book, but here’s a breakdown of what the book taught me the most:

• Ignite some curiosity among the audience at the start without completely giving away what you’re going to say. So essentially tease the audience by letting them know what they’ll learn by the end of the talk, but don’t give too much away at the beginning so that there is still a degree of intrigue in the content

• Show some vulnerability and that you’re an approachable person. This was one of the most comforting aspects of the book – the fact that the Head of TED thinks it’s absolutely acceptable to show the audience you’re nervous

• Think of your talk as a journey that you want the audience to experience with you. By this, Anderson wants speakers to explain things to the audience so that they’ll be taken on the journey, rather than being spoken to using technical terms they’ve never heard of

• End with a call to action for the audience, rather than just ‘thank you for listening’. By making them want to go and look you up online or visit your website, there’s more chance of them connecting with you again in the future

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their communication skills in general. I found it very inspiring:

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