Quills & Queues: Tips on how TED Talks can help you

It seems like nobody is giving speeches or presentations anymore.

Instead, everyone who has something to say in front of an audience is now giving a "TED Talk."

But what exactly is a TED Talk?

Author and communications coach Carmine Gallo explains the term and how anyone can give a TED-worthy speech in his new book "Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds."

Held in 1984, the first TED conference featured lectures on technology, education and design, thus the TED acronym. The conferences grew in popularity, turning into multi-day events around the globe, Gallo explains.

The movement exploded after TED.com was born in 2006, allowing people to watch videos of interesting, thought-provoking and inspiring speeches — all delivered in TED's signature 18-minute time frame. TED videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times, Gallo writes.

TED.com has a news headline-style format with intriguing speech titles like "This gel can make you stop bleeding instantly," "How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings," "Humble plants that hide surprising secrets" and "What I learned from spending 31 days underwater."

To help viewers sift through the plethora of titles, talks are organized in categories like Newest Releases, Most Viewed and Trending Now. There are also talks grouped together into addictive playlists such as "Math talks to blow your mind," "Speed up your commute with 7 TED Talks" and "How does my brain work?"

Gallo's book provides ample examples of TED talks worth watching.

In the "The Habits of Happiness," Matthieu Ricard — who lives in a monastery in Kathmandu — told a TED audience the secret of happiness is the cultivation of wisdom and compassion. He should know. Measurements of his brain waves showed massive activity in the area of his brain associated with positive feelings.

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor surprised her audience when she recalled her reaction when she first realized she was having a stroke. Taylor thought, "Wow! This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?"

While extroverts are valued in American culture, TED speaker Susan Cain extolled the virtues of introverts. Her talk has been viewed more than 4 million times and her book, "Quiet," is a bestseller.

For people who have to give presentations at work, make sales pitches, or otherwise tell engaging stories that capture an audience, Gallo gives advice for achieving success.

Stick to the 18-minute time frame since that's about how long people can pay attention anyway, he writes.

Use facts and figures, but remember audiences need to hear passion and emotion in order to stay interested. Remember to tell a story, showing how the topic relates to your life and the lives of the audience, Gallo advises.

For people who want to learn more public speaking tips, "Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds" is available in the new books section of the Ashland Public Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd., or through local bookstores.

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@mailtribune.com or 541-776-4486.

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