SciComm Lit Review: “Talk like TED: The 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds”

 

Reviewer: Jennifer Purrenhage, PhD

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What is the reviewer’s motive (expertise, curiosity, sharing lessons learned, etc.) and perspective (research scientist, educator, science communicator, etc.)? 

I am a scientist and a science educator. As a lecturer in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of New Hampshire, and the current Secretary of ESA’s Science Communication Section, I love reading about science communication, and about improving communication in general, both for selfish reasons (personal and professional development) and for my students. I teach the theory and practice of science communication to undergrad majors and non-majors in all my courses.

Who can benefit from reading and referencing this SciComm Lit (researchers, reporters, science communicators, educators, students, etc.)? 

Anyone whose objective is to communicate a story to a live audience (especially if you have watched TED talks and wished that’s how you reached your audience) can benefit from reading this book.

Gallo did not focus on science communication, but scientists are among his examples. The observations, insights, and tips included in this book will speak differently to each of us depending on our roles and our goals. I refer to this book when re-designing my lectures, mentoring students on preparing research presentations, teaching about science communication, and speaking to audiences of colleagues. Many students and colleagues have purchased their own copy of this book after borrowing mine or hearing my favorite tips.

When I first read this book, I was so inspired that I set out to transform every lecture in my Gen-Ed course into a TED talk.

Warning: do NOT attempt to make every presentation a TED talk!

I should have known. Gallo writes that many TED speakers reworked and practiced their 18-minute TED talks for a full year before the filmed event.

Marginal Notes (the good & the bad): favorite takeaways and productive points of disagreement.  

I have referenced my well-annotated copy many times since I first read Talk Like TED. This was the book that got me over my apprehension of writing in books. I had always kept a separate journal for notes on the books I was reading, but I couldn’t keep from writing up and down the margins of this book!

Many of my favorite takeaways were not novel concepts to me. Rather, they expanded on existing ideas, presented familiar information in a fresh context, or served as important reminders of the things we know but do not always do.

I imagine most of us already believe in the power of storytelling. In this book, you’ll read about how some of the best-received TED speakers used stories to power their talks. As I read, I remembered a flood of my own best stories that I’d never before shared in lectures. I started a list of my stories on one of the end pages, noting the lecture topics each story might be paired with. I quickly incorporated some into lectures. Sharing my stories has made presenting more enjoyable for me, and my students return years later to tell me what the stories meant to them.

Lessons from cognitive science. Most of my own presentation improvements are rooted in lessons from cognitive science. This book was instrumental in many of my upgrades! You’ll learn about “the alchemy of laughter” and “the power of icky,” transforming verbal information into visual information (and the Picture Superiority Effect), and more tools for enhancing audience engagement and retention. Also, I personally love meta-teaching, and there are some great tips in this book to help you explain the science behind these techniques to students and colleagues.

Warning 2: If you’re an educator and you’re not into meta-teaching yet, this book may start you on a slippery slope.

The importance of our presence as speakers. Gallo encourages us to “step outside our slides” and use props selectively. We are instructed to share the stage with multiple voices. We are reminded that connecting with our audience requires us to lighten up and be authentic, and that authenticity doesn’t happen naturally. (Yes, you read that right.)

I realize my review is effusive. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things about this book I didn’t like. There is one page in particular on which I crossed out an entire passage (and I might have sworn a little in my marginal note). But, those passages are few, and frankly, I find them just as instructive and helpful as the ones I marked with stars, hearts, and exclamation points. I am intentionally excluding here the passages I took issue with because you and I will undoubtedly find different issues with the ideas presented, and that’s a good thing. I believe that these points of disagreement with the ideas in this book can help us clarify what we understand, as individuals, about good communication.

Book Citation & Summary (from publisher):

Gallo, C. (2014). Talk like TED: The 9 public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Ideas are the currency of the twenty-first century. In order to succeed, you need to be able to sell your ideas persuasively. This ability is the single greatest skill that will help you accomplish your dreams. Many people have a fear of public speaking or are insecure about their ability to give a successful presentation. Now public speaking coach and bestselling author Carmine Gallo explores what makes a great presentation by examining the widely acclaimed TED Talks, which have redefined the elements of a successful presentation and become the gold standard for public speaking. TED—which stands for technology, entertainment, and design—brings together the world’s leading thinkers. These are the presentations that set the world on fire, and the techniques that top TED speakers use will make any presentation more dynamic, fire up any team, and give anyone the confidence to overcome their fear of public speaking.

In his book, Carmine Gallo has broken down hundreds of TED talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters, as well as the top researchers in the fields of psychology, communications, and neuroscience to reveal the nine secrets of all successful TED presentations. Gallo’s step-by-step method makes it possible for anyone to deliver a presentation that is engaging, persuasive, and memorable.

 

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Announcing new SciComm/Engagement Lit Review series!

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By Christopher Michel from San Francisco, USA (Ladakh) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Our SciComm/Engagement Lit Review series launches this week!

The Lit Review series features contributed reviews of books and other scicomm and engagement resources. Reviews provide unique content about lit that has direct or indirect relevance to the wide range of scicomm careers, approaches, and interests of Section members.

We seek SciComm/Engagement Lit Reviews (book review-style), and we welcome co-authored reviews. Continue reading Announcing new SciComm/Engagement Lit Review series!

#MySciComm: Jente Ottenburghs on adding humour to your science

This week, Dr. Jente Ottenburghs, a Belgian stand-up comic, biologist, and science writer responds to the #MySciComm questions!

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Jente Ottenburghs presenting/performing at ScienceBattle-Rotterdam (photo courtesy of Jente Ottenburghs)

Jente Ottenburghs is a biologist and freelance science writer. He obtained his PhD at the University of Wageningen (the Netherlands) where he studied the genetics of hybridizing geese. During his PhD, Jente discovered his passion for sharing science with a broad audience. Currently, he combines his scientific work (as a postdoc in Sweden) with popular science writing. Connect with Jente @jente_o, through e-mail or on his website.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!

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Okay, Jente…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

I can levitate birds. But nobody cares.

Continue reading #MySciComm: Jente Ottenburghs on adding humour to your science

Human Connections Through, With & For SciComm: #MySciComm 2017 in Review

Rebecca Johnson
#MySciComm contributors had a lot to say in 2017 about how scicomm and engagement can build human connections and are stronger and more effective because of it. (Photo: #MySciComm contributor Rebecca Johnson, at center, co-directs the Citizen Science program at California Academy of Sciences; photo by Alison Young.)

Retrospective by Bethann Garramon Merkle, series co-editor and Communication and Engagement Section chairperson

Certainly, there is much to be learned from #MySciComm contributors regarding how to incorporate scicomm into research and how to transition into a scicomm career. But we, the editors, think the humanity this series exposes is equally important.

#MySciComm shows us the people behind the science.

In looking back through the #MySciComm contributions from 2017, I noticed that our contributors take that human element a step further. Contributors are museum staffers, research scientists, journalists, professors, and more.

In their experience, science communication and public engagement work is dependent upon human connections. Continue reading Human Connections Through, With & For SciComm: #MySciComm 2017 in Review

#MySciComm: Jennifer Purrenhage on teaching undergrads as SciComm

This week, Dr. Jennifer Purrenhage, our SciComm Section Secretary, responds to the #MySciComm questions!

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Jennifer Purrenhage in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine (photo by Elizabeth Hooper)

Jennifer is a lecturer in wildlife ecology and environmental conservation at the University of New Hampshire, and the current Secretary of the Science Communication Section of ESA. She emphasizes the study and practice of science communication and engagement in all her courses, and puts her own communication skills to use both as an educator and through her work with local non-profit organizations. Jennifer is also the founder of an organic tea company, and lives in the New Hampshire seacoast with her partner Danny and their two dogs Keeley and Gordon. Connect with Jennifer via email or her website.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!

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Okay, Jennifer…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

I was raised in a family that values language, conversation, and an appreciation for nature.

Continue reading #MySciComm: Jennifer Purrenhage on teaching undergrads as SciComm

#MySciComm: William Chen on games, conferences, and transitioning to a scicomm career

This week, William Chen responds to the #MySciComm questions!

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William in Seattle, Washington (Photo courtesy of Tal Noznisky)

William is a science communicator interested in writing, storytelling, and interactives. After obtaining a Master’s degree in Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management at the University of Washington, he is transitioning into a career of science communication. This starts with an internship at The Nature Conservancy, where he engages diverse audiences with stories about protecting and restoring nature both for its own sake and for people. Connect with him @ChenWillMath and mathecology.wordpress.com.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!

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Okay, William…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

Playing off of my board game hobby.

Continue reading #MySciComm: William Chen on games, conferences, and transitioning to a scicomm career

#MySciComm: Lucy Frisch on switching gears from book publicist to science storytelling advocate

This week, Lucy Frisch responds to the #MySciComm questions!

We’re collaborating with Lucy to bring a science storytelling show to #ESA2017 next week! Details here. Join us if you’re in Portland!

 

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Photo courtesy of VGB Photography

 

Lucy is a Marketing Manager at Springer Nature in the Author & Partner Marketing and Services division. She curates author services through the lens of her publicity experience, designing initiatives to promote author empowerment, self-promotion and public engagement. Her focus is on implementing new ways to connect researchers and their work with the public, including the Springer Nature Storytellers program, a science communication initiative that harnesses the power of storytelling in an effort to truly humanize science. Follow her work with the Springer Nature Storytellers program at www.beforetheabstract.com and @b4theabstract.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!

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Okay, Lucy…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

Science and math have never exactly been my calling.

Continue reading #MySciComm: Lucy Frisch on switching gears from book publicist to science storytelling advocate

#MySciComm: Virginia Schutte on leaving academia and the U.S. and learning how to create scicomm career opportunities abroad

This week, Virginia Schutte responds to the #MySciComm questions!

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Virginia Schutte spent her first summer as an ecology PhD student in the Florida Keys, experimenting with mangrove sponges and sea stars like this one. (Photo by Virginia Schutte)

Virginia Schutte is the Science Media Officer at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (one of her first tasks is to redo that website). She works to make science useful and fun for everyone. She received an Ecology PhD in 2014 from the University of Georgia. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Germany with her family. She didn’t speak the language or have any contacts there, but over the following 2 years at her desk in her German apartment, she transitioned from researcher to communicator. Connect with her @vgwschutte, on her website, or get a behind-the-scenes look at her job on Instagram @myscicommlife.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!

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Okay, Virginia…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

I did and do believe in my science and its direct conservation implications.

Continue reading #MySciComm: Virginia Schutte on leaving academia and the U.S. and learning how to create scicomm career opportunities abroad

#MySciComm: Stacy Krueger-Hadfield on Seaweeds, Science, and SciComm

This week, Stacy Krueger-Hadfield responds to the #MySciComm questions!

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Stacy talking about seaweeds, and the importance of herbaria for studying evolutionary ecology, for Sandya Viswanathan’s film The Other 97% (Photo courtesy of Stacy Krueger-Hadfield)

Stacy Krueger-Hadfield is an evolutionary ecologist and science communicator based at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She holds a PhD in Diversité du Vivante (Biodiversity) from Université de Pierre et Marie Curie Sorbonne Universités and a PhD in Ecología (Ecology) from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at UAB and a regular contributor to the blog The Molecular Ecologist. She is developing #SciComm courses at UAB and building connections with other SciComm’rs around the world. Connect with Stacy online @quooddy and on her lab’s website.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!

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Okay, Stacy…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer.

Continue reading #MySciComm: Stacy Krueger-Hadfield on Seaweeds, Science, and SciComm

#MySciComm: Priya Shukla on sharing the stories of marginalized scientists

This week, Priya Shukla responds to the #MySciComm questions!

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Priya Shukla at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay, California (Photo by Gabriel Ng)

Priya Shukla is an ocean and climate scientist based at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory. She received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Management at UC Davis and earned her Master’s in Ecology from San Diego State University. Priya is currently a technician with UC Davis’ Bodega Ocean Acidification Research (BOAR) group, where she works on several projects to better understand and prepare for the effects of climate change on our . Priya uses science communication to bridge issues concerning social justice, rapid environmental change, and the scientific community. Connect with Priya @priyology and on her blog The Prosaic Mosaic.

The #MySciComm series features a host of SciComm professionals. We’re looking for more contributors, so please get in touch if you’d like to write a post!

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Okay, Priya…

1) How did you get into the kind of SciComm that you do?

The lens through which I communicate science has been heavily shaped by my father.

Continue reading #MySciComm: Priya Shukla on sharing the stories of marginalized scientists