Talk Like TED

June 24, 2016.
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Carmine Gallo@Google Talks:
Talk Like TED

Carmine Gallo. Executive speaking and communications coach. Author of 8 books, including the best-selling Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs which has been translated into 14 languages.

The talk by Carmine Gallo featured here was given at the Google headquarters in March 2014 and focused on his book, Talk Like TED—which had just been published the month before. A second edition was released last year. As of 2016, the book remained the No.2 best-selling book on Amazon in the Public Speaking category.

Google HQ, Mountain View, California, 2014

Since starting to provide videos of TED talks online in 2006, the TED conference series has become a de facto benchmark for public speaking and presentations. In this highly recommended book Carmine Gallo, based on analyzing hundreds of TED talks, has identified 9 best practices for the most successful TED presentations. The book also includes interviews with selected TED speakers as well as references to research by psychologists and communication experts.

Another Carmine Gallo book you may want to check out, if you have not already read it, is, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs (2009). In addition to his outstanding achievements as an innovator and business creator, disrupting and transforming several industries during his career—Jobs also became famous and highly admired for his powerful and engaging presentations, especially at the annual Apple World Conferences where he would reveal Apple’s latest products.

160624 C Gallo The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Carmine Gallo’s most recent book is, The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends—recently published (February 2016). You can find more information about Carmine Gallo on his Web site:

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Show and Tell

June 17, 2016.
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Dan Roam@Google Talks:
“Show & Tell”:
How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations

Dan Roam, President and Founder of Digital Roam Inc., a management consulting firm using visual thinking to solve complex problems. Author of two international best sellers and founder of the Napkin Academy. In his past career he was a Client Partner at Razorfish, and VP Creative Strategy at; among other positions.

Since the publication of his first book, The Back of the Napkin in 2007, Dan Roam has established himself as one of the leading experts on visual thinking to solve problems, communicate better and be more persuasive. His past and present clients include Microsoft, Google, Intel, Wal-Mart, Kraft and others.

He has been invited to speak at Google Talks three times—most recently in 2014, after the publication of his third book, Show & Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations (2014)—which is the talk featured here.

Google HQ, Mountain View, California, 2014

The main focus of this book is on how you can use stories and pictures to create and deliver more effective, even extraordinary, presentations.

It is very much a ‘hands-on’ book with extensive practical advice on how to improve your presentations using visual communication.

160617 D Roam Show & Tell

Following the publication of his first book, The Back of a Napkin, Roam established the Napkin Academy—providing online courses and videos teaching how to use pictures to clarify complexity, tell stories and be more persuasive.

As you would expect, his own talk at the Google headquarters, amply demonstrates in practice the visual principles and techniques featured in his books.

You can also find a lot of interesting information on effective use of visuals on Dan Roam’s Web site:

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

The Case for Optimism on Climate Change

June 10, 2016.
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Al Gore:
The Case for Optimism on Climate Change

Al Gore, Co-founder and Chair of Generation Investment Management. Senior Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and a member of the Board of Apple Inc. Chair and Founder of The Climate Reality Project, a non-profit organization devoted to solving the Climate Crisis—with whom he now spends most of his time.

Since establishing himself as a leading advocate in the fight against global warming in the early part of the millennium, former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore has also become a benchmark presenter on the global presentation and conference circuit.

His presentation skills have been honed by numerous presentation appearances on TED and other conference platforms in the course of his global climate work—trying to persuade politicians and people at large of the urgent need to combat global warming and take action now.

In his most recent TED appearance, earlier this year, at TED Vancouver, he exhibits many of the great presentations skills that have made him such an engaging and persuasive presenter.

TED Vancouver   February 2016

Like other great presenters, Gore’s presentations can easily come off as being so engaging and well delivered—that you may fail to notice the specific skills and techniques he is using to make the presentations as captivating and persuasive as they are.

Key features of Al Gore’s TED talk to observe:
• His choice and use of well-designed slides and other visuals to illustrate his points with impact and persuasion.
• A clear presentation structure; in this talk centered around 3 powerful questions.
Dynamic delivery—note his posture, gestures, stage movement, interaction with slides, eye contact, voice.

A regular feature of Al Gore’s presentations is excellent use of humour, which he uses to great effect in the opening of this TED presentation.

Al Gore is the author of a number of best-sellers— including An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and his most recent book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change (2013).

160610 A Gore An Inconvenient Truth

He has featured as a TED speaker a number of times over the years—and his first TED talk was in fact one of the first 6 TED talks released on when the site was established in 2006.

If you are looking for good tips on how to improve your own presentations, you are well advised to invest some time and effort into studying this and other TED talks by Al Gore.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

How Do You Achieve Your Goals ?

June 3, 2016.
How Do You Achieve Your Goals?
Goal-Setting, Motivation & Performance

Although most executives realize the importance of setting goals, many do not realize the degree of importance of individual and team performance — or the importance of HOW you set and manage the goals for the final outcome.

The foundation for what we know today about the connection between goals, motivation and performance was laid by Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham who conducted extensive research over more than two decades, since the late 1960s—and summarized and published the results in their landmark work ‘A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance’ (1990).

This was subsequently followed by a number of other related studies, such as those by Seijits and Latham (2005) and Herzberg (2009).

The key findings by Locke and Latham included:
• Discovered 5 key principles of goal setting
• The more difficult and specific a goal is, the higher the motivation and the harder people tend to work for it
• 90 % of the time, specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than easy ‘do-your-best’ goals
• Goal setting is important for the performance of individuals as well as organizations
Learning goals can lead to better performance than performance-only goals in many situations—for example for skill development, discovering out-of-the-box ideas or action plans to make companies more competitive.

The importance of goal setting for motivation and ultimately, therefore, performance has been confirmed in a number of related studies by Vroom (1994), Bandura (1986), and others.

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Dr. Edwin Locke

The 5 Principles of Goal Setting that emerged from the research by Locke and Latham are:

1. Clarity. Goals must be clear and specific.

2. Challenge. Goals must be challenging—but not too challenging; i.e. they must be realistic and achievable.

3. Commitment. Commit to your goal, for example, by visualizing the benefit of goal achievement—or, in a team, get the team to commit and buy into the goal by involving the team in the goal setting.

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Dr. Gary Latham

4. Feedback. Get feedback on your progress, for motivation and to improve and adjust your efforts if necessary. If you are working on achieving a goal by yourself, you can provide your own feedback by measuring your progress and evaluating your own efforts as you progress.

5. Complexity. Manage the complexity of your goals. Don’t make your task too complex, as it could then become overwhelming. Break large complex goals into sub goals.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Ten Ways to Improve Your Presentations

May 27, 2016.
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Garr Reynolds:
10 Ways to Improve Your Presentations –
Why Storytelling Matters

Garr Reynolds, writer, designer and musician—and the author of ‘Presentation Zen’ (2013, 2nd ed.), a best-seller on presentation design and delivery.  He is also a former corporate trainer at Sumitomo Electric and current Director of Design Matters Japan, in Osaka.

In his TEDxKyoto talk featured here, Reynolds provides 10 tips for how you can improve your presentations and highlights why storytelling matters—to bring out your message, make it more memorable and have greater impact.

TEDxKyoto 2014

His book Presentation Zen was first published in 2011, with a new and updated 2nd edition released in 2013.  Although the book covers both presentation design and delivery, it is particularly focused on design—how to best design your presentation slides and visuals for maximum clarity and impact.

160527 G Reynolds Presentation Zen

The importance of design to influence and persuade your audience is best summed up by Guy Kawasaki, Co-Founder of and former Chief Evangelist for Apple in his recommendation of ‘Presentation Zen’:

“To change the world, you need to pitch. To pitch, you need to design. To design, you need this book.”

So if you are not familiar with the book already, it’s well worth checking out—and highly recommended to watch Reynolds’ TED talk.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea

May 20, 2016.
How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea 

Ever presented what you thought was a brilliant idea, great business plan or creative concept to new customers, partners, investors —but had your proposal rejected?

Then you may be interested in the insights of a study by Kimberly Elsbach, Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Associate Dean at University of California, Davis, originally published in the Harvard Business Review.

“Coming up with creative ideas is easy; selling them to strangers is hard”, says Elsbach.

She conducted a study of the U.S. film and television industry over 6 years, examining how people with film and movie ideas presented to the media companies and their success rate—and later expanded the study to cover similar situations in other business settings.

One of the overall findings of the study confirmed what has also been revealed by various other research—that HOW you present can be as important, and potentially even more important, as WHAT you present. In fact, how you present and the impression you give can easily overshadow the perceived merits of your idea or proposal.

This is to a large extent due to most people’s tendency to quickly judge and prejudge other people—especially when people meet for the first time. Research by Stanford Professor Ambady, and others, showed that such ‘thin slice judgements’, take place within seconds of meeting or even just upon seeing the other person (refer to the article published on this website on December 4, 2015).

Kimberly Elsbach found that people in her study who successfully pitched their ideas to executive decision makers could be categorized as 3 types of people or ‘person prototypes’—’showrunners’, ‘artists’ and ‘neophytes’ (a person new to a subject or activity). She also found that the idea pitchers tended to be more successful if they managed to involve the person(s) to whom they presented—or at least make them feel they were involved in the development of the idea or proposal.

The concept of ‘person prototypes’ was developed by Stanford psychologists Nancy Kantor and Walter Mischel. Their research demonstrated that when we meet new people we tend to try to categorize them by matching them during the first moments of interaction with other people we know or have met.

The 3 categories that Elsbach identified in her study can be described as follows:

Showrunners tend to display charisma and wit, but also demonstrate enough technical know-how to persuade the decision makers that the idea is feasible and can be executed.

Artists display great passion and enthusiasm about their ideas, but can be shy or even socially awkward. However, they are good at making their audience imagine and ‘see’ the attractions of what they are proposing—supported by their passion, and they are perceived as the most creative of the three types.

Neophytes tend to be or act as if they were inexperienced and naive, and are the opposite of showrunners. Their lack of experience is often perceived as freshness of thought by the decision makers evaluating their ideas—and they present themselves as eager learners, again a perceived positive trait for the decision makers. Many entrepreneurs fall into this category.

Elsbach’s study goes into further details on how the above characteristics affect and can be used to successfully pitch your ideas and proposals—but the bottom line for presenters is that by being aware of people’s instant stereotyping process and which type of presenter you are—and by engaging your audience to ‘collaborate’ on your idea or proposal—you have a much higher chance of being successful.

“By successfully projecting yourself as one of these three creative types and getting the person you present to as a creative collaborator, you can improve your chances of selling an idea”, as Elsbach puts in her report.

Source: Harvard Business Review No.9, 2003.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Story Behind Death

May 13, 2016.
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Piotr Grzywacz:
Story Behind Death – or
What will your life story be?

Piotr Grzywacz is a Tokyo-based entrepreneur and leadership development expert. CEO & Founder of Pronoia Group. In his past career he was Head of Learning Strategy at Google in Tokyo from 2011-2015, and prior to that was Vice President of Learning & Development at Morgan Stanley Japan for five years.

How often do you use stories in your talks or presentations?—Perhaps not often enough? If you are looking for insights and inspiration on how to use stories—do take a look at this great TED talk.

This is a very powerful and moving TED talk—well worth watching, both for its leadership and life message and its excellent presentation delivery. It is a great example of the power of stories—to engage your audience, illustrate your message and make it highly memorable.

TEDxHong Kong August 2015

Here are some highlights of Grzywacz’s delivery skills as a presenter:

Opening. Note how he opens with an intriguing statement—making us curious about the content of his talk. He immediately moves on to engage his audience, using breathing exercises and then asking them to close their eyes and imagine an unusual situation which I will not reveal here—to avoid spoiling your experience of watching his talk.

Stories. His talk is focused around two captivating stories, with surprising twists—which we discover some way into his presentation—and very well told. They both engage, illustrate his main message and help make the message highly memorable.

Movement & Posture. His straight, balanced posture conveys trust and confidence. And note his use of movement—moving to a different position when he continues to the next story or part of his talk. He avoids making the mistake of purposeless motion commonly made by many presenters—instead turning his head, scanning and making eye contact with the audience across the room.

Voice. For many presenters using your voice in the best and most effective way can be a challenge. If you struggle with this you can learn much by taking note of how Grzywacz very effectively uses the ‘3 Ps of Voice’—Pitch, Pace & Pause.

Gestures. He also makes active but measured use of hand gestures—an important tool when you speak.  As you may remember from a study of TED speakers featured in our November 29, 2015, newsletter, active use of hand gestures is highly important for how your audience perceives your talk or presentation.  The TED speaker study showed a direct correlation between the number of views a TED talk gets and the number of hand gestures.

It is also worth studying how Grzywacz has crafted the structure of his talk—from the opening statement, early audience engagement, story lead-in to his main message—then a surprising turn of events, as he makes call-backs to his two stories which powerfully emphasize his main message.  He briefly returns to his early introduction audience exercises—before ending with a restatement of his main message and call to action.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Five Ways to Listen Better

May 6, 2016.
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Julian Treasure:
5 Ways to Listen Better

Julian Treasure is a frequent TED speaker—and one of the most popular.  His 5 recorded TED talks on sound and communication have attracted around 15 million views.

A sound and communication expert, he is also a successful entrepreneur—having founded and developed one of the UK’s leading magazine publishers, TPD Group, sold in 2003. In addition, he is a life-long musician, author—and Founder and Chairman of The Sound Agency, advising businesses on how to use sound.

Although we usually focus on how to present and speak publicly in the most effective manner—your ability to listen to other people, including your presentation audience, is in fact also highly important for how well you can present, speak and persuade. And that is the main topic of this TED talk by Julian Treasure.

TED 2011  3.8M views on

His book Sound Business is now in its second edition and has also been translated into Japanese (2011). He has been widely featured in world media on topics about sound and communication, including TIME Magazine, The Economist, and The Times, among others—and appeared on radio and TV in the US, UK, Australia and elsewhere.

160506 J Treasure Sound Business

Subjects he feels particularly passionate about include how to master powerful speaking, how to improve your conscious listening, and how to design environments for health, productivity and better relationships—topics also covered in his TED talks.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Presentation Openings

April 29, 2016.
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Presentation Openings
3 Ways to Open with Impact

How do you open your presentations? Like most presenters—i.e. in a very conventional way?  Such as ‘Good morning, I am very pleased to be here today and thank you for attending even though it is raining, etc…..’.

If you do, you are likely to see the audience react accordingly, as this is exactly the kind of opening they are used to hearing from a majority of speakers. They may then have another look at their Facebook page, or check E-mails on their smart phones, or chat softly to their friend seated next to them—basically do anything but pay attention to you.

And remember—you only get one chance to make a good first impression. So don’t miss the opportunity to open with a ‘bang’—something surprising or at least different from most presentation openings.  “Avoid ‘pleasant unpleasantries’ “—as Craig Valentine, the founder of World Class Speaking, puts it.

A powerful opening will catch the attention of your audience and engage them from the very beginning.  You are then off to a good start—and it will be easier to build on this and keep the interest of the audience for the remainder of the presentation.

There are a number of ways to create powerful presentation openings—but 3 effective ways are to open with either (1) a powerful, attention-catching statement; (2) a question; or (3) a story.

Here are some examples of openings, by selected TED speakers, using these three ways.

Opening with a Powerful Statement:

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“Sadly, within the next 18 minutes—while I do my talk—4 Americans who are currently alive, will be dead because of the food they eat.”

Jamie Oliver, TED 2010, from his talk on obesity. Click here to see the full presentation.

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“What you are doing right now, at this very moment—is killing you.”

Nilofer Merchant, TED 2013, referring to the fact that Americans, on average, sit for 9.3 hours per day, and the risks of such a sedentary lifestyle. Click here to see the full presentation.

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“I need to make a confession here, from the outset. A little over 20 years ago I did something that I regret….”

Dan Pink, TED 2009, from his talk on motivation—using intriguing statements, which make us curious and wanting to hear more. Click here to see the full presentation.

Opening with a Question:

160205 S Sinek image

“How do you explain when things don’t go as assumed? How do you explain when others are able to achieve something that seems to defy all the assumptions? For example, why is Apple so innovative? Year after year after year?”

Simon Sinek, TED 2009, opens with three questions. Click here to see the full presentation.

140508 K Robinson TED 2

“Good morning, how are you?— It’s been great, hasn’t it?
I’ve been blown away by the whole thing—in fact, I’m leaving…”

Ken Robinson, TED 2006, who opens with two questions, then a humorous statement. Click here to see the full presentation.

Opening with a Story:

Joi Ito, Head of MIT Media Lab

Joi Ito, Head of MIT Media Lab

“On March 10, 2011, I was in Cambridge at the MIT Media Lab, meeting with faculty, students and staff, and we were trying to figure out whether I should be the next director.

That night, at midnight, a magnitude 9 earthquake hit off of the Pacific coast of Japan. My wife and family were in Japan, and as the news started to come in, I was panicking.”

Joi Ito, Head of MIT Media Labs; TED 2014, opens with a story.  Note how he makes the story more interesting and captivating by setting the scene in some detail—giving date, time, location and who was present. Click here to see the full presentation.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Innovating to Zero!

April 22, 2016.
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Bill Gates:
Innovating to Zero!

Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, philanthropist, investor and one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, needs no further introduction.

What may be less well known, however, is that he has also given a number of talks as a TED speaker. And although not as famous as a presenter as his late friend and business rival, Steve Jobs—Bill Gates is nevertheless an excellent speaker.

Two good examples of his TED talks are featured here.  Among good speaker features to note are his use of well designed and appropriately used slides, voice dynamics, gestures and posture.

Innovating to Zero!

TED 2010 3.6M views on

In the talk below he also uses a prop as his opening, which is an underutilized presentation tool—but the more effective for that reason.

The Next Outbreak? We’re not Ready.

TED 2015  2M views on

And last, but not least, he exhibits a strong passion for his topics—a key feature of highly engaging presenters. These talks on important and interesting topics are also well worth studying to improve your own presentations.

Trond Varlid

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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.