REVIEW — TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

TED book cover

Human-to-human communication is a true wonder of the world. We do it unconsciously every day. And it reaches its most intense form on the public stage.

Prologue, TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

Since its beginnings in 1984 as an annual Technology, Education, and Design conference, TED has evolved into a global phenomenon, inviting experts in all fields to present what TED calls “Ideas worth spreading.” As the organization has grown and expanded, these 18-minute (or shorter) talks have amassed a rabid following, especially online. As of 2015, says TED Curator, Chris Anderson, online TED Talks rack up more than 1 billion views each year.

As these TED Talks have become engrained in our culture, they’ve also come to represent the pinnacle of public speaking. So, naturally, speakers of all stripes — from executives to educators to public leaders — have begun clamoring to learn the secrets, begging for a how-to guide.


Chris Anderson’s book, released May 3 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is exactly that. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking is a guide for crafting and presenting a TED-quality speech in any environment. But, he’s careful to clarify, this is not a rule book. There is no one “right way” to give a speech, but there is a “best way” for each individual speaker. Instead, we should think of this a set of tools to enable us to deliver our most meaningful ideas, as authentically as possible.

Anderson’s tools are user-friendly and, as promised, widely varied. Each recommendation is brought to life with examples from the best TED Talks and practical advice from great TED speakers. In all, he references 48 talks, and you can watch all of them in the Official TED Talk Guide Playlist.

Wharton Professor, author, and TED veteran Adam Grant calls this “a brilliant, profound look at how to communicate,” and a must-read for anyone who “ever plan[s] to utter a sound.” And that’s Anderson’s goal, to empower speakers of all kinds to develop the confidence and passion it takes to effectively communicate our best ideas to our most important audiences.

To read more, or to purchase the book, visit TED’s website. For your own sneak peek at the lessons in Anderson’s book, watch his TED Talk: The Secret to Giving a Great TED Talk.