Present It Like TED

When you watch a TED Talks video, you might learn how to tie your shoes more efficiently. You could also learn whether or not humans can prevent the end of the world. In other words, the group’s motto of “ideas worth spreading,” is a pretty broad one. But regardless of your viewing choice, you tend to come out of it at least a little bit smarter, which is something you can’t often claim after emerging from the typical YouTube binge.

A sampling of topics from

A sampling of topics from

That’s why I was so eager to pick up Carmine Gallo’s book, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds (St. Martin’s Press, 2014). A public-speaking coach himself, Gallo watched some of the most popular TED Talks from over the years and interviewed the people who gave them, ranging from diplomats to supermodels to neuroanatomists. He came out of the experience with tips for ordinary folks to incorporate into their speaking duties. I thought I might extract a few that could help you bring your next listing presentation to a viral level.

  • Start strong. Whatever your plan, make sure your first action is not opening up your presentation software to the first slide. Connect with your audience before you begin. If you start off with what Gallo calls an “emotionally-charged event,” your presentation has a far greater chance of being remembered.
  • Demonstrate your passion. Your task here is not to simply ask for the chance to sell these peoples’ home. You need to show how much you love doing what you do, and how passionate you are about their property. After all, they probably bought it because they loved it (or something about it, at least!). Show that you understand their connection to the place, and demonstrate that you are ready to pass your passion off to the perfect buyer.
  • Tell your story. Yeah, it’s not all about you. But here Gallo references some pretty powerful evidence from a variety of behavioral and biological studies showing that personal stories can cause listeners to form a sort of “mind-meld” with the speaker, causing deeper and more meaningful connections than other kinds of communication can.
  • Gesture with purpose. It’s important to move when you speak, but you should always connect your words and your body language or you’ll risk having your movements distract from what you’re saying. Gallo suggests the best way to identify useless mannerisms and replace them with purposeful movements is to tape yourself giving a presentation and watch it back, noting all your movements and making an effort to change them where they’re not connecting directly with your words.
  • Be innovative. Gallo notes that humans love to be taught new things, and encourages readers to offer “a fresh and novel way to solve an old problem.” Find out what the issue is for your audience, and then figure out how to solve it in a way they haven’t heard from other real estate professionals.

Now, I’ve just scratched the surface here; Talk Like TED has far more tips in it for successful presentation than just these. And while I do think Gallo’s book is helpful to the average real estate salesperson, his thoughtful, well-researched words are indispensable to someone looking to get into training or public speaking, or for the broker hoping to connect more deeply with her team.

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]

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  1. Thanks for the summary and the book recommendation. Looks like a good one.