Book Category: Presentations,

How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World’s Most Inspiring Presentations, revised and expanded new edition, with a foreword by Richard St. John and an afterword by Simon Sinek (book summary)

Author: Jeremey Donovan
Life Changing Principles
Quality of Writing
Overall Value
pros: Great takeaways
cons: Heavy focus on delivery
overall rating


Jeremy Donovan has been a presentation/public speaking expert for 10 years, and he uses this experience to breakdown some of the best (and biggest) TED talks for practical advice. His approach is uniquely analytical, because he tackles this task with the idea that there are definitely formulas involved the “perfect” speech. For example, for every premise introduced, a great speaker will provide a proof. This book covers the staples: content preparation, a hefty portion of delivery advice, and even some design (although, he tends to recommend no slides at all).


  • The most important piece of content to get right is your opening; most people won’t pay attention past a very small window of time.
  • TED speakers aren’t just talking about something that has value to them: they are proving it, or adding a “why.”
  • All great TED talks include some element of storytelling: ALL OF THEM.  


  • Try to utilize a new kind of problem/solution content pitch, where one view is explained, then an opposite view is explained, and then the more “enlightened” answer is revealed (see quote below).
  • Always back up your content “premises” with “proofs” at some point in your presentations.
  • “Feedback rich” environments create better delivery: how can you build one for yourself in the event of your upcoming genius TED talk?


If you have transformed even one life for the better, including your own, then you have the seed of an idea worth spreading.

Choose your persona based on whether your primary objective is to educate, entertain, or inspire.

Frame your idea worth spreading as an action-outcome response to a question worth asking.

Amazing things happen when you confine your speaking to a topic you are passionate about. Your nerves subside. You automatically build persuasive arguments. Stories roll off your tongue. And your delivery becomes an afterthought.

Determine whether you will deliver a story-driven or premise-driven narrative.

Alternatives: Share the viewpoint of adherents on one side of an issue. Share the viewpoint that supports the other side. Share your more enlightened view.

Remember that the first minute or two, perhaps even the first 10 or 20 seconds of your speech, is the peak of your audience’s engagement level.

Explicitly summarize your idea worth spreading in your conclusion.

The next time you speak, ask your audience to imagine at last twice.

You should practice a minimum of three times in a safe, feedback-rich environment.