Like it or not, at some point in life you are probably going to have to give a presentation. If you work as a salesperson, pitching a group of people is part of your regular routine. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, you can improve your delivery by learning the secrets of the top TED talks.

These hugely popular presentations, given at the annual TED (short for Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences and other TED events, are the focus of keynote speaker, communications coach, and author Carmine Gallo’s new book.

For Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, Gallo studied hundreds of TED talks to see why they are being viewed online at a rate of of two million times a day. While his full findings are compiled in the book, Gallo shared with us six of the ways you can emulate the best of TED:

1. Tell a story

Science shows that telling a story helps sink your audience’s brain with yours. It’s one of the best ways to get their attention. As a salesperson, feel no pressure to concoct some grand tale. Use a case study or share a story about a customer who has benefited from your product.

2. Have a conversation

Practice your presentation or pitch until you get the point that you can deliver it as smoothly as you would a casual chat with a friend. This will allow you to internalize your content, so you can then focus on your body language, eye contact, and pace of speaking.

3. Make jaws drop

Inspire people by giving them a new way of looking at something. No need to release mosquitos into the audience like Bill Gates memorably did in his TED talk. But find a fresh way to package material or offer an amazing demo. This takes creativity and is not something you work on two minutes before your pitch.

4. Lighten up

You are not Jerry Seinfeld. Leave jokes to professional comedians. However, humor is an important part of a good presentation. Incorporate by offering funny observations or sharing a humorous quote or image. All you need is a smile from your audience, not belly laughs.

5. Keep it short

No TED presenter is allowed to speak for more than 18 minutes. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” was 17 minutes long. Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech was less than 15 minutes in length. If you need to fill 45 minutes, allow for a discussion or Q&A so you aren’t the only one talking.

6. Paint a picture

When information is delivered verbally, retention is 10%. Add a picture and it goes up to 65%. The moral of the story: Don’t fill PowerPoint slides with a bunch of bullet points. Add product photos or related images so they balance out any text and help your audience remember what you say.

Special for blog readers: Purchase “Talk Like TED” and email your receipt to In return, you will receive a "total immersion package" containing a companion workbook, a presentation checklist, and nine videos featuring each of the nine secrets in the book. 

Read practical advice on how to improve your sales by downloading this free e-book.