Lessons Learned: Public Speaking


"Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.”

Robert Ballard, discoverer of Titanic (1985)


Hosted by some of the brightest innovators and professionals around the world, today’s TED talks have become the gold standard in public speaking. It’s no surprise then that TED (which stands for technology, entertainment, and design) and TED-style events are exploding everywhere.

Rather than being envious of these individuals’ awesome presentation skills (it’s hard not to be - we know), what can we learn from them to make ourselves better, more engaging public speakers?

We’ve pulled the top three lessons by former news anchor and keynote speaker Carmine Gallo in his article 9 Public-Speaking Lessons From The World's Greatest TED Talks. Keep these in mind as you plan your next presentation!

  • First, tell a story. The human brain loves the storytelling style. We’ve been telling stories for generations, long before the invention of writing. Many anthropologists say that stories are central to human existence, serving as recognizable patterns in which we find meaning. So instead of bombarding your audience with statistics and figures, make your presentation more personal.

  • Second, teach your audience something they didn’t already know. According to research, there is a region of our midbrain, called the substantia nigra/ventral segmental area (SN/VTA), that can only be activated with absolutely novel stimuli. In layman’s terms, we are hardwired to love novelty.

  • Third, know your purpose, and tap into the right emotions. One way to grab your audience’s attention is by delivering jaw-dropping moments that trigger certain emotions. As Gallo mentions, speakers should try to elicit joy, fear, shock, or surprise in order to have a stronger effect on the listener - it’ll help them remember your presentation long after it’s over.

When asked what they thought was the most important lesson regarding public speaking, a few team members at credPR shared their insights:

  1. “You never know who is going to be in the audience!” - Caitlin

  2. “Even if you’re not confident, pretend that you are. Fake it till you make it!” - Stephanie B.

  3. “Push each other. Execs and moderators get nervous when discussing controversial issues and lean on “safe topics.” It’s important to push each other out of their comfort zone.” - Laura

  4. “Everyone has a good story to tell. The key is to find the right audience!” - Leah


What do you think is the most important thing to know about public speaking? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Need help finding your audience? That’s our specialty! 

Get in touch with us at hello@credpr.com.