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Want to learn how to give a great talk? Chris Anderson is writing the official TED guide to public speaking

In the book, "Talk This Way! The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking," our curator Chris Anderson will gives insights on what makes a talk great. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In the upcoming book “Talk This Way! The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” our curator Chris Anderson will give insights on what makes a talk great. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Over and over, you keep asking us: What’s the best way to give a TED Talk? It’s not just that you’re interested in sharing your ideas at a TED or local TEDx event. Short presentations have become a bread-and-butter staple at schools and offices around the world, and you want more guidance on how to give them well.

And so, our curator Chris Anderson is writing a book to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in spring 2016. Titled Talk This Way! The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, it will be packed with insights on what makes talks work.

“There was no one spark for writing this book—it’s more like a long-smoldering fire that’s now ready to break out,” he told the TED Blog. “A decade ago, speaker prep at TED was simple: We’d agree on a basic talk idea, send the speaker a plaque of ‘the TED Commandments’ and wait to see what they showed up with. In recent years we’ve been stepping up our pre-conference engagement with speakers, encouraging them to carry out early rehearsals, working with some of them on their scripts. We’ve found the process to be incredibly valuable. We’ve seen speakers who start out nervous and/or with unfocused ideas come through to give truly compelling talks.”

One of the main points: there simply is no one-size-fits-all approach. 

“We should be clear on one thing. There is no single formula to giving a TED Talk. Indeed, the most annoying talks of all are those that seem to think there is,” he says. “But at the same time, there’s a ton of important advice to offer, including a key metaphor that many speakers find helpful. I’ll offer all the guidance I can, but much of it is in helping speakers to find the type of talk that’s right for them. And by the way, the book isn’t just for TED Talks. It’s meant to be helpful for any form of public speaking or presentation.”

Another key goal for the book: highlighting the amazing power of direct human-to-human communication, recorded on video, in the Internet age.

While we hope that this book will be helpful to you, we also see it as another way to foster TED’s mission of sharing ideas for free to the world. All proceeds from the book — from the advance to sales — will be donated to TED’s nonprofit parent company, and will support the free sharing of TED Talks and other free programs around the world.

The book will be available internationally. So far, rights have been negotiated in Canada, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK, and deals are in progress in France, Poland and Portugal.

Have specific questions about giving a talk that you’d like answered in the book? Email blog@ted.com and we’ll pass them on to Chris. Who is busily typing away on this book as we speak.

“It’s fun!” he tells us. “I mean, not all the time — I can definitely get hit with intense writer’s block. But when it flows, it’s really exciting. There’s so much great material to tap into. Examples from hundreds of different TED Talks, and the direct advice from about 30 favorite speakers who have been generous enough to share their wisdom. If all I do is channel them, all will be well.”