Thoughts after Reading: Talk Like TED

Written by Carmine Gallo, Talk Like TED is an analysis of the best presentations in the now-famous TED conferences.

The author picked out the common denominators behind what made these presentations so compelling to listen to and categorised them into:

1) Passion

2) Story-telling skills

3) Being conversational with the audience

4) Presenting novelty

5) Jaw-dropping moments

6) Multi-sensory experiences

Having had these experiences, I must say that the author is right on the money with these.

On a personal note, I love a good story and thus I find good story-telling skills particularly compelling. I highly recommend the book. After all, we will each have at least one major presentation in our lives. Why not make it good enough to be featured on TED?

Revisiting the Passion Hypothesis

Having finished the book and having had more time to think about the Passion Hypothesis that I first mentioned on Jan 9, I thought I'd revisit the concept.

The author was firm on his stand on sticking with and acquiring a skill set and that, after the necessary effort and resources have been put in, it is this skill set that becomes the currency or "capital" with which you can acquire work that you enjoy.

He emphasises the importance of skill (the famous 10,000 hours to mastery), control (motivation and drive) and mission. It is the culmination of these three things that make a person excellent at what he/she does.

I certainly agree that it is much easier to be passionate about something we are good at than at something we are not. However, not everything we have spent a long time practising (effectively) elicits excitement even when we are good at it. Perhaps a personal example will come in useful:

In the course of being a teacher, I have, at innumerable points, needed to produce curriculum of various levels and on various topics. I know what is required to produce it and the steps needed to ensure that it is useful and understandable. Despite this, I find the process tedious and painful. There is little joy in it for me, however good at it I may be. I do it out of necessity and not out of desire.

On the other hand, I would gladly take a set of material and disseminate the information to a group of learners for no other reason than because it benefits them and brings me satisfaction.

Curriculum design, then, may not be my mission - something that I feel strongly about. Perhaps that is why I find it so difficult to motivate myself to get it done.

Perhaps the author is correct, though he does say somewhere in the beginning of his book that the advice "Follow your passion" is dangerous for MOST people.

Perhaps it is then safe for me to imagine that pre-skilled passion is an important factor for some people.

Perhaps it is neither truly one or the other but a spectrum upon which each of us finds a place and our lives go on from there, changing our positions on the spectrum as we acquire new skills or we discover new passions.

A Thought on Passion

Recently, I picked up a book that discusses the danger of what it calls the "Passion Hypothesis". It believes that the advice "Follow your passion", so rampant in recent years, can cause people to become less than they could be.

I'm not sure I entirely agree with the premise of the author. However, not having read the book in its entirety, I am not yet in a proper position to comment on it.

Suffice it to say that I believe that passion must be commensurate with skill. If you are passionate but lack the skill to make your passion appreciated or admired, you just have a hobby. Yet, if you are skilful without being passionate, you are not going to be very happy with what you are skilful at.

Those are my thoughts, however. The author believes that passions form when we get good at something - when we become skilful at it. Skill comes from long, useful practice.

Perhaps I will comment on this again when I have formed my own thoughts on the matter after I finish reading the book.