相当平淡，是吧？《像TED那样演讲：全球顶级人才九大演讲秘诀》(Talk Like TED: 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of The World's Best Minds)一书以流畅的文笔审视了为什么TED演讲如此生动，如此引人入胜。出版方有意安排在今年3月份发行此书，以庆贺如今已成为经典的TED大会成立30周年。这部著作借鉴当代脑科学解释了什么样的演讲能够说服听众、鼓舞听众，什么样的演讲无法产生这种效果。
最吸引人的TED演讲为我们提供了一个补救策略：如果你必须使用幻灯片，务必记得要大量运用图像资源。这种做法同样有科学依据，它就是研究人员所称的“图优效应”(Picture Superiority Effect)：听到或读到一组事实三天后，大多数人会记得大约10%的信息。而添加一张照片或图片后，记忆率将跃升至65%。
华盛顿大学医学院(University of Washington School of Medicine)分子生物学家约翰•梅迪纳主持的研究发现，几天后，人们能够回想起超过2,500张图片，准确率至少达到90%；一年后的准确率依然保持在63%左右。
Think about the last time you heard someone give a speech, or any formal presentation. Maybe it was so long that you were either overwhelmed with data, or you just tuned the speaker out. If PowerPoint was involved, each slide was probably loaded with at least 40 words or figures, and odds are that you don't remember more than a tiny bit of what they were supposed to show.
Pretty uninspiring, huh? Talk Like TED: 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of The World's Best Mindsexamines why in prose that's as lively and appealing as, well, a TED talk. Timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary in March of those now-legendary TED conferences, the book draws on current brain science to explain what wins over, and fires up, an audience -- and what doesn't. Author Carmine Gallo also studied more than 500 of the most popular TED speeches (there have been about 1,500 so far) and interviewed scores of the people who gave them.
Much of what he found out is surprising. Consider, for instance, the fact that each TED talk is limited to 18 minutes. That might sound too short to convey much. Yet TED curator Chris Anderson imposed the time limit, he told Gallo, because it's "long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people's attention ... By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to think about what they really want to say." It's also the perfect length if you want your message to go viral, Anderson says.
Recent neuroscience shows why the time limit works so well: People listening to a presentation are storing data for retrieval in the future, and too much information leads to "cognitive overload," which gives rise to elevated levels of anxiety -- meaning that, if you go on and on, your audience will start to resist you. Even worse, they won't recall a single point you were trying to make.
"Albert Einstein once said, 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough,'" Gallo writes, adding that the physicist would have applauded astronomer David Christian who, at TED in 2011, narrated the complete history of the universe -- and Earth's place in it -- in 17 minutes and 40 seconds.
Gallo offers some tips on how to boil a complex presentation down to 18 minutes or so, including what he calls the "rule of three," or condensing a plethora of ideas into three main points, as many top TED talkers do. He also notes that, even if a speech just can't be squeezed down that far, the effort alone is bound to improve it: "Your presentation will be far more creative and impactful simply by going through the exercise."
Then there's PowerPoint. "TED represents the end of PowerPoint as we know it," writes Gallo. He hastens to add that there's nothing wrong with PowerPoint as a tool, but that most speakers unwittingly make it work against them by cluttering up their slides with way too many words (40, on average) and numbers.
The remedy for that, based on the most riveting TED talks: If you must use slides, fill them with a lot more images. Once again, research backs this up, with something academics call the Picture Superiority Effect: Three days after hearing or reading a set of facts, most people will remember about 10% of the information. Add a photo or a drawing, and recall jumps to 65%.
One study, by molecular biologist John Medina at the University of Washington School of Medicine, found that not only could people recall more than 2,500 pictures with at least 90% accuracy several days later, but accuracy a whole year afterward was still at about 63%.
That result "demolishes" print and speech, both of which were tested on the same group of subjects, Medina's study indicated, which is something worth bearing in mind for anybody hoping that his or her ideas will be remembered.