So, I’m tackling my summer reading list and I just finished Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. The book examines nine different public speaking principles that were derived close analysis of TED talks. I’m reading the book to become a better presenter and to prepare for an upcoming keynote that I’m doing this fall. As I was reading the book, I took notes and tried to come up with different strategies that I could implement into my presentations. As I looked at my notes, however, I realized that the principles and strategies were closely aligned to teaching as well. Now, I want to stress that being a didactic speaker and being a learner-centered teacher are vastly different. I’m not advocating the “chalk and talk” mode of instruction. But examined more widely, the Talk Like TED principles can help to foster student learning. Here’s how:
1. Master the Art of Storytelling. This is Gallo’s second Talk Like TED principle and relates to fostering an emotional connection with the audience. Teachers often forget that students are emotional and social beings. Students need instructors to help them understand how content connects to their lives. This is where the power of storytelling comes in. Capture the big ideas of your content by telling the stories of discoveries and developments and relate it to students. In the book, Gallo discusses how different parts of the brain are stimulated when individuals hear stories. Instructors can tap into this increased stimulation by incorporating storytelling in their classes.
2. Have a Conversation. Gallo says that good TED speakers discuss topics with their audience. Imagine that. These speakers are on the world’s largest stage and they appear like they’re having a conversation. We have greater flexibility in this area since we can ACTUALLY have a conversation with our students. This is a great active learning strategy that can help students build understanding of content by socially interacting with their peers.
3. Teach Me Something New. Good TED speakers, Gallo says, introduce novelty into their presentations. They introduce new data and new ideas and bring together seemingly unconnected content. In classes, instructors can do the same thing. But how do we know whether the topics we introduce are new to students? That’s where the power of assessment comes in. In their book How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, Ambrose and Bridges discuss the importance of prior knowledge. For instructors to teach their students “something new,” they need to assess students early in the course to examine what students already know.
4. Paint a Mental Picture with Multisensory Experiences. In the book, Gallo outlines how TED speakers create memorable moments by tapping into the audience’s senses. Even viewers who watch the TED Talks online experience these moments. How many instructors can say they do the same? The brain has multiple routes of stimulation that can be leveraged for learning. In our classes, it is important for us to consider how we can draw on a student’s multiple senses and paint a mental picture that makes the learning experience more memorable.