Why are TED talks so popular?


Quick Answer

The passion that speakers at TED talks display, their personal stories, the emotionally charged events that occur during talks, and the format's brevity are four reasons why TED talks are so popular, according to Prezi.com and author Carmine Gallo. In his book, "Talk Like Ted: 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Best Minds," Gallo examines the attributes that make TED talks so compelling. Much of Gallo's data corresponds to scientific data, which the author cites in the book.

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Full Answer

For example, TED talks obey an 18-minute rule to make it easy for an average listener to retain what she hears. Talks that are longer than 18 minutes may result in what scientists refer to as "cognitive backlog," which is a tendency for a listener to forget everything she hears when presented with too much to digest in a sitting.

Speakers who deliver TED talks are invariably passionate about life, their career and their subject matter. This passion spills over to the listener, which compels her to return for more TED talks with enthusiasm and the expectation of hearing another set of passionate speakers. Researchers call this phenomenon "mood contagion," the sharing of exciting, positive vibes.

Stories, especially personal ones, tend to buttress TED talks with an irresistible human element that listeners readily relate to. Prezi.com cites the viral status of Cheryl Sandberg's TED talk, which included a story about her daughter clinging to her when Sandberg was preparing to leave to deliver her TED talk.

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