Thursday, January 15, 2015

The One Secret For Doing A TED Talk (Or Any Talk)

By James Altucher

Giving a talk is the worst thing you can do to your body. First off, you want to pee, crap, and puke right before you go on stage. In other words, your body thinks it's about to die.

Second, I convince myself I'm totally worthless as a human being so I start crying and Claudia has to find me and convince me I'm wrong.

So that's when I break out the only method that ever works for me.
All the time, every day, I'm either laughing or crying. I prefer laughter.

Even the women I've been most attracted to always made me laugh. One women from 20 years ago constantly insulted me but the insults were so quick and funny I couldn't help being attracted to her.

But she was a mean person to everyone and somehow people could just tell. One time we were just walking in the street and a homeless guy walked right up to her and spat in her face.

"Holy shit!" she said, "go after him!". But there was no chance that was happening and she broke up with me.

I've already written that before I give a talk I listen to standup comedy.

James Science: it triggers the mirror neurons in my brain and helps me to relax, and maybe mimic how they work their voices and bodies, and helps me to connect better with the audience.

everal people have asked me about my just-released TED talk (found here: ) and what comedy I watched. I'll share it right here.

Most comedians are absurd. Not absurd in the sense that everything they say is ridiculous.

Here's the trick: they take you to this point we can all emotionally relate to. And then, BAM!, they blow it to smithereens. Once you can relate to them, you're along for the ride.

So this is exactly what I listened to over and over again before giving the talk.

Andy Samberg's Harvard commencement speech:

I don't think he makes sense for even one second during the entire speech. Which means he totally goes for it. He's committed to the end to stay in character no matter how confused the audience is.

It's hard to be that committed when you have no idea what people are thinking.

Bo Burnham's "what."

I have to admit, the above clip makes me jealous when I watch it. I wish when was in my 20s I had had 1/10 the talent Bo has.

The whole clip is good but the last ten minutes I was like (starting at 52:40): Oh my god, how did he come up with that?

116 videos of Amy Schumer doing standup. She might be the funniest person alive:

Marina Franklin doing standup.

She has this beautiful innocence about her. And then BAM!

Plus, you can find her on my podcast.

There's so much good Louis CK stuff that I can't pick. Just watch anything Louis CK.

Here's a recent SNL monologue he did:

Anthony Jeselnik: I like how he connects with the audience just when you think they should be hating him:

 Daniel Tosh is the reason I stopped using powerpoints in my talks.

Because you can compare how funny he is between his standup and his show Tosh.0 where he has youtube videos as props. He's about 1/10 as funny in the show.

I then read later that powerpoints use a different part of the brain and that using them in a talk forces the brain to over-work so people can't focus on your talk as well.

Anyway, here's Tosh doing standup:

I just finished reading "Food" by Jim Gaffigan. I begged his managers or whoever to see if he could come on my podcast. They said "no". That's ok. Louis CK said "no" also. And Jim is up there with Louis CK for excellent standup:

Jimmy Fallon is changing late-night TV. There's no way I can keep up with that sort of energy. But I love his SNL audition reel and the sheer talent he shows:

And then it's hard to believe that a clip from C-Span makes the list but I love how Seth Rogen injects humor into an incredibly serious issue in a congressional hearing:

I also read funny: Kurt Vonnegut, Simon Rich, Tina Fey, Douglas Adams, Miranda July.

I will tell you what did not work: watching a ton of TED videos, which I did. It just scared me. They were all so professional.

And reading all the books about how to talk at a TED talk. I know what works for me and what doesn't. This is what works for me.

I have things that I believe in and want to express because I think it helps others. I use comedy as a way to hide a message inside a bottle of entertainment.

When I hear people laugh, it makes me feel good. It was like I was attracted to the whole audience. I loved them. And I wanted them to love me back. I lasted 12 minutes.

James Altucher writes at

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