How to persuade people that you are full of good ideas

Public speaking expert Carmine Gallo shared his tips at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Carmine Gallo was speaking at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
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First, a bit of bad news: "If you cannot communicate your ideas persuasively, you'll be left behind." So says Carmine Gallo, public speaking guru and author of The Storyteller's Secret and Talk like TED. Yes, if you stand up in front of a room of strangers – or potential investors – and fall to pieces, you can forget being a successful entrepreneur. Sorry.

Hang on a second, though. Before you put your business plan back in the desk drawer, Gallo has some better news. Apparently, anyone can learn the art of public speaking. "The greatest speakers that we know are made, not born," he says during his (very well delivered) talk at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. "I have lost count of the number of people I have spoken to, all of whom you would consider great speakers, who were not just uncomfortable about public speaking, they were terrified of it.

"Richard Branson is a great example. Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest men in the world, has [also] been very open about this [fear of public speaking]. Early on in his career, he took classes and became a teacher because he knew he had to get over that fear if he wanted to convince people. That took a lot of work.”

And, Gallo argues, it is more imperative now than ever before to be able to communicate your ideas clearly. “Mastering the ancient art of persuasion is more fundamental today than ever before in history,” he says. “I have spoken to historians, scientists and economists and what they told me is that […] the 21st century is the age of ideas. This is the first time in history when anyone with an idea can share that idea and get people to buy into that idea relatively quickly.”

Mastering the ancient art of persuasion is more fundamental today than ever before in history.

OK, so what’s the key thing to remember when we’re trying to flog an idea? Storytelling, storytelling, storytelling – and brevity (a TED Talk should never be more than 18 minutes). “[Branson] said that, ‘If you want to be a successful entrepreneur today, you’d better be a good storyteller.’ […] He does not believe it is possible to be a successful entrepreneur today without being a good storyteller.

"If there is one thing you can take away from the greatest TED Talks, it is that narrative is everything. It's not just delivering information, it's crafting information in a structure that fits the way we have grown up and been accustomed to receiving information – which is through story.

“Those people who can connect with another person on an emotional level are the ones who stand out in any career, in any field,” continues Gallo. “Anyone who has an idea can get other people excited about that idea and create massive wealth for themselves.”

Well, in that case, I think I’d better buy his book then.

The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is on until April 30. For more information, visit