The 110 Techniques of Communication & Public Speaking: David JP Phillips (Transcript)

Here is the full text of presentations expert David JP Phillips’ talk titled “The 110 Techniques of Communication & Public Speaking” at TEDxZagreb conference.

David JP Phillips has spent 7 years studying 5000 speakers, amateurs and professionals in order for the first time in history to detail every single skill a communicator from stage or in a presentation uses in order to deliver their message. This TEDx talk gives you the very most important ones to bring with you to your next presentation or even everyday communication! To learn more about the speaker, visit his website:

Audio MP3 version:


David JP Phillips – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT

All right. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my passion and to my love and, according to my wife, my mistress in life.

Seven years ago, I embarked on a journey to analyze 5,000 public speakers from all over the world — amateurs and professionals — in order to distill and understand what makes a good speaker good, what makes a great speaker great, and what makes an outstanding speaker outstanding. The result: 110 core skills, with loads of sub skills.

So what does it look like? It looks like this: These are the 110 core skills and the equation is simple. The more of them you fulfill the greater you are.

Now, 110 skills that’s quite a tad too many to go through in one TED talk; don’t you agree?

So what I’ve done is I’ve picked out my absolute favorites, and I’d like to show you a demonstration of what it can look like.

Imagine that this chair is something that you want somebody else to believe in, you want somebody else to buy into this. This is your idea. This is you wanting to make your voice heard. This gives you two options. Either you’re on this side of the chair and you’re a fairly mediocre communicator; you shoot from the hip, you hope for the best, and sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.

Option number two is that you’re on this side of the chair and you know exactly what you’re doing in every instance of time. You know that by taking a step forward you increase focus. You know that by tilting your head slightly to the side, you increase empathy.

You know that by changing the pace of what you are saying, you increase focus. And you know that by shifting yourself lower, you increase trust. And you know that by lowering your voice, you get anticipation. And you know for absolute certain…(pause) that if you pause you get absolute and undivided attention.

Now the question then is: Can everyone be on this side of the chair? Can everyone become good at these skills? What do you think the answer is? Of course, it is.

Why? Because it’s called presentation skills, skills, skills, skills, skills, skills. It is not, has never been, and shall never be called the talents. You’re not born with a particular gene that makes you brilliant on stage. Something you acquire through life.

Now as I said 110 skills that’s quite the number. So what I’ve chosen to do is I’ve picked out the five — would I say most important skills? Whenever somebody comes to me and they want coaching, this is what I focus on. And then I’ll actually give you four bonus skills at the end as well. Sounds OK?


So let’s start with two of my favorites from body language which is Skill 34 and Skill 69 that is not intentional. Not 34 — what am I doing – what could I be doing differently in this case?

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an absolute pleasure to have you here today, good of you to come.

What should I have avoided? I should have avoided closing my body language because whenever a human being closes their body language it is a sign that they feel threatened in one way or another. So I should have continued with an open body language.

So let’s have a look at Number 69 which looks like this: I’ll have to start up here. So when a presenter starts like this they go, what should I do better now?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to one of the most influential subjects known to mankind. Now this will be super interesting, we’ll be going through this, you’ll be having an amazing time, Wow! It’ll blow you away.

What should I have avoided? Reversing. Look what a double incorrect looks like? It looks like this.

Ladies and gentlemen, absolute pleasure to have you here and good of you to come.

Well a double correct looks like this:

Ladies and gentlemen, an absolute pleasure to have you here, good of you to come.

Is there a difference? Of course, there is. The biggest difference is in here. I can feel a difference while doing those two versions. You become what you are.

Now let’s ask ourselves: “Yeah but David, the closed body language things what shall I do with me hands, what shall — how where shall I put them?”

And the interesting thing with the closed body language is that wherever I went all over the world studying these people, it seems like we’ve got a general kind of locked body language positions. And I’ll show you my favorites that I’ve found — we’ve obviously got the classical fig leaf position. Then we have the double bunny position. You have the right bunny position, the left bunny position, the right tackle and the left tackle. Then you have the forklift. You of course have the peacock with flapping elbows. You have the major, the Merkel, the prayer and the beggar.

ALSO READ:   Tiny Surprises for Happiness and Health: (Full Transcript)

One of my personal favorites is the British horse rider and the British horse rider — it’s a person who holds their hands like this, puts it just above the chest and it’s like they’re off somewhere: Oh, God, Fox over here and then we found two T-rexes as well in the study. Such a weird thing presenting like this or like this.

Okay, so you mean, David that we need to have an open body language? Yeah that’s what I mean and I’m not allowed to have them in my pockets, not allowed to have them in my major or the double bunny, no.

What on earth shall I do with them then? What you should use them for is what is called functional gesturing to show that something is getting better. Well that something is getting less good or that it’s one two three four five that we are going to go through. Use your gestures for what they’re supposed to be used for.

And what’s interesting with this is that, if you imagine the time we’ve spent on this planet as our race, how much of that time have we spent using gestures and non-verbal communication in order to communicate what we’re saying? Is that more than verbal? Absolutely.

Give me – let me give you a demonstration of how important it is.

So I’ll say something now and everything I say will be super positive. My facial expressions will be super positive and the way I say it will be super positive. But my hands will be saying the opposite. Are you with me? This just requires some focus.

All of you should learn more about public speaking, because if you do that, you will become better. You will grow and you will develop as a human being. People will love your presentations, listening to your arguments and just generally loving whatever you’re doing. So do yourself a great favor: learn more about this particular subject, because you’ll be thanking yourself for the rest of your life. And particularly you have been absolutely incredible. So I thank you for listening here.

Thank you.

Now the question is this: Did you listen to what I was saying or what I was doing? I believe that you focused entirely on what I was doing. And that is the case with body language and gestures. If it’s not saying the same thing as what you’re saying verbally, there’s a discrepancy and a disturbance in the communication.


Let’s move on from body language to a couple of tips on voice. And the first one I’m going to give you is about pace. So listen to this:

Ladies and gentlemen, what I’m going to take you through now is incredibly important for now and for the rest of your future life. We’ll go through the cortex, we’ll go through the limbic and the reptilian system. We’ll go through a psychological advanced profile where we’ll take you through the entire steps of the structure. We’ll then look at how that relates to Aristotle as Ethos, Logos and Pathos and I’ll carry on in this pace.

Compare that to this:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m now going to take you through something that is entirely and utterly boring, something that you will have no use of in your entire life. And every second spent listening to me now and on will be a waste of time.

And now look at your faces you’re like Whoa! That last bit, I want more of that. That was super interesting the useless stuff. Yeah, I don’t want the brain so much. I want the second bit.

Why? Because your brains — they react to when a person has a low pace you think that what I’m saying is more important than whenever I have a high pace, because that illustrates that I don’t really want to be there. There are exceptions to this rule but that is the basics.

So keep a calm pace.

My next tip goes on pauses. The pause — is the pause important? Absolutely, it is.

So let me give you a classical rhetorical proverb. Now without pauses and it goes like this:

Did you know that every single decision you’ve taken in your entire life and will take for the rest of your life is based on one thing and one thing only? If you give that to the people listening to you, that is the feeling, that is what will move them now.

Now I’ll add pauses and it sounds like this:

ALSO READ:   Why Toddlers are Smarter Than Computers: Gary Marcus at TEDxCERN (Transcript)

Did you know that every single decision you’ve taken in your entire life and you will take for the rest of your life is based on one thing and one thing only?…(pause) and that is an emotion. Now if you give that emotion to the people listening to you, they will take the decisions you want them to take.

Is there a difference? Absolutely. But you know what? Some people are afraid of the pause. So you go like: woah, am I going to do one of those? I’m not; I refuse. I prefer to compromise, and you know what the compromise for a pause is: what does it sound like? Yeah, uhhhhh, ayeee, uhhhh, ahhhh. It’s like a skok of sheep when you listen to certain conferences… uuuhhhh…

There’s nothing among these 110 skills that lowers your ethos and your credibility more than uuuhhhh, because it signals that you don’t know what you are saying and where you’re going in your talk.

So let me give you a demonstration:

Did you know that every single decision you’ve taken in your entire life and will take for the rest of your life is based on one thing and one thing only?…uuuuhhhhhh… and that is a feeling…ahhhhhhh..

I think you prefer the one with a silence.

Now those were the five main skills I wanted to take you through. And if you haven’t used them before and you start using them as a public speaker, they will make a difference to your speech.

I would like to treat you to four small skills as well, just to give you an appreciation of how small a skill can be but still have a great impact. It looks like this (gestures)…. and those were the four skills.

Did you follow them? Number one as I looked up, which illustrates that I’m thinking, which increases your sense of presence for me on stage.

The second thing I did was that I did an audible inhale which makes your brain believe that I’m going to say something that’s exciting.

I then combined that with a Duchenne smile which means that I smiled with my mouth and with my eyes.

Did you fall for it? Because what I did as well was this: I did a self laughter, and also that increases anticipation of what I’m going to say.

So four small skills executed in five seconds changes the state of your mind.

I’d like to pick out one of those and just end off with that and that is the Duchenne smile.


Duchenne smile has in studies shown that you are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced, you’re happier, you’re more content with life. And you actually are more relaxed in situations like this.

So I asked myself: am I a Duchenne smiling person? And to figure that out, I walked over to my computer and I logged in and I looked at all my 60,000 Google photos. They’re not all of me but of family members and others. I looked at mine and it seemed my brain required sort of a miracle to do a Duchenne smile. You know where you smile with your entire face. I thought that’s not fair.

And considering the psychological benefits I better learn this. So I spent not four but six months learning how to do a Duchenne smile. And suddenly my brain was launching Duchenne smiles in just everyday happiness. It’s beautiful and I felt happier as a human being.

I want to show you what it looks like. Every time I go on my summer holidays I take a photo of myself. And these were the last years of those photos. This was 2014. There’s no Duchenne smile. 2015 definitely no Duchenne smile. 2016, still no Duchenne smile. 2017 no Duchenne smile. This year Duchenne smile.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely. Brings joy to you and stability to me.

Now we’ve come to the end of this talk and I would like to end with something that relates to boxing. You know Muhammad Ali and the likes — they have combinations for when they’re going to strike somebody, knockout. And the same kind of combinations exist in public speaking as well.

So what I’d like to show you is this combination. I’m going to start with the Number 34, go to number 8 and then we’ll carry on to 69, and 98 to 67 and 18, 22 and 101 and 21. Are you ready for the combination? Okay, looks like this.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that you’ve had fun, that you have learned. But more than anything I hope that you feel inspired to become a greater public speaker. Because anybody can become good, anybody can come great and everybody can become outstanding, because it all comes down to one single thing. [Smiles]


For Further Reading (Book):

How to Avoid Death By PowerPoint

How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking: Danish Dhamani (Transcript)

Dawn Huebner on Rethinking Anxiety: Learning to Face Fear (Transcript)

Think Fast, Talk Smart Communication Techniques by Matt Abrahams (Full Transcript)

Scroll to Top