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Does body language help a TED Talk go viral? 5 nonverbal patterns from blockbuster talks

TED Blog

One nonverbal factor that correlates with higher ratings of talks and speakers? Hand movement. Photo: James Duncan Davidson. Collage by Josh Roos/TED. Hand gestures might make a talk feel more compelling. In a poll that asked volunteers to rate TED Talks, there appeared to be a correlation between the number of hand gestures a speaker made and how well people rated their talks. Photo: James Duncan Davidson. Collage by Josh Roos/TED.

All TED Talks are good. Why do only some go viral?

Over the last year, a human behavior consultancy called Science of People set out to answer this question. To do so, says founder Vanessa Van Edwards, they polled 760 volunteers, asking them to rate hundreds of hours of TED Talks, looking for specific nonverbal and body language patterns. To ensure comparability, they limited talks to videos that had been posted on in 2010 and were between 15 and 20 minutes long.

So why do some TED Talks rack up millions of views, while others on similar topics get less attention? Van Edwards points to five nonverbal patterns that the…

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