Bono has been working hard for a long time using his celebrity to promote causes such as fighting AIDS and World Poverty.

He has become a master at delivering impassioned and motivating speeches to promote the causes he supports and he understand what it takes to “keep the message fresh” and to stop it becoming “old news”.

factivist Bono

At the TED talks in California this week, Bono “kept this message fresh” – doing the “old” stuff he does so well and adding something new:

“So, exit the rock star. Enter the evidence activist. The ‘factivist.’ “


The video is not yet available. I’m sure there are strict video controls – especially while the TED event is underway all this week.

Here are  link to blogs about Bono’s talk (through joinred.com)


and ONE:


As I am such a student and fan of Bono’s communication style – here is my initial analysis of how “the master” continues to improve his presentation style – techniques YOU can use when spreading the message about your good cause.

Even if Bono annoys you – you can still benefit from his techniques to help your cause. I’m a big fan of his communication techniques and his commitment – but I know he annoys people too!

I’ve summarised some of the main techniques: Progress, Peril, Poetry, Pay-off, Photo opportunities and Wordplay

For further background  on Bono’s talk – here’s a link to the TED blog:



An audience likes to hear that a cause is making progress.

From my experience in helping good causes, speakers have to inject hope that supporters’ efforts are helping make progress. Their efforts are making a difference.

From the TED talk: (from the TED blog)

Here’s the surprise: there’s a lot of good news. Since 2000, eight million AIDS patients have been receiving retroviral drugs; malaria deaths have been cut by 75%; child mortality rate of kids under 5 is down by 2.65 million deaths a day. “Let’s think about that,” he says. “Have you read anything, anywhere in the last week that is as remotely as important as that number? It’s great news, and it drives me nuts most people don’t know this.”


A speaker needs to show that while progress is being made – supporters cannot get complacent.

In previous speeches, Bono has expressed this progress/peril dynamic: (I’m paraphrasing) We’re not here for a victory lap – we’ve got to pick up the pace (keep the foot on the accelerator)

There is still peril – if supporters don’t continue with their efforts. See how Bono expresses this point in his TED talk this week with memorable poetic devices.


Bono, being a lyric writer, is skilled at using the sound of words to make messages memorable.

“The opportunity is real, but so is the jeopardy.”

He starts with the progress and the positive – the opportunity. Then he pivots to the peril – he jeopardy.

It’s a simple, memorable message with similar sounding words – opportunity/jeopardy.

Bono’s speech messages are like great song lyrics – and his song lyrics are like powerful and memorable lines from speeches.

One of my favourites: (not from this recent TED talk) is:

Where you live should not decide – whether you live or whether you die.        

(Pithy, memorable, easy to repeat to others!)  

More on the power of words and the power of good lyrics in this earlier post:https://probonobono.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/20/


Audiences need to be reminded of the pay-off, the benefits of the continued action. Bono combined humour in talking about the serious pay-offs and this one…(as described in the TED blog: )

Bono joked that payoffs to eliminating extreme poverty would mean “you won’t have to listen to an insufferable jumped-up Jesus like myself” and that the year 2030 was so close that it was “only three Rolling Stone farewell concerts away.”

Photo Opportunity:

Bono understands the appeal of a good photo to hook attention of an audience. One the audience’s attention had been hooked by a photo – the audience may read the text and the detail.

Bono often gets criticised for wearing his trademark glasses. He often uses them as a prop for photo opportunities. Remember those photos of the Pope wearing Bono glasses? If I recall – I think it was the Pope who wanted to try on the glasses (I could be wrong on this detail. Whoever thought of it – it was a brilliant photo op!)

Pope Bono glasses

In his TED talk this week – Bono put his trademark glasses on upside down to show how he is changing his ways from rock star to nerdy factivist.

Word play:

Factivist is a clever word play and you will see that word in the headline of many articles about the event.

I don’t know if Bono invented or borrowed the term – but it’s a great example of the power of wordplay.

If YOU like to keep up with what Bono is up to – here’s a great resource:


So What is Pro Bono Bono?

In a nutshell:

1. A dedicated Bono/U2 fan who loves to help organisations with pro bono (for good/for free)

2. Communication coaching  to help good causes combines professional skills with passions

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Communication Coaching + Pro bono helping good causes + Bono’s inspiration and example = Pro Bono Bono

You’ll learn how to improve the way you Present and Persuade by using communication techniques effectively used by Bono.

3 thoughts on “Bono’s 2013 TED talk – Progress, Peril, Poetry, Pay-off, Photo opportunities and Wordplay

  1. Pingback: How to hook attention like Bono with colourful “headline-hooking” quotes | Hook – how to hook attention

  2. Pingback: How High School students love to learn about “Bongo” (Bono) | Pro Bono Bono

  3. Pingback: What YOU can learn from the video of Bono’s TED 2013 talk | Pro Bono Bono

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