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10 TED Talks Everyone Should Watch

Top 10 TED Talks Everyone Should Watch
Written by Oana Schneider

TED talks are the cheapest way to educate yourself! If you’re online for any amount of time, you are bound to stumble upon social media posts, updates or video fees for TED talks. Mostly inspiring, very informative, sometimes humorous, and frequently thought-provoking, these talks are exactly what modern society needs. 

Here, we will take a look at what makes TED talks a must-watch, and which specific videos everyone should be watching and taking lessons from right now. TED talks are a great way to know what’s going on in the world and these 10 TED talks everyone should watch, so let’s learn something today!

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading

First, what exactly does TED mean?

It stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design – three topics which were discussed in the annual conference of the non-profit organization when it first started in 1984. Over the years, however, the scope of the talks branched out to more than just these three topics.

The evolution of ideas covered almost everything from science to arts, politics to global issues, architecture to medicine, music to entertainment, and a wide array of subjects.

Some of the most famous speakers invited by the company to conduct TED talks are Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and other not as well-known personalities who are definitely an authority in their respective industries like Jill Bolte, David Gallo, Salman Khan, Esther Perel, Amy Cuddy and more.

The tagline of TED talks is “Ideas worth spreading” and no matter which topic it is that you are interested in, you are bound to find a TED talk video that will keep you thinking about it for days.

New videos are added on site regularly and the TED Conference is held in North America every spring. This occurs alongside the TEDactive simulcast. With an overall goal of spreading good ideas and using it to change attitudes, lives, and ultimately, the world, you will definitely be an inspired thinker by absorbing all the content that TED talks has to offer.

Top 10 TED Talks Everyone Should Watch

After learning a bit about how TED talks came to be, let us take a look at the top 10 TED talks that everyone must watch:

1. Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

With over 33.2 million views on Ted.com, this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson is one of the most popular. A leader of the advisory committee on creative and cultural education in Britain in 1998, he was knighted in 2003 for his academic achievements.

For this TED talk entitled “How School Kills Creativity”, he uses humor and kids as a model on how adults actually discourage or outright kill creativity. Instead of undermining creativity, he says, the educational system needs to nurture this trait which comes naturally to children.

Specifically, he invites educators like him to encourage kids to dance, experiment and even make mistakes. Entrepreneurs should also allow their employees to make mistakes, because these are gateways to innovation. 

“The Differences between Winning and Succeeding” has more than 3.8 million views on Ted.com. The speaker, affectionately known as Coach, is John Wooden, who redefines success and urges everyone to pursue the best in themselves.

In the talk, he gives the advice that he gave his players at the UCLA, even quotes poetry and mentions the wisdom imparted to him by his own dad.

Coach led the team to record wins which are still unmatched in the world of basketball. He’s the first person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as player and coach.

ESPN ranks him as the greatest coach of all time, across all sports. With his more than four decades’ worth of career at the UCLA, he redefines success as “peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Creating that work life balance is something that everyone knows they need to do, but have no idea how to actually do.

In this TED talk by Nigel Marsh which garnered 2.8 million views on the website, he reflects on an ideal day of balancing family time, personal time and work.

He provides insights and tips on how to accomplish such feat in today’s world where almost everything is instantaneous. Marsh wrote “Fit, Fifty and Fired Up, Fat, Forty and Fired and Overworked and Underlaid”. He’s also the co-founder of Earth Hour and the founder of The Sydney Skinny.

At the end of the talk, Marsh emphasizes that small things matter. Having that work-life balance does not require huge changes in your life. With small investments in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life, and even transform society.

This talk is especially geared towards young women.

Amy Cuddy, in this TED talk entitled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”, discusses how something as seemingly insignificant as crossing your arms could discourage people from actually talking to you.

Cuddy is a psychologist and professor in Harvard Business School, and in this talk, she explains how posture and body languages shapes not just how others see us, but how we see ourselves.

She highlights a two-minute exercise that you can do to walk a little taller, sit up a little straighter and other tweaks that you can do with your body language which will lead to big changes. 

The focus of this TED talk is the power of vulnerability. The video garnered more than 20 million combined views on Ted.com, YouTube.com and other video sharing sites.

Speaker Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, and she has five bestselling self-empowerment books under her name. Her talk is deep, poignant, funny and well-researched.

In the beginning, she explains how our ability to empathize, feel that sense of belonging and experience love should be combined with our ability to express vulnerability.

Embracing our imperfections is another focus of the talk, so that you can finally accept who you are and be able to connect with others in a deeper, more meaningful way.

6. Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight

More than 17 million people have watched this TED Talk from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor entitled “My Stroke of Insight”.

She’s a Harvard-trained brain researcher who suffered from a cerebrovascular accident where a blood vessel in her brain burst. While she was suffering from the stroke, her first thought was that it was so cool, how being a brain scientist, she now has the opportunity to study her own brain from the inside out.

Her journey towards recovery took eight years, and she had to walk, talk and think – all from level zero. As a haemorrhage survivor, her major insight is that our right minds can be gateways to nirvana, but only if we choose to step out of them.

7. Tony Robbins: Why We Do What We Do

More than 14 million people watched this TED talk from Tony Robbins entitled “Why We Do What We Do.” In it, he talks about the invisible forces that motivate everyone’s actions. He managed to enlighten the audience about the topic, while also getting to high-five Al Gore who was in the front row during his talk.

Robbins is a life coach and expert in leadership psychology, and we can all do with more understanding of why we actually do what we do.

8. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

The author of “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk entitled “Your Elusive Creative Genius” has been seen by more than 9 million people from all parts of the world. Gilbert is fascinated with genius and creativity, and how it gets in our way when trying to enhance both.

Garnering more than 10 million views on Ted.com, Shawn Achor’s TED talk about “The Happy Secret to Better Work” is fast-paced and entertaining.

Achor is a psychologist and is the CEO of Good Think, Inc., where he does research on positive psychology. With nuggets of wisdom like “We think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier. But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order.”

Find out more about the happy secret to better work in this inspiring TED talk.

10. Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Finally, there’s “The Danger of Single Story” which has 8.7 million views on Ted.com. The speaker is Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian author who warns about the dangers of believing a single, narrow story about anything or anyone.

A funny anecdote she shared was having arrived at a college in the US, where her roommate asked to hear some of her tribal music. She pulled out a Mariah Carey CD. In the talk, Adichie shares the story of how she found an authentic cultural voice, and how we are risking critical misunderstanding if we only hear a single story.

There are many other inspiring, entertaining, informational TED talks on the site. All you have to do is dig in to find inspiration and enlightenment about issues which your life is currently focused on.

Through the experiences and inspiring words of others, you can relate and maybe find the answers that you are looking for. 

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

5 Comments

  • I think that the one about how to make work-life balance work is very important, as this is something that not a great deal of people manage to get right a lot of the time. If you spend too much time working then you’re never going to get the chance to enjoy your life, but you do need to work to be able to earn money to do the things that you enjoy. So getting the balance right is essential. But TED talks can be great to get yourself educated in your spare time.

  • This is a great list of TED talks to watch. I make sure to check some out on a regular basis, since they’re a really good compact form of knowledge and insight. I’ve seen a few of them, and heard of a few others. I can’t wait to watch them all.

  • As a former childcare provider, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the Ken Robinson TED talk. Being someone who has taught toddlers and preschoolers through music, dance and just plain old hands on activities, this TED talk exposed what I and many other education advocates have been saying for years…that schools are getting away from teaching the whole child. Our country is more focused on test scores rather than if a child has fully grasped a concept.

    I am fortunate to be able to live in a community that has an awesome Performing Arts/Magnet High School in my community. These children are encouraged to use their artistic abilities. Our drama department almost swept the state drama awards. The school’s drama department took home 13 out of 15 awards, the band department has many accolades and awards behind them, our chorus, dance, art department and orchestra departments have received many awards too. But most of all, these kids perform professionally at high levels(culinary arts program and cosmetology courses are phenomenal)and many of the Magnet students get full scholarships to college because their grades are top notch and their talents are phenomenal. I wish we had more schools that encouraged creativity and not just rote memorization. All of my children went through the elementary school that feeds into the Performing Arts High School and the elementary and middle schools in the area have a tremendous focus on the arts, so many of the kids are really ready for the audition process at the Magnet school, and if the performing arts isn’t your child’s thing, then the school has a STEM focused academy.

    Ken Robinson’s TED talk is really worth watching and like I said earlier, I’ve seen it many times and just love it even more. So, if you haven’t seen it…..please….watch it.

    I absolutely would love to see the John Wooden and Chimamanda Adichie talks, they seem really interesting. I’ve seen all the other ones and they’re fantastic too–I guess that’s why they’re on this list.

  • I’ve enjoyed Ken Robinson and John Wooden tremendously. I’ve had experience with teaching preschoolers and students in the Primary traditional school. Those years were one of the best highlights of my life around children, teaching and learning from them. Now that I’m blessed with seven children of my own, homeschooling them has been my choice ever since. Arts, music and the cultivation of he imagination in the world of real people in history have geared our learning towards their worldview about life and understanding be seeing: why are things so,and and how history (ancient) can still be relatable to us in our day.

    I think, I am benefiting from our homeshooling situation a lot as our children allow me (their teacher) to see their views and perspective on a lot of things I sometimes deem insignificant. I’m learning that nothing is ever insignificant in a child’s mind and life. There are moments when I forget that I had been a child some time in my life.

    Anyway, my two younger ones love the expression of dancing, among other creative ideas they naturally pull up in a day. 🙂

  • Amazingly – as I am on-line a lot – I have never heard of TED Talks. Well, now I know that they exist I shall start with these ten recommendations. Thank you for introducing me to them.

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