The best TED talks you need to watch now

The best TED talks you need to watch now

Do you yearn to learn? If so, you’ll enjoy watching TED Talks. I love them and watch them regularly, so I’m excited to share some of the best, most powerful TED Talks with you. But first, an introduction to TED.

The acronym TED stands for technology, education, and design. TED Talks began in the 1980s as invitation only events for movers and shakers in the TED fields. Now it’s a non-profit, with over 2,300 talks available online at TED.com. Talks are limited to 18 minutes or less, though some creep over a little bit. There are also TED-affiliated talks all over the world that are delivered at TEDx events. In this post, the number in parentheses after the TED Talk name indicates its length.

The most viewed TED Talk of all time…

TED Talks are designed to expand your horizons and expose you to new concepts and ideas that are at the leading edge of technology, education, and design. The most viewed TED Talk of all time, with over 42 million views, is Sir Ken Robinson’s Do Schools Kill Creativity? In his Talk, Robinson explains how our current education system hasn’t evolved past teaching students to become good factory workers, squelching creativity and keeping them from becoming effective workers for the 21st century.

We should talk to strangers

In her TED Talk, Why You Should Talk to Strangers (11:52), Kio Stark shows us how we can reconnect with our fellow humans by asking meaningful questions instead of the standard “Hello!” and “How are you?” She points out that when we take a risk and start a conversation with a stranger, we can gain insights into both their world and our own. I love this one because she discusses how putting all strangers in one category keeps us cut off from rich experiences and increased connection.

man and woman shaking hands while sitting on a park bench

Is there a new American Dream?

I found this one accidentally. It popped up in my YouTube suggestions while I was on my treadmill one morning, and it blew me away. Courtney Martin talks about how, as a society, we are in the process of reimagining The American Dream (15:32). Martin points out that, for the first time ever in American history, the majority of American parents don’t believe their children will have better lives than they do. Instead of being sad about this statistic, she challenges us to use our insights, life experience, and knowledge to come up with new ways of defining the American dream.

How can we improve?

The contrast between fixed and unlimited growth has always been a favorite topic of mine. In grad school we talked about fixed and growth mindsets based on this speaker’s work. I’ve even recorded a podcast on the Growth Mindset. In her TED Talk, The Power of Believing You Can Improve (10:20), Carol Dweck explains the difference between people who believe than have the potential to learn and improve and those who believe that their intelligence and abilities are fixed. I love her description of a grading system where students who don’t earn a passing grade on their work the first time through get a “Y” because they haven’t passed it, yet, making room for improvement and the assumption that success is inevitable.

Your body language can make you or break you!

Then there’s Amy Cuddy’s Talk about body language. Her Talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are (20:55), has had had 37.7 million views to date. I bet you’ve heard of the power stance – you put your hands on your hips, spread your feet out and lift your chin. And you’ve probably heard that when you assume the power stance (aka the Wonder Woman stance), you automatically feel more powerful. Amy Cuddy did research (and continues to do research) on these two ideas.

confident woman with hands on hips

In her TED Talk, Cuddy talks about how we can use our bodies to change our brains and emotions. For example, when we assume the power stance, both our bodies and emotions feel more powerful. As a coach, I encourage my clients to assume the power stance before they go into interviews. We also practice different versions of the stance – some of them from this video. This practice is always hilarious, but it works!

Afraid to speak up for yourself?

So, this is another hot topic. I don’t know about you, but it can be hard for me to speak up for myself in certain situations. In his Talk, How to Speak Up for Yourself (15:08), Adam Galinsky demonstrates why learning how and when to speak up is a critical skill both at work and in our lives in general. His explanation of the right time and the wrong time to speak up is very enlightening, and his explanation of speaking up as a function of power is provocative. We all need to know when and how to speak up. Galinsky also reminds us about why we must speak up, particularly in negotiations.

There you are, some very thought-provoking TED Talks for your enjoyment. But what if you’re in your car or somewhere you don’t have access to a screen? For those occasions, there’s a TED Radio Hour podcast on NPR – and many TED Talks are available on iTunes.

So let me know, what’s your favorite TED Talk? What did you think about my recommendations? Is there a must-see TED Talk that I missed? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to follow Café Quill for more tips on living a well-balanced life.