I’ve heard people talking about TED talks for longer than I’ve actually known what that means. I suspect some of you are TED devotees, and some of you don’t know what that means. For those in the latter group, here’s the Cliff Notes version.
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading,” generally clustered around the themes of technology, entertainment, and design. A TED talk is a presentation—a talk—given at one of the global TED conferences, in 18 minutes or less, recorded for video, and available to watch for free on the TED website.
There are many types of TED talks: some feature big ideas, some small ideas. There are tech demos and artistic performances, talks about issues and artistic manifestos.
Presenters put their heart and soul into these talks. I love how I can turn one on when I’m making dinner, or tidying up, or just needing a little break, and come away educated, informed, and inspired. (Note: most, but not all, TED talks don’t require you to actually see the video, which makes multi-tasking easy.)
As of today, there are more than 1000 talks available to watch on the TED website. That’s way too many to sort through, so I’m sharing my very favorites:
The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain takes to the stage with a bag full of books (really) and a cheer from summer camp to discuss introversion, extrovert bias, and how recognizing and embracing the power of introverts makes the world a better place for everyone.
Why 30 is not the new 20, by Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—and How to Make the Most of Them Now. Jay argues that the twenties are a developmental sweet spot, not developmental downtime. A must-listen if you’re in your late teens or twenties, but even if you’re older (like I am) Jay’s talk will enhance your understanding of your own path. (Also: Jay has a great accent.)
Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, by Amy Cuddy, social psychologist at Harvard Business School. Cuddy blew my mind by revealing how your posture changes how you are perceived, how you behave, and how you feel. The sooner you watch this one, the better.
The Power of Vulnerability, by Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. Brené Brown’s work will change your life. Watch this talk for the twenty minute overview, then go get the books.
Your Elusive Creative Genius, by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things. For all you creative types—or anyone who wishes they were—because Gilbert believes we all can tap creative genius. That part about the poem barreling down over the landscape? Holy cow.
I’m always on the lookout for new TED talks. Share your thoughts on these and your own personal favorites in comments.