10 Awe-Inspiring Ted Talks That Everyone Should Watch

Lifestyle October 5, 2017 By Hugo

Technology, Entertainment and Design or 'TED' as it is more commonly known, is a non-profit organisation that hosts thousands of online talks on not only the subjects mentioned but on a range of others too, with the most popular ones viewed millions of times. There's something for everybody when you scroll through their extensive back catalogue, and whether you're a teenager embarking on college or a middle-aged divorcee seeking inspiration from your hollow existence, TED will be sure to have you covered.

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With that in mind, and in the interests of staying faithful to the company's motto, 'Ideas worth spreading', we've compiled 10 of our favourite TED talks that are not only interesting but incredibly inspiring.

1. Cameron Russell- Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model

When Cameron Russell took to the stage at a TED conference in Washington D.C., eyes were no doubt on her, but likely for reasons other than what she was about to say. Unlike other Ted speakers, Russell was, and still is, a highly successful underwear model, which no doubt added to the anticipation of her talk- a talk which remains one of Ted's most viewed videos.

To summarise the video, the model takes umbrage at society's constant need to sell things via appearance and what it does to people of a more malleable persuasion (i.e. children and teens) when you have corporations dressing child models in clothes typically sported by 25-year-olds. Not only this, the interesting talk plays into our biological programming of how we judge beauty (alarmingly, only 4% of models were white in a study Cameron observed of over 600 models) leading many young girls to aspire to be something that is out of their control. 

Simple arguments, yes. But the message is a powerful one, and in an age where we are always rating each other via dating apps (watch the Black Mirror episode Nosedive for an excellent social critique), Cameron's message is all the more poignant.

2. Simon Sinek- How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek's talk on millennials in the workplace recently went viral, but his celebrity status in the world of motivational speaking had long been established, with his most viewed talk of all, How great leaders inspire action', a favourite among business types. Analysing the way great market leaders like Apple, and even visionary human rights leaders like Martin Luther King, stood out from the heard, Sinek condenses his points with ease. 

Firstly, Sinek refers to the circle he calls 'The Golden Circle' with the words 'Why', 'What' and How' written within it. He then explains that is not what you do, or even how you do it, but why you want to share your product or spread your vision, a word which allows you to be visceral and emotional and play more into the hearts of those you're influencing. Again, it's a very simple way of looking at a subject as multifaceted as leadership, but one which makes incredible sense.

3. Dan Pink- The puzzle of motivation

Dan Pink is a great motivational speaker, so you know you're in for a treat whatever topic he covers but his Ted talk on motivation is a must-watch. Dispelling the myth that larger paychecks lead to greater levels of motivation, Pink cited studies which showed that traditional motivators, like higher salaries and bonuses, only work in certain circumstances.

What's more, they stumble creativity and make us passive workers as opposed to knowledgeable and passionate ones, ideas that are of a similar nature to Sinek's talk which stressed the importance of companies tapping into the more emotional side of people's psyches rather than dangling them a carrot and stick.

4. Julian Treasure- How to speak so that people want to listen

Viewed over 9m times on the organisation's YouTube channel, sound expert Julian Treasure's talk on the best ways we can communicate our ideas and get other people to take an interest is a great insight and lesson into what Treasure describes as our 'toolbox.'

The British speaker goes on to state that few open the toolbox or exercise its full potential, and suggests that the most welcomed voices are those of a rich and lower volume, which he describes as akin to hot chocolate. 

Most importantly, he lists the key ingredients of what makes a successful speaker, with those being; pace, volume, pitch, register, timbre and prosody, elements that if mastered well, can help change the outcome of many important questions in life, from asking for a raise at work to proposing to your loved one.

5. Dr. Ivan Joseph- The skill of self-confidence

From a small town of less than a 1,000 people, Dr Ivan Joseph believes he had no right to go on and become head of an elite College's Athletics Department but explains that his unwavering self-confidence allowed him to get to where he is today.

Verging on the cliched at times, Joseph's affable nature and down-to-earth persona, all while telling us that we are the master of our own ship, somehow manages to feel refreshingly unique and stir up a fire that is often missing in our everyday lives. 

6. Ran Gavrieli- Why I stopped watching Porn

Ran Gavrieli's speech on the taboo topic of porn and its cultural damages was always going to raise a few eyebrows, but it ended in a rapturous applause. Gavrieli, who studies gender at Tel Aviv University, stresses that people's desire for sex (primarily men and boys) stems from what they have seen in porn, an industry which people forget is another form of prostitution.

Not only this but he revealed that his work in high Schools and colleges found that while men's pre-conceived nature of what makes a relationship centred more around sex, women, also, felt a need to sexualize their appearance and focus less on who they are and more how they looked and acted in bed.

7. Elizabeth Gilbert- Your elusive creative genius

The author of the international best-selling memoir, 'Eat, Pray, Love' gives an extraordinary speech on the pitfalls and struggles that come from accepting your creative wants and putting them into action- despite society's constant need to tell creatives that it is unlikely such a career path will yield much success.

Challenging that common assumption, the author, whose works have sold a phenomenal 7m copies, believes we all have a creative genius within us that we must never let wither away because of the opinions of others. Better still, she's funny, and for someone who wrote a self-help memoir, incredibly grounded in her reasoning.

8. Kalina Silverman- How to skip the small talk and connect with anyone

Kalina Silverman was feeling how most first-year students felt in their first few weeks at College: lonely. To combat this, Silverman decided to undertake a social experiment which saw her going up to strangers and, rather than just make small talk and ask them how they were, asked them meaningful questions instead.

It was a brave experiment but spawned many interesting responses, and most importantly demonstrated that if we open up to Earth's children as opposed to a close circle of family and friends, we can connect with anyone and experience much more from fellow human beings.

9. Shawn Achor- The happy secret to better work

Much like the beliefs held by Dan Pink and Simon Sinek, the entertaining psychologist Shawn Achor comically explains that happiness, above anything else, is the best recipe for better work, tieing into the famous quote from visionary genius Steve Jobs that "The only way to do great work is to love what you do."

Yet despite such quotes filling the walls of many an office cubicle, we are more often of the mindset that we must work towards happiness, when in reality by working in the first place, our happiness should already be in place by doing a range of everyday things like exercise, meditation and even by displaying random acts of kindness. 

10. Tim Urban- In the mind of the procrastinator

In a hilariously delivered speech by Government graduate Tim Urban, an Instant Gratification Monkey becomes a metaphor, along with a drawing of himself to demonstrate the conflict that exists when you regularly procrastinate. After all, most suffer from procrastination yet can't shake the habit, something Urban highlights further by introducing the Panic Monster once everyday realities like essay deadlines or completing a work project come into play.

Furthermore, Urban's natural charisma and experience at being a Grade A Procrastinator make it even more poignant once he reveals the impact the 'Instant Gratification Monkey' can have on our lives through wasted days in front of screens or attending parties that make us feel bad because we've done little in the way of work. 


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