My Favourite Ted Talks

I’ve developed the habit of turning to TED talks when I want to learn something or when the news is particularly bleak and I’m looking for proof that the world isn’t all bad. With the destabilising EU referendum result and British political parties imploding left, right and centre (sorry), now seemed like an appropriate time to revisit my favourites.

The talks listed below have introduced me to different perspectives, encouraged my curiosity and reminded me of issues I care about. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you.

1. If I should have a daughter… – Sarah Kay

Spoken word artist Sarah Kay is brilliant. Here, she performs two of her poems and talks about writing as a form of self expression and a tool for community building.

2. The power of vulnerability – Brené Brown

It’s no secret that I love Brené Brown’s approach to vulnerability, which she sums up in this talk.

3. We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks about the realities of gender inequality, the problems of systemic oppression and her attempts to unlearn the expectations placed on her as a woman, particularly in Africa.

4. Everyday sexism – Laura Bates

Laura Bates talks about why and how she started The Everyday Sexism Project. I recommend reading her book on the issue, too.

5. The power of introverts – Susan Cain

We all sit somewhere on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, but our social, political and professional systems tend to be designed for extroverts. Susan Cain discusses this and explains the benefits of introversion for work, leadership, creativity and relationships.

6. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance – Angela Lee Duckworth

Angela Lee Duckworth shares findings from her teaching experience and research into the psychology of success.

7. Every kid needs a champion – Rita Pierson

I initially watched this during my first year of university, when I was volunteering as a tutor and thought I would become a teacher (maybe I will, but not yet). Rita Pierson’s enthusiasm for education and supporting young people inspired me then and it still does today.

8. Do schools kill creativity? – Ken Robinson

In this golden oldie of TED talks, Ken Robinson makes the case for cultural value and explains how the education system limits creativity in children.

9. My year of saying yes to everything – Shonda Rhimes

Queen of showrunning Shonda Rhimes shares her experience of overworking and making room for love and play.

10. The power of believing that you can improve – Carol Dweck

A useful introduction to the concept of ‘growth mindset’, which claims that ‘we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems’.

11. Why some of us don’t have one true calling – Emilie Wapnick

I love the idea of ‘multipotentialites’ – people who are drawn to and succeed in different areas of work throughout their lifetimes.

12. Why we all need to practice emotional first aid – Guy Winch

Guy Winch discusses emotional damage and how to take care of it by breaking the habits of rumination and negative self-talk.

13. Why dieting doesn’t usually work – Sandra Aamodt

Sandra Aamodt highlights recent research on, and her own experience of, weight set point theory, intuitive eating and the damage dieting causes.

14. A kinder, gentler philosophy of success – Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton talks about career crises, anxiety, competition and redefining success.

15. How to make stress your friend – Kelly McGonigal

Kelly McGonigal explains how seeing the stress response differently – as your body preparing you for a challenge, not a looming disaster – can limit its negative physical and mental effects.

16. When we design for disability, we all benefit – Elise Roy

An interesting look at design thinking and the perspectives that people with disabilities can bring to the process of problem solving for social change.

17. Love – you’re doing it wrong – Yann Dall’Aglio

A humorous take on modernity, the rise of ‘seduction capital’ and the importance of tenderness, rather than performance, in love.

18. The art of asking – Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer speaks about the value of creativity, culture and personal relationships.

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