There’s a lot of content out there. But how much of it is valuable to you and your career goals? TED Talks is a great source of inspiration, with over 2,400 talk tracks to choose from. We took the time to create a list of 8 of the best TED Talks that every professional should consider watching.
These videos can broaden your knowledge and change the way you apply yourself. No matter if you work in an office, freelance, are applying for a new role, or lead a team.
Some of these TED Talks are long, but they’re worth taking the time to watch. If you don’t have the time now, bookmark or save this page for later!
1. Inside the mind of a master procrastinator
Watch: 14 minutes, 3 seconds
Are we all procrastinators? You may not agree. Yet, Tim Urban, co-founder and author of Wait But Why, explains how everyone has tendencies to procrastinate.
Funny and inspiring, this TED Talk uses stick figures to illustrate the process of procrastination within the mind.
Urban investigates two types of procrastination. One can lead to achievement, while the other is the source of long-term frustrations. The latter type has extended effects that can be detrimental to a person’s self-perception and career.
2. Your body language shapes who you are
Watch: 21 minutes, 2 seconds
Amy Cuddy, American social psychologist, author, and lecturer, delivers a captivating talk on the power of body language. Cuddy’s research shows that nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves. And, how body language alters others’ perception of our confidence.
Science shows that our body language can change our mind, in turn affecting our behaviors, and ultimately, change outcomes.
So, fake it ‘til you make it? Not quite.
This is a must watch for anyone looking to advance their career.
3. 10 top time-saving tech tips
Watch: 5 minutes, 44 seconds
The content of this talk track is solely for practicality. These tips help to save you time through shortcuts you may not have known even existed. Time is something you can never get back, making this one of the best TED Talks to watch.
While there are a lot of apps you can download to save time, there are plenty of shortcuts you can apply to everyday technology. For instance, try hitting the spacebar to scroll quickly down a webpage.
Listen to the technology columnist David Pogue for his other top time-saving tech tips. These shortcuts will help you gain back precious time!
4. Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed
Watch: 18 minutes, 18, seconds
Roman Mars, radio show and podcast host, delivers a riveting talk about vexillology — the study of flags. Why? Mars explains the importance of flag design:
“What I love about flags is that once you understand the design of flags, what makes a good flag, what makes a bad flag, you can understand the design of almost anything.”
In short, the North American Vexillological Association outlines the 5 design principles of good flags:
- Keep it simple. A flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
- Use meaningful symbolism.
- Use 2-3 basic colors
- No lettering or seals. Never use writing of any kind.
- Be distinctive.
Brace yourself for some of the worst violators of these principles. Yet, during Mars’ talk you’ll learn how successful design inspires those around you.
5. How great leaders inspire action
Watch: 18 minutes, 4 seconds
With over 31 million views, Simon Sinek’s TED Talk delivers a powerful message on how great leaders inspire action. Sinek, a motivational speaker and marketing consultant, maps a simple “golden circle:” What? How? Why?
The circle can be applied to organizations and leadership. What do you do? How do you do it? Why do you do it?
The last question is what spurs inspiration. The why statement is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires leaders to do what they do.
Mapping consumer decision-making to neuroscience, Sinek shows the biological causes of behaviors and responses. In particular, the impacts of belief on decision-making.
6. Your brain on video games
Watch: 17 minutes, 57 seconds
Whether you’re a gamer or not, this fascinating TED Talk compares the neurological effects of regularly playing video games. Neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier directly measures the impact of video games on the brain.
The results of Bavelier’s research are surprising.
For example, brain imaging shows that action video game players have a larger attention span. Further, regularly playing action video games has even greater impacts. They’ve been shown to improve vision and improve learning performance. Discover how action video games can positively alter brain plasticity.
7. The surprising habits of original thinkers
Watch: 15 minutes, 25 seconds
New York Times bestselling author Adam Grant is an expert on “originals.” Grant defines originals as nonconformists, people who not only have new ideas but take action to champion them.
Through his studies, Grant has discovered that original thinkers don’t have to be the first, they just have to be different. Further, he finds power in procrastination:
“Procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity.”
You’ll leave this talk understanding how to apply original thought to succeed. And, you’ll be slow to dismiss others’ “bad” ideas.
8. Tales of creativity and play
Watch: 27 minutes, 58 seconds
Beach volleyball courts. Wooden huts and decorated caves. A fireman’s pole and giant slides. Imagine all these fun objects… in your office.
IDEO, Pixar, and Google mix play with work. But what are the benefits?
There are a series of behaviors that kids learn through play that can be applied to design: exploration, building, and roleplaying.
Tim Brown, CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO, explains how playful exploration can spur creativity. Brown, who is also an expert on design thinking, summarizes how roleplay in design establishes empathy and can prototype experiences.
Take the time to listen to this interactive talk. You’ll learn how to apply rules to brainstorming and establish productive play time through negotiation.
An environment of empowerment yields many benefits, like higher levels of productivity. Use these tips to empower employees at your workplace.