The 6 Best TED Talks for Communicators


TED, founded in 1984 as a one-off event, in Monterey, California, has grown into a global set of conferences sharing “Ideas Worth Spreading” in the technology, entertainment and design industries (hence, TED). The no-longer-than 18-minute talks are live-streamed over the Internet, for optimal “spread,” and are meant to be both innovative and engaging. Few disappoint. And, especially in recent years, TED Talks have gone on to achieve notoriety for their medium and their messaging; not to mention, the messengers, who have included notorious voices of the 21st-century zeitgeist, such as Bill Clinton, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Bill Gates, Bono, Larry Page and Sergey Brin… Just to name a few.

Recently, PR Newswire released their list of the six best TED Talks for communicators and PR professionals, which we felt was well-worth sharing with you.

1. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, Amy Cuddy

Who: Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, is a researcher and professor at Harvard Business School. She’s known for her work on stereotyping and discrimination, emotions, power, nonverbal behavior, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels.

What: Cuddy explains how our body language influences other people’s perceptions of us, how our mind affects our hormones, and how “power posing” can help you “fake it ‘til you make it.”

Why: Her TED Talk, originally delivered at TED Global 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and posted in October 2012, has been viewed more than 19 million times and ranks among the top 2 most-viewed TED Talks.

2. The Clues to a Great Story, Andrew Stanton

Who: The Pixar alum is a film director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor who has worked on favorite family movies, including A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Toy Story (1, 2 and 3), and Monsters, Inc. (In other word’s, his name being listed, had us at “hello.”)

What: Starting at the end, and working back to the beginning, Stanton—one of our generation’s greatest storytellers—shares his top tips for spinning a great yarn, with terrific takeaways, like the “unifying theory of 2+2,” invoking wonder is a story’s “secret sauce,” and “use what you know then draw from it.”

Why: See “Who” (above). Need we say more?

3. Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders, Sheryl Sandberg

Who: Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook, where she manages sales, marketing, public policy, business development, human resources and communication. In 2013, Sandberg released Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. The tome has gone on to inspire an entire non-profit organization that in turn created a viral movement this spring with its #BanBossy campaign, featuring Beyonce, Jennifer Garner, and Condoleeza Rice.

What: In her 2010 TED Talk, Sandberg suggests that “Women are not rising to the top positions of their companies anywhere in the world. Three things need to happen if this is going to change.” Learn what the three messages are that women need to tell themselves in order to achieve success.

Why: Sandberg has grown beyond her estimated $1bn net worth to be the world’s leading advocate for the success of future female executives and pioneers.

4. How to Make Work-Life Balance Work, Nigel Marsh

Who: The author of Fat, Forty and Fired, Overworked and Underlaid and Fit, Fifty and Fired-Up, boasts a 25-year career in branding and marketing. Currently chairman of The Leading Edge, a strategic research consultancy, Marsh has worked with a number of high-profile brands, including McDonalds, Canon, Pepsi, P&G, Virgin, Mars, Fiat, and Colgate. He is also an advocate of social engineering, co-founding the energy-saving movement Earth Hour, and founding The Sydney Skinny.

What: Achieving a healthy work-life balance may seem like an elusive dream, but marketer Nigel Marsh discusses why chasing the dream is important. Marsh took a year out from work to develop his theories, and his pursuit of the perfect equilibrium delivered him to four critical observations. Here, he lays out an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time and productivity – and offers some stirring encouragement to make it happen.

Why: A great read for anyone who feels that they need to take stock of their lives and change something fundamental to achieve greater happiness.

5. How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek

Who: This contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post is best known for popularizing the concept of “the golden circle” and starting with “Why?”

What: Sinek uses the TED platform—and great examples including Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers — to demonstrate why he believes we are more inspired and influenced by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others. Are you now inspired? Read on. His 2009 book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, develops the theories and observations Sinek lays out in his talk.

Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action is the third most viewed video on TED.com. Maybe that’s because “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” and Sinek is a pretty convincing watch (and read).

6. 5 Ways to Listen Better, Julian Treasure

Who: The self professed “master of sound,” Treasure operates under the slogan “powerful speaking and listening for health, wealth and relationships.” It all sounds a little hokey until you uncover that this founder and chairman of The Sound Agency — a UK-based consultancy that focuses on “How does your brand sound?”—has worked with clients as notable as Harrods, Nokia, BP, Marks & Spencer, the Waldorf Astoria and more. So, on second thought, maybe we should sit up and listen better to what this man has to say…

What: In 5 Ways to Listen Better, this five-time TED speaker states his case for putting down the technology to tune back in, become a better listener, and connect better with those around you. In his talk, Treasure suggests which factors are challenging optimal listening and even states his case for why listening now ought to feature in school curricula.

Why: Feeling disconnected or that modern life has affected your ability to listen? Then this one’s for you. “Remove your headphones, tune in and reconnect with the world of glorious sound.”

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