5 Reasons to watch TED and 10 Recommended TED Talks

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When was the last time you got excited with any story? When was the last time you learned something interesting? Did you know that so many great stories are compiled in one place?

To me, that’s TED talk. I used to watch it occasionally. But in 2021, I decided to take challenge of watching 1 TED per day! And let me share some of the key learnings and my favorite talk in this entry.

 What is TED

For those who are not familiar with TED, below are some of the highlights:

  • TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design (first annual conference in 1990).
  • Speaker presents a short talk (up to 20 min) under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”,
  • All the talk is available online for free.
  • TEDx events are hosted around the world by individual communities that focus on local voices.
  • TED-ed is an education initiative — makes short animation video lessons worth sharing, aimed at educators and students.

5 reasons to watch TED constantly

1. Free Interesting Ideas
Let’s remind ourselves that humans are by nature attracted to stories, be it fiction or non-fiction. Hearing interesting stories from selected speakers simply entertains you and TED usually gives you some knowledge. So it gives you joy and learning. And please don’t forget it’s free!

2. Learning Storytelling Skill
Each TED speakers have to go through selection and rehearsal. Most viewed TED speaker among them have great story telling skills (hook, situation, challenge, ideas for solution, etc.) and it is just great learning. Unlike traditional presentation with powerpoint slides, most TED speakers don’t use slides (some do occasionally to complement their story). Story comes first and visual is secondary, not the other way around (we’ve seen so many presenters who just read slides!).

3. Language learning tool
TED can be a good channel to learn languages. Many talks have subtitle in different languages. If you want to hear in your target language, you can check TEDx as they usually use local languages.

4. To be out of your comfort zone 
TED includes a variety of topics which you wouldn’t usually even think of or read about (e.g. vulnerability, being a model, magic, you name it). It means that you can learn lots of things outside of your comfort/familiar zone from this platform.

5. Stocking ideas to share/use  
After watching TED talk, you can be the one who will share it with your friend. So you now have a topic for conversation! The more you share/teach, the more you learn about it (otherwise you will forget easily).

10 Recommended TED talk from the new habit

To take advantage of the benefit mentioned above, I decided to have a habit of “watching TED talk constantly”.  If you are new to TED, I would recommend to start with The most popular 25 TED talk. Below are my favorite 10 talks I picked up (purely subjective).

#10. The power of vulnerability (Brenné Brown)
This is great reminder that it is ok to be vulnerable.

#9. How your brain responds to stories (Karen Eber)
This is the only one I didn’t pick from the most 25 popular TED talk, and it shows how we remember story more scientifically.

#8. How I held my breath for 17 minutes (David Blaine)
It shows we can do what seems to be impossible. The simple principle this magician tells about his great achievement is “practice, training ad experimenting” Once someone breaks the record, others will follow.

#7. What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness (Robert Waldinger)
From vast amount of data through a 75-year-old study on adult development, he shares three key aspects for happiness: (1) social connections (loneliness is a killer) (2) Quality of the relationship and (3) good relationship protects both brain and body.

#6. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance (Angela Lee Duckworth)
The success comes from the attitude and action to keep trying, not being smart or having high IQ.

#5. Happy Secret to Better Work (Shawn Achor)
He challenges old notion of hard working leads success and hapiness, by reversing the order: being happy first then others will follow. 90% of happiness comes from internal by being present and positive. They key training for your brain to be happy includes: 3 gratitudes per day, journaling, meditation, exercise, random act of kindness.

#4. How Great Leaders Inspire Action (Simon Sinek)
To inspire action (e.g. buying product), he emphasizes to start with WHY, then HOW and WHAT as opposed to bad example of mentioning WHAT and HOW.

#3. Your Body Language May Shpe Who You Are (Amy Cuddy)
Body language affects our mind and just 2 minutes of power pose (e.g. open your arms widely and behave as a hero) will improve your performance (e.g. before interview). Fake until you make it!

#2. Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator (Tim Urban)
He is funny, uses images effectively and a great storyteller. When there is a deadline, panic monster stops gratification monkey. We are all procrastinator to  some degree, but life is too short to procrastinate and when there is no deadline, it is important to start, sometimes soon.

#1. Do Schools Kill Creativity? (Sir Ken Robinson)
He just stood there and tell great story, period. This is the most viewed TED talk and my best. There is a good reason why it is still number 1 (and it’s about school and creativity). I talked about him in this entry for his memorial of death.

That’s it.

Oh, although it is not my personal favorite, there is a Special prize!
Special Prize: The Next Outbreak? We’re not Ready (Bill Gates)
Bill Gates was right, and maybe we didn’t listen to him.

It was quite tough to pick best 10 and special prizes. Here is the list with link.

#10. The power of vulnerability (Brenné Brown)
#9. How your brain responds to stories (Karen Eber)
#8. How I held my breath for 17 minutes (David Blaine)
#7. What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness (Robert Waldinger)
#6. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance (Angela Lee Duckworth)
#5. Happy Secret to Better Work (Shawn Achor)
#4. How Great Leaders Inspire Action (Simon Sinek)
#3. Your Body Language May Shpe Who You Are (Amy Cuddy)
#2. Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator (Tim Urban)
#1. Do Schools Kill Creativity? (Sir Ken Robinson)

Special Prize: The Next Outbreak? We’re not Ready (Bill Gates)

My challenge of watching TED every day? Oh, it didn’t work. It is now 2-3 presentations per week. At least I tried and still continuing in my pace, which is important.

The learning of this time 

Watching TED constantly provides opportunities to enjoy free interesting ideas, lean storytelling skill, get out of your comfort zone, learn language and new ides to use and share.

Thank you for reading this article. If you like it, please don’t forget to subscribe before your leave. If you have any comments/questions, please feel free to do so. Have great learning!

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