TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Founded in 1984 as a conference to bring people from those three worlds together, it has since become a series of global events bringing together some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers. Their challenge? Give the talk of their life. In 18 minutes or less.
At the end of last year TED reached its billionth video view. That's a lot of eyeballs for a lot of time.
What makes these videos so compelling to so many people? Personal stories and a strong narrative are key factors, but mostly it comes down to the passion of the speaker: One person on stage giving the talk of his or her life.
In honor of TED 2013 (which is happening right now), here are a few of our all-time favorite TED Talks that really show off passion and storytelling.
Why Schools Kill Creativity
With almost 15 million views, Sir Ken Robinson’s case for creating an education system that promotes creativity and acknowledges there are multiple types of intelligence is the most watched TED Talk of all time.
Robinson points out that creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it as such, while also making the distinction that we stigmatize mistakes, but that “if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
The best part? Robinson makes you laugh, while also making you think.
8 Secrets of Success
Success means something different to everyone, but “being successful” is a goal for many. Analyst Richard St. John shares his “8 Secrets of Success” in this short video. Some of what he says might be things you already know (You have to have passion; do it for love, not money), but the video will leave you motivated and make you chuckle. As St. John says, “It’s not always easy to push yourself, and that’s why they invented mothers.”
Don’t have a lot of time? No worries. This one is only three minutes long!
Keep Your Goals to Yourself
You might think that one of the best ways to realize success is to share your goals. But in fact, Derek Sivers says you should keep your goals to yourself—that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. Find out why in this video that runs just over three minutes.
The Power of Introverts
A third to a half of the world’s population are introverts and yet, extroverts with their social and outgoing personalities are far more “prized” by society. Susan Cain, a self-described introvert and author, helps people to see what an introvert is and how our most important institutions (work, school, etc.) are designed for extroverts, at the expense of introverts. She describes how we need a better balance when it comes to creativity and productivity. After all, she says, “There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
10 Things You Didn't Know About Orgasm
There’s a woman who can have an orgasm every time she brushes her teeth. “Bonk” author Mary Roach tackles this and other obscure sexual conundrums in her talk “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm.” Funny, bizarre, and full of facts you might not even realized you wanted to know, like “Can a corpse have an orgasm?”
5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do
Gever Tulley, co-founder of the Tinkering School, a weeklong summer program where kids get to play with power tools and build things, not surprisingly scoffs at eliminating all instances of danger from a child’s life. We can try to keep our kids out of harm’s way at all times, but just based on the fact that they’re kids, they’re going to manage to find and create dangerous situations all on their own.
He encourages parents to let their kids play with fire, own a pocket knife, and other dangerous things you should let your kids do.
3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed
What do any of the above topics mean without an appreciation of the life you’ve been given? Ric Elias has a front row seat on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River. He shares three things he learned when his plane crashed and asks the question, “In the face of death, what would you wish you’d done differently with your life?”
Got a favorite TED Talk we missed?