If You Are Not Watching TED Talks, Your Brain Could Very Well Be Melting.


Brene Brown’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability swept me away for a full 18 minutes, one lazy Sunday afternoon, in 2010.  I was doing research (which is code for trolling the web with a glass of wine in my hand), when I came across her mind-blowing presentation.

I had no idea what a TED talk was! Now, over 19 million people have viewed Mrs. Brown’s presentation. As a person with a teeny tiny attention span, those 18 minutes were surprisingly digestible. Because of the impact Brene left on me, TED talks have become a weekly staple in my brain diet.

 If you have no idea what I am talking about – if  TED  talks do not ring a bell – grab a seat, because I am about to give you a TEDucation.


 Who is TED? This is the first question people often ask. TED is not a “who,” TED is a “what.” TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and the TED events bring together the “best of the best” in each of these categories to share their most exquisite ideas on topics from business to global issues. TED conferences were started in 1984 by Richard Saul Wurman and later taken over by Chris Anderson. TED is now a non-profit, uber-successful company, with conferences in over 100 countries.

 TED exploded when Chris Anderson got a hold of the program, in 2001.  He, transformed TED to a non-profit organization, and forged ahead with a vision to find the most interesting people in the world and let them spill their wisdom and knowledge, all over the stage, in less than 18 minutes, on the subject they are most passionate about. Between 2001 and 2006, TEDglobal, TEDprize, TEDx, and TEDtalks were formed allowing millions of people to be exposed to the goodness of TED. 

Why does the TED format work? Simply, it is the perfect recipe for human consumption.  The speakers are innovative, chalked full of information, often funny, and quite memorable. They sneak up on you and teach you something when you didn’t even realize you were up for learning. And, although you may not realize this, each TED speaker is held strictly to certain commandments consisting of 10 points that just might be the “key” to the company’s success.

 The “TED” Commandments:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out Thy Usual “Shtick.”
  2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal Thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of a Blessed Connection, and Exquisite Controversy.
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt Thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of Thy Failure, as well as, Thy Successes.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither Thy Company, Thy Goods, Thy Writings, nor Thy Desperate Need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember All the While: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read Thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.


 About a year ago, I took a speaker’s class that focused largely on being able to give a TED-style presentation on a subject of your choice. It was one of the best and most difficult tasks I had ever endured. One of our reading assignments was “How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World’s Most Inspiring Presentationby Jeremy Donavon. If you want to know more about the art of creating an inspiring “TEDtastic” presentation, Donavon’s book is a great resource.

 So, as a gift to you I am going to lead you straight to the absolute 12 must-watch TED talks I have had the privilege of viewing. From here, the moon because you can watch TED talks approximately for the rest of your life. There are already almost 2000 talks available on the TED website as we speak, and more being added everyday.

 Best TED on having a unicorn for a sister – SHAWN ANCHOR

 Best TED on education – SIR KEN ROBINSON

 Best TED by a kid that hacks his own schooling- LOGAN LAPLANTE

 Best TED on the power music and sparkly eyes- BENJAMIN ZANDER

 Best TED on wheelbarrows full of sugar- JAMIE OLIVER

 Best TED on the wonder woman stance and how it can change everything- AMY CUDDY

 Best TED on being vulnerable and authentic- BRENE BROWN

 Best TED on a brush with death – JILL BOLTE TAYLOR

 Best TED on fleshing out a liar – PAMELA MEYER

 Best TED under two minutes- TERRY MOORE  

 Best TED on everyday leadership DREW DUDLEY 

 Best TED on using less crap – GRAHAM HILL

So to keep your brain from melting, you MUST MUST engage in one brain-supporting TED talk a week minimum!

What is your favorite TED? Please share below. 

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9 Responses

  1. So happy you wrote about TED.
    Just watched a segment about TED the other night on dateline.
    When will you be giving a TED speech. You are a fine candidate! !

    1. Not at all!! But start watching, your mind will be blown. 18 minutes is such an easy chunk to bite off! Start with the 10 I suggested. They are a good variety and NETFLIX has them grouped into subjects as well which is a good way to go through them.

  2. Yes, yes, and more yes! I have known about TED talks for some time, but have only seen a couple and it’s always on my to do list to go back and watch more. Thank you for putting your favorites because that gives me a great starting point with a reminder that they really are brain food. I’ll be putting this link in my Friday Favorites post to this week so be on the lookout!

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