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Have you tried using TED Talks at work? What is your experience?

I had this idea this morning to bring TED into my workplace (see I have actually created our network on the company Yammer group today to share the idea, test it and share feedback.

Have you tried this at your workplace before? What format? What worked? What didn't? Why? I would be very much interested to hear your experience using TED Talks at work.

Consider visiting the above TED Idea post to leave a comment on the TED@[work] concept.

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    Jul 3 2011: I've shown TEDTalks at work during lunch the first Wednesday of every month for a while now. (Laptop, projector, big screen, speakers.) I've also hosted a TEDx at work, a few hours after work, with free dinner for all attendees, courtesy of my employer, and is planning another in September. The feedback has been good, but I'd recommend TEDx style events, rather than lunch-talks, as you have more time to talk and reflect after each video. My intention is to have a TEDx event at work every other month, keeping it small and simple, but still enough to promote ideas worth spreading and making TED more available to more people. My company has been a great supporter, and that is a prerequisite for success for this kind of company events.
    • Jul 4 2011: Hello Martin and thanks for your insight. The situation you describe is pretty much where I would like to be at my location in a few months, and hope to energize colleagues at other locations in our orgnanization to do the same.

      Lunch time is indeed short, hence the need for a focused discussion, possibly limiting attendance to a team (or small diverse group). I am not sure how this will work out in the end, but at least that is my going in game plan. Ultimately, the attendees will decide what they want out of this and what works for them. I believe this is key to keep the attendance and energy high.

      I see great value in organizing a proper TEDx Event at work as well, and we may go that direction after a few monthly "TED@[work] moments" (lunch sessions). But as you pointed out, it would require organizational support. I believe the monthly sessions outcomes may provide material for a good discussion with management to secure support when the time comes. But this will take time to secure, organize, etc. and jump through all the hoops large organizations tend to have. Again as you said, I would like to keep it as small and simple for now, and as much open for replication as possible.

      I would be interested to know whether you have been able to see implementation of outcomes of your lunch-talks or TEDx Events? My goal is to promote ideas worth spreading AND turn the resulting energy and inspiration into tangible change.
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    Jul 24 2011: yes, i tried, but most of the people just think you are crazy, because TED talks show scientific things while people prefers their false ideas.
    • Jul 27 2011: Hello Nicolas. It seems easier for a number of people to deny facts that challenge established beliefs or references. I believe it's called resistance to change (change of mind in this case...). I can only suggest to engage in such sharing with people you trust first, people who you know are open-minded, and looking for ways and opportunities to be and do better for themselves and for others. Don't give up! And if these people aren't at work, that's equally fine. The most important thing is to surround yourself with people that are open to new ideas, and willing to share and try them to do good. Thanks for sharing.
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        Jul 27 2011: Exactly Oob !
        Resistance to change is the good phrase to sum up what said.
        Thank you for your comment and your ideas.
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    Jul 7 2011: Hey guys :)
    I teach public school English teachers in South Korea. I recently started using TED talks as topics for discussion.

    I've used Jane McGonigal's talk
    The teachers come up with their own definitions, uses for, and examples of Urgent Optimism, Social Fabric, Blissful Productivity, and Epic Meaning. The concept of gamers being 'super-powered hopeful individuals' is a sharp change to seeing gamers as addicts wasting their lives.

    This summer, i have a six week class on how to teach Divergent Thinking. I'm going to start it with Sarah Kay's poetry exercise: write 10 things you know to be true. Then we'll watch and discuss her talk--

    (We also watch and discuss the RSAnimate's of Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms, and Matthew Taylor: 21st century enlightenment.)

    I love my job!
    • Jul 7 2011: Hey Dylan. Great to hear from your TED@[work] experience in a non-corporate environment! I'm sure your students do enjoy your class! I was actually referred to RSA Animate just last night. I haven't seen any of the videos yet but it came highly recommended. Thanks for sharing!
  • Jul 27 2011: Our school has a philosophy: It is not our job to maintain but to improve. I haven't shared any of the TED talks with coworkers, but several of the videos have inspired me to try new ideas in my classroom and to reconsider how I view the world and others. TED inspires me to be more concsious of the world around me and about how what I do affects others. Since I will be teaching seniors this year, I plan to share some of these videos with my students. I will let you know the results.
  • Jul 27 2011: I've often used TED at work - I am an ESL/EFL teacher and currently one of the electives I teach is called "Media Studies". I often show various TED talks after presenting or going over essential vocabulary, and then we all discuss some of the topics that have been discussed and listened to in a TED talk. It's awesome!
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    Jul 27 2011: Good question Oob - I use TED talks to get students thinking in environmental science classes. e.g. Craig Venter, Pater Ward, Cary Fowler, Jonathan Drory, and Juan Eriquez when we discuss biodiversity and evolution; Dean Ornish, Ann Cooper, and Mark Bittman on food; Larry Brilliant and Laurie Garrett on pandemics, Anupam Mishra and Michael Prichards on water; to name a few. After seeing and discussing a couple of these, the content in the text has a context to which it can be applied.
    • Jul 27 2011: Glyn, thank you for sharing your experience. And thank you for the list of talks you have used with your students, which I am sure others will benefit from. Ann Cooper and Anupam Mishra are definitely some of my favourites. I will probably use your list as a starting point to trigger more thinking on environmental matters. Thanks again for sharing!
  • Jul 25 2011: I showed my Year 13 (17-18 year olds) class the Sylva Earle Wish TED talk - they brought into it very quickly and were speechless throughout - Sylvias passion and hope tore down any adolescent pretence and united the group with the truth that they confronted a changing and possibly tragic future. It was the foundation for a serious talk about positive change and facing reality. The next generation shouldn't be depended on to fix our mistakes without our teaching them that we've made mistakes.
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    Jul 12 2011: Hi! I'm only a freshman in college, but I do private tutoring for those preparing to study abroad. I showed some of my favorites ( Sir Ken Robinson's "school kills creativity" and Elizabeth Gilbert's creativity talk, KIVA, etc,) and the students LOVED them. TED talks get them more and more excited about studying abroad and I hope TED keeps up with the high quality of its lectures. :D
  • Jul 9 2011: My advisor Dr. Ronojoy Adhikari introduced this TED to me very recently. I have shared this site to my research group.
    I listened the talk by James Watson in the year of 2007. Since my research topic is relevant to DNA, I shared this video talk with my supervisor and in future I have the plan to use this presentation.
    • Jul 11 2011: Vanitha, fantastic! I would be interested to hear about your experience when you share this Talk with more people around you, and what that changes for you, for your workgroup, and possibly for your research. Thanks for contributing.
      • Jul 11 2011: Dear Oob Nding,

        So far my research group has only two students( myself and my colleague). Recently, three more students have joined under my advisor. When I was discussing TED with my advisor, I requested him to gather once in a week to discuss TED talks. It will start very soon. My presentation on DNA will be coming in the month of August and I am eagerly waiting for the output from the audience.
        • Jul 11 2011: Good opportunities. Keep us posted once these have happened!
  • Jul 8 2011: We are going to try this shortly....I will update you when I have. It will be something along the lines of the try something new for 30 days. To me....theres thinking inside the box and outside the box.....but its now about....there is no box....
    • Jul 11 2011: Samuel, that's what this conversation is about! Please share your experience! Thanks!
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    Jul 8 2011: I often conduct training workshops as part of my job. I have downloaed 2 TED talks to use in future presentations. I have shared these with coworkers who did not know about TED. Now they do.
    • Jul 11 2011: Anastasia, I like it. Could you share whether this has changed anything for this group of coworkers? Anything you now do differently? Thanks for contributing.
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    Jul 3 2011: Hy Oob, I´ve trying to introduce some of the ideas of TED to the bussiness enviroment. What I do is, I try to spread the idea to my employes, so they can try to figure out some that interest to them, by thenselves, but, to estimulate the use and the reflexions, I used to bring some talk to them in this format. I invite them to go to the auditorium and listem the talk in groups. (I invite more them we have space, It´s free and open to go if you wanna go. Not mandatory! And then, after the talk, we discuss in group and I try to mediate de debates! I try also to bring the subject that interest to the moment of the company. And also, we use a corporate tool called "getingContact" (is like that is a social network inside the company, and we try to put some links of the best talks on TED into this inside net. And it´s been a great experience. Just because starts to make people think diferent, and try to use this in a day to day basis! (And of course, the participation in this program, counts positive in the pay-for-performance politics we use. (To estimulate, becouse is not mandatory)

    Hope ypu find you way my friend.

    • Jul 4 2011: Cesar, thank you for sharing. I see a lot in common between what you do and what I have in mind. I like the non-mandatory attendance, and the selection of a topic that is relevant to the company's current focus. Similarly to your "gettingContact" network, I have started a group on our company's Yammer network (, and a Wiki page dedicated to this group. The intent is to let everyone in the company know about the TEDTalks we (our TED@[work] x[Location] group) view and the actions that come out of these sessions. The purpuse is to ACT locally, and hopefully energize others throughout the organization (which is a fairly large international one) to setup similar groups at their locations and share their TED experiences and subsequent actions.

      On the "pay-for-performance" scheme, you may consider reviewing Daniel H. Pink's book ("Drive") and reflect on whether money (an 'extrinsic motivator') enables the creativity you expect from these sessions in the long run. Daniel Pink is also a TED Speaker (, but I have decided to finish the book before I watch the TEDTalk.

      Thanks again for sharing, I think it is terrific that you give your employees the opportunity to think and collaborate differently at work. Good luck with your continued TED@[work] experience!

      Cheers, Oob.
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        Jul 4 2011: Hy Oob. Thank you for reply! I´m checking the yammer tool that you told me, and I already loved. (It´s free and judging by the companies that use, it´s also safe). I hope that you have success in this initiative in your company, and people get as excited as you are!
        About the "Drive" book, thanks, I will go for it, I already watched him at TED but couldn't " link" that with the "p-f-p" scheme? Maybe, I will have to check the book! As a matter of fact, it is a non stop knowledge issue anyway.
        Good luck for you too my friend, and let´s talk in the future about the results?

        Cheers! CR
  • Jul 1 2011: We have shown a number of TED Talks at work, and all have provoked thoughtful conversation. Whether it is Sir Ken Robinson talking about creativity or Daniel Pink exploring motivation (and a host of other great speakers), we have found it a wonderful investment of our time as it often elicits engagement and healthy debate.
    • Jul 2 2011: Gene, thank you for sharing. Two questions I have regarding your experience:
      What was the format of these TED moments at work?
      Did you ever implement an idea that came out of the debates?
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    Jun 30 2011:

    It's called TEDx...

    I once tried it... it was fun, but management stopped me.
    • Jul 1 2011: Christophe, thank you for your reply. It surely seems I didn't search hard enough to find this reference to TEDx within corporation. Great to see what others have tried/are doing at work. Yet, I see a slight difference between a full scale, centralized, branded (and licensed!) TEDx Event at work, and a free format, geographically distributed, TED-inspired "lunch & learn"-type recurring activity or as I refer to them, a "TED@[work] moment". I can certainly see room for both in the workplace.

      I would be interested to hear more on why you think your management stopped you in the past, if you are able/willing to share.
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        Jul 12 2011: Reason must be that
        0) I work for a government service
        1) I made publicity without going through all the permission and forms required to organise something at work
        2) the did not understand, was thought of as possibly disruptive...
  • Jul 27 2011: Time for some feedback.

    I have held my first TED@[work] session yesterday, as part of a "lunch and learn" type event that we hold every month. For this introductory session, the Talk I picked is Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation.

    After a few words to introduce the initiative, we watched the video (big screen, room audio), and then debated on the topic of motivation, incentives and the subsequent effect on performance, for employees and interestingly enough for contractor companies.

    It was a good, balanced discussion, and the feedback from the audience is such that we have agreed to do it on a regular basis.
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      Jul 27 2011: I think it is great that this has worked for you in your workplace. The fact that people were/are willing to embrace a new idea is very refreshing.

      Thanks for sharing
  • Jul 27 2011: Unless you work in a company with people that think more along the line as you may not be a good idea. Its really odd how some people say they are open to change and want new, fresh ideas but then when someone gives them what they ask may leave a bitter taste they never expected.

    Some people are only up for new ideas on the outside but don't truly want it...its like they talk a good game but don't play by the rules.
    • Jul 27 2011: I agree strongly with this opinion. Frankly the work enviroment is not a right place for sharing ideas which could not follow the corporate rules. Even I can say that we can not expect that people will be open and honest with their opinions. Also we may loose the balance between work and privacy...
    • Jul 27 2011: Christy, Mariola, It is probably a good idea to check on a few success factors before engaging in such an exercise at work. First of all you may want to check on your company culture. Also, you want to be selective on the topics you display, as not all will be relevant in the business environment. Plus they need to be compelling. And most importantly, you want to be selective as to who you invite to watch. Make sure this is a safe - not hostile - environment. Share it with people you trust first, that you may have engaged successfully on a one to one basis, as these will support you along the way.

      Now on those people who say they are open to new ideas but go into a defensive mode as soon as you bring one... well if you are familiar with the SARAH model (exists under different acronyms), which can be used to describe how people react when they receive bad news... SARAH stands for Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, and Hope. Your colleagues might simply be at the beginning of their journey, or stuck at the Rejection stage...

      Thank you for sharing your experiences.
      • Jul 29 2011: You asked if the TED community has ever used TED at work... and we gave our input as to why it would not be a good idea. I do not believe Mariola or myself said we are doing it so I am confused as to why you have gone into an instruction mode of communication.
        • Jul 29 2011: Hi Christy. The limits of written communication... sorry for the misunderstanding. I assumed you had bad experiences doing it and shared tactics that worked well for me. Thanks for your input.
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    Jul 21 2011: We have been sharing TED talks within a diverse group of physicians, managers, nurses, hospital administrators, engineers, etc. as a part of our new academic medical center model that we are starting. We often share them and have a discussion during our "complexity conference" once a week. We are learning about complexity and systems science and how to apply that knowledge to health care. I think the talks have helped our group become more open minded and creative. We will continue to use them as we begin implementation of our new academic medical center. We are also considering starting a TEDx.
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    Jul 19 2011: Hi Oob, I highlighted the virtual choir to prospective music and computing graphics students applying to University, but of course everyone/anyone can be inspired by the talks.
    I really enjoyed the talk from the social worker about requiring a sense of belonging/attachment, and the need to 'feel vulnerable' to be successful. I showed this to one class of top set 16 yr old pupils- the concept is quite abstract for this year group- but they got it and a fine conversation developed-real critical and creative thinking- exactly what we aim for in Scotland teaching Religion and Philosophy.
    I think the talks offer excellent 'chunks' of time, that is small amounts easily 'devoured' for the school audience, and are useful in the classroom, if delivered to the right 'academic' audience, to inspire the younger generation.
  • Jul 18 2011: We used to do it on a weekly basis but as most things, inertia sets in after a while and then it seems to loose its impact. We found it's best to create an environment where there is a culture of sharing/inspiring for anyone at anytime, rather than forcing people to either come up with material of listen to talks. The more natural it happens, the more impactful. Hope this helps.
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    Jul 12 2011: I used Ted talks as an assignment in my Sustainable Business class, to expand imagination and the students' perception of business. In a business workplace, I believe a chosen Ted talk would be much more valuable than some of the so-called team-building exercises. Instead of a speaker at a brown bag lunch, I would offer a talk or perhaps have a monitor queuing up talks talks chosen by the lunchroom denizens.
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    Jul 12 2011: Hi, I am a Guidance Teacher in a High School. I was inspired by the Virtual Choir talk and graphics. I played this to a few classes, different year groups, age 12yrs, to 16 yr olds. The young kids were mesmerised by the choir, older kids enjoyed the talking part too! ; )
    I explained to them that they are part of a global community to make good communication and harmony possible, in juxta position with the negative connotations of using the web/fbook/MSM for bullying name calling etc. I challenged those who plan to go to University to study Computing/Music etc to come up with other, better ideas.
    I have also shown 3/4 minute talks as 'thinking points' at the end of lessons- eg 'Three things I learned when my plane crashed'.
    • Jul 18 2011: Hello Joanne. Great to see the Talks used at schools. Some really are able to get the attention of a broad range of viewers! What is wrong with computing or music? Or... What other answer are you satisfied with? What better ideas do you promote? Thanks for sharing and please, tell us more.
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    • Jul 11 2011: Glipona, I am so sorry to hear about your bad experience with TED Talks at work. I haven't seen the talks you refer to, but they all seem to be of the creative or artistic type. TED is all about ideas worth spreading, and I have been moved by more than one type of Talks, but one needs to be willing to listen to hear the messages.

      I don't know which Talks you introduced to your colleagues in the first place, and whether there was room for an innovative approach to collaboration at your work to begin with. After all, it all depends much on organizational and possibly location-specific culture... All I can suggest is to stay true to yourself, share the messages that move you with people you can trust, and if that is not at work so be it! There is so much more in life.

      Besides, you may want to reflect on whether the people that mock you for being open-minded and empathic are anything more than bullies in the workplace, and wether that is acceptable to your organization, and to yourself.

      I understand there are over 800+ talks on this website. There are surely plenty more you will enjoy, and which will possibly help move passed that experience. Take care.