Playlist (53 talks)
The Official TED Talk Guide Playlist

A list of the talks mentioned in TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. Chris Anderson's comments on each talk (in the grey italics) indicate why they were included in the book. Use the book index for more info.
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Playlist (53 talks): The Official TED Talk Guide Playlist

  • 8:47
    Now playing
    Jeff Han shows off a cheap, scalable multi-touch and pressure-sensitive computer screen interface that may spell the end of point-and-click.
    “We saw this two years before the launch of the iPhone. It was clear from these 8 minutes that the way we interact with computers would change forever. Fantastic demo, beautiful set up and executed. When you hear the audience gasp, you know you’re onto a winner!”
  • 19:24
    Now playing
    Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.
    “TED’s most viewed talk as of 2016 is a stunning example of the power of humor, and the power of parable.”
  • 19:37
    Now playing
    Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
    “A brilliant talk that uses a series of entertaining stories and examples, backed by scientific research, to change our view of freedom and choice. Persuasiveness at its finest.”
  • 21:16
    Now playing
    Dan Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness," challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.
    “A masterclass in explanation. See how Dan builds the concept of synthesized happiness from simple elements, fueled all the way by curiosity and humor.”
  • 15:26
    Now playing
    Starting with the simple tale of an ant, philosopher Dan Dennett unleashes a devastating salvo of ideas, making a powerful case for the existence of memes — concepts that are literally alive.
    “This is the first talk I ever brought to the TED stage. The discussion of memes is riveting, but don’t miss Dan’s quick aside on the secret of happiness!”
  • 17:43
    Now playing
    Bill Stone, a maverick cave explorer who has plumbed Earth’s deepest abysses, discusses his efforts to mine lunar ice for space fuel and to build an autonomous robot for studying Jupiter’s moon Europa.
    “This talk features an unexpectedly powerful ending: the power of a speaker’s personal commitment.”
  • 20:31
    Now playing
    Deborah Gordon studies ant colonies in the Arizona desert to understand their complex social system. She asks: How do these chitinous creatures get down to business — and even multitask when they need to — with no language, memory or visible leadership? Her answers could lead to a better understanding of all complex systems, from the brain to the Web. Thanks, ants.
    “Deborah describes scientific explanation as taking people on a journey. Each step has to be a relatively simple one. Her talk shows how.”
  • 19:15
    Now playing
    Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical and even obscene, given Iraq and Darfur, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence.
    “Here’s a terrific example of a speaker seeking to change our minds about something. Most people assume the world is getting worse. Steve Pinker brilliantly challenges that assumption using intuition pumps, questioning our assumptions, and through the sheer power of reason. Watch and prepare to have your world view permanently altered.”
  • 23:34
    Now playing
    Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.
  • 22:18
    Now playing
    Surgeon and author Sherwin Nuland discusses the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression — including his own. It’s a moving and heartfelt talk about relief, redemption and second chances.
    “A stunning example of the power of vulnerability. What begins as erudite history of electroshock therapy shifts course dramatically in a heart-stopping moment.”
  • 12:55
    Now playing
    Chris Anderson gave this talk in 2002, prior to taking over leadership of TED. Co-founder Richard Saul Wurman was leaving, and TED's future was in the balance. He seeks to persuade TEDsters that what was then a for-profit conference had a secure future as an idea-based nonprofit endeavor.
    “As I describe in the book, this is a deeply flawed talk for many reasons. Yet it was successful in persuading the TED community to support the transition to a non-profit after years of leadership by its high-profile founder Richard Saul Wurman. An underlying idea matters a lot more than charisma!”
  • 13:20
    Now playing
    With vibrant video clips captured by submarines, David Gallo takes us to some of Earth's darkest, most violent, toxic and beautiful habitats, the valleys and volcanic ridges of the oceans' depths, where life is bizarre, resilient and shockingly abundant.
    “Fantastic example of the ‘wonder walk’ style of talk. Or in this case, a wonder dive.”
  • 19:09
    Now playing
    Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.
    “A great example of how you can use story-telling to persuade people to see things a little differently. ”
  • 18:14
    Now playing
    Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria "talk" to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry — and our understanding of ourselves.
    “A fantastic example of how a scientific talk can hold a general audience riveted. Watch and marvel.”
  • 18:36
    Now playing
    Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.
    “Look how quickly Dan connects with the audience. A self-deprecating opening paves the way to a powerfully argued masterpiece.”
  • 19:56
    Now playing
    Talking at the US State Department this summer, Hans Rosling uses his fascinating data-bubble software to burst myths about the developing world. Look for new analysis on China and the post-bailout world, mixed with classic data shows.
  • 16:38
    Now playing
    For tens of thousands of years our ancestors understood the world through myths, and the pace of change was glacial. The rise of scientific understanding transformed the world within a few centuries. Why? Physicist David Deutsch proposes a subtle answer.
  • 21:53
    Now playing
    Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, West Virginia — and a shocking image of the sugar we eat — TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.
    “An opening sentence that perfectly sets up the talk, which also includes some spectacular visual aids!”
  • 16:48
    Now playing
    The LXD (the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) electrify the TED2010 stage with an emerging global street-dance culture, revved up by the Internet. In a preview of Jon Chu's upcoming Web series, this astonishing troupe show off their superpowers.
    “This incredible performance sparked in me the realization that “crowd accelerated innovation” was everywhere in the post YouTube world, including the world of public speaking. A great example of how ideas often emerge when you bring together different disciplines.”
  • 17:45
    Now playing
    People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web.
  • 20:19
    Now playing
    Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.
    “Brené describes how you can turn vulnerability from a weakness to a strength. Her message applies powerfully to public speaking — and she demonstrates it here in her humble, likable opening.”
  • 17:43
    Now playing
    We think of space as a silent place. But physicist Janna Levin says the universe has a soundtrack — a sonic composition that records some of the most dramatic events in outer space. (Black holes, for instance, bang on spacetime like a drum.) An accessible and mind-expanding soundwalk through the universe.
    “Another great curiosity-inspiring opening.”
  • 17:40
    Now playing
    Backed by stunning illustrations, David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Internet, in a riveting 18 minutes. This is "Big History": an enlightening, wide-angle look at complexity, life and humanity, set against our slim share of the cosmic timeline.
  • 6:19
    Now playing
    Plenty of robots can fly — but none can fly like a real bird. That is, until Markus Fischer and his team at Festo built SmartBird, a large, lightweight robot, modeled on a seagull, that flies by flapping its wings. A soaring demo fresh from TEDGlobal 2011.
    “An astonishing demo. Remember to give audiences a hit of where you’re heading at the start!”
  • 16:57
    Now playing
    In the 1970s, Diana Nyad set long-distance swim records that are still unbroken. Thirty years later, at 60, she attempted her longest swim yet, from Cuba to Florida. In this funny, powerful talk at TEDMED, she talks about how to prepare mentally to achieve an extreme dream, and asks: What will YOU do with your wild, precious life?
    “Another extraordinary talk with an even more extraordinary ending, and one that Diana delivered on. Commitment personified.”
  • 23:41
    Now playing
    In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.
    “It’s challenging to deliver a talk on a hard topic. Bryan began with an irresistible story and moved on to express the issues he’s spent his life working on in exquisitely argued language. The result, the longest standing ovation in TED’s history — and the spontaneous raising of more than $1m to support his work, money he never asked for.”
  • 21:02
    Now playing
    Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that "power posing" — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident — can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success. NOTE: Some of the findings presented in this talk have been referenced in an ongoing debate among social scientists about robustness and reproducibility. Read "Criticisms & updates" below for more details as well as Amy Cuddy's response.
    “Amy’s hit talk is a wondrous mix of personal storytelling, scientific explanation and usable advice. ”
  • 17:09
    Now playing
    When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.
    “A well told story can pave the way to sharing the idea you care about. Ernesto’s powerful opening is a marvel.”
  • 13:47
    Now playing
    Don't make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.
    “To create this talk, Amanda had to cut numerous elements she wanted to include. The result is a beautifully crafted narrative complete with satisfying ending.”
  • 18:54
    Now playing
    Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world.
    “An extraordinary feat of persuasion, this. Dan challenges every aspect of how we think about nonprofits. His use of reason, backed by powerful graphics, and the technique of showing the absurdity of counter positions, combine for a breathtaking piece of rhetoric.”
  • 18:19
    Now playing
    There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That's the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.
    “Larry Lessig has developed his own unique style of public speaking based on breathtaking use of hundreds of elegant text slides that exactly sync with what he’s saying. Amazing to see.”
  • 7:48
    Now playing
    Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don't like.'" A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.
    “Speakers who end with a truly inspiring message usually do so because they have lived what they speak about. Rita is no exception. Tragically, she passed away a few months after delivering this beautiful talk, but her words continue to inspire.”
  • 14:17
    Now playing
    To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn't know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.
    “You can base an entire talk on a powerful personal story as Eleanor does here. But she also draws out broader themes that can permanently shift our thinking about mental illness. The story is delivered in service to a bigger idea.”
  • 7:04
    Now playing
    Alexa Meade takes an innovative approach to art. Not for her a life of sketching and stretching canvases. Instead, she selects a topic and then paints it—literally. She covers everything in a scene—people, chairs, food, you name it—in a mask of paint that mimics what's below it. In this eye-opening talk Meade shows off photographs of some of the more outlandish results, and shares a new project involving people, paint and milk.
    “Artists can also open their talks with immediate impact as Alexa does here. A single image and a surprising statement about her technique compel us to watch more.”
  • 14:28
    Now playing
    Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.
    “Look at the incredible way Kelly connects with the audience right from the opening minute. Eye contact, smiles, and an intriguingly framed opening make it impossible not to continue watching.”
  • 15:10
    Now playing
    Wolves were once native to the US' Yellowstone National Park — until hunting wiped them out. But when, in 1995, the wolves began to come back (thanks to an aggressive management program), something interesting happened: the rest of the park began to find a new, more healthful balance. In a bold thought experiment, George Monbiot imagines a wilder world in which humans work to restore the complex, lost natural food chains that once surrounded us.
    “Focus on how George uses his voice in this talk. It evokes curiosity and connection at every step, dramatically boosting the power of the words.”
  • 14:37
    Now playing
    In the past three decades, says Michael Sandel, the US has drifted from a market economy to a market society; it's fair to say that an American's experience of shared civic life depends on how much money they have. (Three key examples: access to education, access to justice, political influence.) In a talk and audience discussion, Sandel asks us to think honestly on this question: In our current democracy, is too much for sale?
    “Another great example of how to set up your talk. From the opening paragraph, you’re intrigued.”
  • 14:13
    Now playing
    "I have cerebral palsy. I shake all the time," Maysoon Zayid announces at the beginning of this exhilarating, hilarious talk. (Really, it's hilarious.) "I'm like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali." With grace and wit, the Arab-American comedian takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her adventures as an actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled.
    “A stunning opening to this talk from a remarkable comedian. Great inspiration to anyone to ‘start strong!'”
  • 15:24
    Now playing
    Here's a TED first: an animated Socratic dialog! In a time when irrationality seems to rule both politics and culture, has reasoned thinking finally lost its power? Watch as psychologist Steven Pinker is gradually, brilliantly persuaded by philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein that reason is actually the key driver of human moral progress, even if its effect sometimes takes generations to unfold. The dialog was recorded live at TED, and animated, in incredible, often hilarious, detail by Cognitive.
    “This talk comes in the form of a Socratic dialog, making a passionate case as to why reason’s reach can stretch across decades or centuries. The animation’s fantastic too.”
  • 13:14
    Now playing
    In this fascinating, hilarious and ever-so-slightly creepy talk, science writer Ed Yong tells the story of his favorite parasites — animals and organisms that live on the bodies (and brains!) of other organisms, causing them to do their bidding. Do humans have them too? Maybe ...
    “The sparking of curiosity is the key to so many talks. Ed Yong shows the way right from the opening sequence.”
  • 20:27
    Now playing
    Writer Andrew Solomon has spent his career telling stories of the hardships of others. Now he turns inward, bringing us into a childhood of adversity, while also spinning tales of the courageous people he's met in the years since. In a moving, heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.
    “Here’s a fantastic example of a talk delivered in lyrical language more typically found in writing than in speech. Most speaking coaches encourage a ‘spoken English’ style, but for a great writer, this approach can have extraordinary impact.”
  • 9:10
    Now playing
    If you’re raised on dogma and hate, can you choose a different path? Zak Ebrahim was just seven years old when his father helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His story is shocking, powerful and, ultimately, inspiring.
    “An extraordinarily powerful talk with a dramatic opening.”
  • 17:40
    Now playing
    Brain imaging pioneer Nancy Kanwisher, who uses fMRI scans to see activity in brain regions (often her own), shares what she and her colleagues have learned: The brain is made up of both highly specialized components and general-purpose "machinery." Another surprise: There's so much left to learn.
  • 17:04
    Now playing
    This year, explorer Ben Saunders attempted his most ambitious trek yet. He set out to complete Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s failed 1912 polar expedition — a four-month, 1,800-mile round trip journey from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. In the first talk given after his adventure, just five weeks after his return, Saunders offers a raw, honest look at this “hubris”-tinged mission that brought him to the most difficult decision of his life.
    “A story with a surprise conclusion. Ben’s honesty and courage offer life lessons to anyone, explorer or otherwise.”
  • 20:34
    Now playing
    As humans, we can perceive less than a ten-trillionth of all light waves. "Our experience of reality," says neuroscientist David Eagleman, "is constrained by our biology." He wants to change that. His research into our brain processes has led him to create new interfaces — such as a sensory vest — to take in previously unseen information about the world around us.
    “David blew our minds with an expanded sense of what the human brain is capable of. ”
  • 22:26
    Now playing
    "Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop," says Monica Lewinsky. In 1998, she says, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become constant — and can turn deadly. In a brave talk, she takes a hard look at our online culture of humiliation, and asks for a different way.
    “Monica overcame intense fear to give a fantastic talk. It’s delivered with her full notes on a music stand, but nonetheless, she achieves strong audience connection and delivered a powerful message about cyber-bullying. On her script she had scribbled “THIS MATTERS”.”
  • 17:04
    Now playing
    Did you know that you're 30 times more likely to laugh if you're with somebody else than if you're alone? Cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott shares this and other surprising facts about laughter in this fast-paced, action-packed and, yes, hilarious dash through the science of cracking up.
    “The key to a great talk is to transfer an idea that matters. Sophie’s hilarious talk does just that, giving us insight into the social purpose of laughter.”
  • 16:04
    Now playing
    In the United States, two institutions guide teenagers on the journey to adulthood: college and prison. Sociologist Alice Goffman spent six years in a troubled Philadelphia neighborhood and saw first-hand how teenagers of African-American and Latino backgrounds are funneled down the path to prison — sometimes starting with relatively minor infractions. In an impassioned talk she asks, "Why are we offering only handcuffs and jail time?"
    “Another terrific example of how to give your talk a powerful through-line. College vs jail!”
  • 10:17
    Now playing
    You've never seen buildings like this. The stunning bamboo homes built by Elora Hardy and her team in Bali twist, curve and surprise at every turn. They defy convention because the bamboo itself is so enigmatic. No two poles of bamboo are alike, so every home, bridge and bathroom is exquisitely unique. In this beautiful, immersive talk, she shares the potential of bamboo, as both a sustainable resource and a spark for the imagination. "We have had to invent our own rules," she says.
    “A design talk packed with glorious images and a compelling opening. Who would have thought a talk about building from bamboo would become such a hit? It’s all in the execution.”
  • 21:31
    Now playing
    Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. But does it have to be? Relationship therapist Esther Perel examines why people cheat, and unpacks why affairs are so traumatic: because they threaten our emotional security. In infidelity, she sees something unexpected — an expression of longing and loss. A must-watch for anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on, or who simply wants a new framework for understanding relationships.
    “A great, provocative talk with a brilliant ending.”
  • 18:18
    Now playing
    Roman Mars is obsessed with flags — and after you watch this talk, you might be, too. These ubiquitous symbols of civic pride are often designed, well, pretty terribly. But they don't have to be. In this surprising and hilarious talk about vexillology — the study of flags — Mars reveals the five basic principles of flag design and shows why he believes they can be applied to just about anything.
    “A great example of talk innovation. Roman live-mixed it using pre-recorded audio clips, turning a parade of city flags into a hilarious, and compelling argument for better design.”
  • 17:11
    Now playing
    Twitter gives a voice to the voiceless, a way to speak up and hit back at perceived injustice. But sometimes, says Jon Ronson, things go too far. In a jaw-dropping story of how one un-funny tweet ruined a woman's life and career, Ronson shows how online commenters can end up behaving like a baying mob — and says it's time to rethink how we interact online.
    “A powerful talk with a succinct ending!”
  • 7:55
    Now playing
    There's no single formula for a great talk, but there is a secret ingredient that all the best ones have in common. TED curator Chris Anderson shares this secret — along with four ways to make it work for you. Do you have what it takes to share an idea worth spreading?
    “Here’s a quick summary of some of the key points in the book — shot in an experimental style. Huge innovation is possible in ‘direct to camera’ talks.”
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