17 Inspirational TED Talks For Public Speakers

July 20, 2018
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What makes a great talk? How do you overcome your fear of public speaking? What’s the best way to deliver a technical presentation? These 17 TED Talks will inspire, educate and challenge you to become a better speaker and presentation creator.

Ranging from practical tips from experienced public speakers and presentation creators to body language good case practices, scientific advice and creative thinking pointers, these talks are sure to help you deliver better presentations. We’ve included talks related to understanding attention and learning how to capture it, mindfulness techniques to help you prepare before a presentation, tech hacks to help you save time and even a talk on a speaker’s worst nightmare coming true (don’t miss this one).

Let us know in the comments what other TED Talks inspired you to become better and strive for more in your career or in your day-to-day life.

1. The secret structure of great talks

Nancy Duarte is a communication expert and CEO of Duarte, Inc. She is the author of 4 books, which include, Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences and  Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations.

In this talk, she shares practical lessons on how to make a powerful call-to-action through your presentation.

2. How to speak so that people want to listen

Julian Treasure is the chair of the Sound Agency, a firm that advises worldwide businesses on how to design sound in their physical spaces and communication.

In this talk, the sound expert demonstrates the how-to’s of powerful speaking — from some handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy.

3. Your body language may shape who you are

Social psychologist and bestselling author Dr. Amy Cuddy teaches leadership at Harvard, earned her PhD from Princeton University and has served on the faculties of Harvard Business School and Northwestern University.

Sparking an entire industry debate, her “power posing” theory suggests that 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.

4. TED’s secret to great public speaking

Chris Anderson is actually the Curator of TED. He is the man who built the TED stage that has become a place for thinkers and doers from all fields to share their ideas and their work, capturing imaginations, sparking conversation and encouraging discovery along the way.

Listen to his talk to see if you have what it takes to present an idea worth spreading.

5. Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking

Megan Washington is an Australian singer who won two ARIA Awards, the Australian equivalent of the Grammys. A popular singer and songwriter, she struggles with a speech impediment.

Listen to her talk about coping with this speech impediment—from avoiding the letter combination “st” to tricking her brain by changing her words at the last minute to, yes, singing the things she has to say rather than speaking them.

6. Talk nerdy to me

Melissa Marshall is a faculty member with the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State University. She believes that the future depends on the innovations of scientists and engineers, and is passionate about helping them effectively tell the story of their work.

In this talk, she shares powerful tips on presenting complex scientific ideas to a general audience.

7. The hidden power of smiling

Ron Gutman is the founder and former CEO of HealthTap, free mobile and online apps for health info. He’s also the organizer of TEDxSiliconValley.

After reviewing a raft of studies about smiling, he reveals some surprising results in this talk.

8. How to build your creative confidence

David Kelley is the founder of IDEO, a company recognized for creating many icons of the digital generation. His pursuit for unlocking the creative potential of people and organizations to innovate routinely is well reflected in this video.

Listen to David as he explains that creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create.

9. The surprising habits of original thinkers

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist and the host of the TED original podcast WorkLife, which delves inside unconventional workplaces to explore the ideas we can all use to make work more meaningful and creative.

In this talk, Adam looks at how creative people come up with great ideas and what actions they take to put them into the world.

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10. All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of Headspace, a project to make meditation more accessible to more people in their everyday lives.

Listen to him describe the transformative power of refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment.

11. On being wrong

Kathryn Schulz is a journalist, author, and public speaker claiming to be the world’s leading wrongologist. She is the author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.

Her talk will help you admit but embrace your fallibility, a much needed skill for many speakers and idea creators.

12. Success, failure and the drive to keep creating

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of bestselling and deeply beloved memoir Eat, Pray, Love, about her process of finding herself by leaving home. She’s also a longtime magazine writer, covering music and politics for Spin and GQ, as well as a short-story writer.

Her talk looks into why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.

13. Smash fear, learn anything

I’m sure many of you already know this but, for the record, Tim Ferriss is an early-stage technology investor/advisor to startups like Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and the author of four #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, including The 4-Hour Workweek.

Get inspired by his anecdotes on “What’s the worst that could happen?”.

14. Why I keep speaking up, even when people mock my accent

Safwat Saleem is a Pakistani-American visual artist, graphic designer and filmmaker. He’s best known for making politically-charged satirical art. He grew up with a stutter, but as an independent animator, he decided to do his own voiceovers to give life to his characters.

In this talk, he explains how he recovered his voice and confidence after being mocked for his accent.

15. A TED speaker’s worst nightmare

Colin Robertson is a young entrepreneur with a single, world-changing idea: crowdsource solar energy solutions to the global climate crisis. He is a passionate believer in the idea that we can solve all of our problems by coming together in groups.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety about public speaking or have imagined scenarios where every possible thing goes wrong, you don’t want to miss this talk.

16. 10 top time-saving tech tips

David Pogue is the personal technology columnist for the New York Times and a tech correspondent for CBS News. He’s also one of the world’s bestselling how-to authors, with titles in the For Dummies series and his own line of “Missing Manual” books.

In this talk, David shares 10 simple, clever tips for computer, web, smartphone and camera users.

17. How I beat stage fright

Lastly, we have Joe Kowan, a Boston-based musician and graphic designer who has been struggling with stage fright since he first started writing songs at age 27. Despite his adorably expressed fears, he charms audiences with his own style of quirky folk and acoustic hip-hop.

Get inspired by his story of conquering his public speaking fear.


That’s it for our curated list, don’t forget to share your favorite TED Talk in the comments below.


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