Sally presenting to TEDx crowd

Ted Talks Watchlist

TED Talks…

Aw, the iconic and sought-after TED Talk. They have revolutionized the speaking world, and opened it up to thought leaders of all stripes. And they’re on the bucket-list of EVERY speaker I know! 

Here are some greatest hits on TED Talks – including some of my favorite TED Talks of all time!

TED Talks Worth Watching: 

1. Brené Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

Brené’s talk is funny, real, and contains powerful ideas that started a revolution of sorts. (As a culture, we’re talking about the power and need for vulnerability mostly because of her.) I love this talk because she is LIVING the struggle she shares, and is leading the way for us. Her delivery is grounded. Her ideas are also exactly what we need to be doing as speakers and leaders, so if you haven’t yet watched this talk, it’s a MUST. 

P.s. She’s my HERO, can you tell?

2. Jill Bolte-Taylor – My Stroke of Insight

Jill Bolte-Taylor’s talk is one of those that I think about a lot because it breaks many of the rules and leaves you feeling a little breathless. It’s an experience, from beginning to end. What I love about this talk is that Jill is uniquely herself – truly brave in relaying her story, moment to moment, in a vivid way. She doesn’t have a “perfect” delivery, and is not a traditional “speaker” in the many ways we think. She is an academic that was pushed into an emotive realm – and we see both sides of her brain come alive in real time. It’s a really remarkable talk. Please tell me you’ve seen it!

3. Hans Rosling: The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen

This is an oldie, but a goodie. What I love about it is how he has turned STATS into an emotive journey, into an experience, into a story – and an exciting one at that. It turns ‘information’ into emotive reality – which is exactly what we need to do. I also love that his delivery is totally different from most others… there’s room for everyone up there! 

(Here’s a whole playlist of JUST his talks, if you’re really into data:

4. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Liz Gilbert is another hero of mine. (Please tell me you’ve read Big Magic! []) And this talk stands out to me because she is so grounded in her delivery, and thoughtful with her words. (Like all good writers!) She feels very connected to the audience, which I love. And, bonus – this is a message we all need. Sometimes the genius is in the room – and sometimes it’s not!

5. Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Aw, I’m bringing you all the classics! Ken Robinson is a beloved TED speaker because he’s both smart – AND funny. His timing is impeccable. He proves you can be entertaining and bring something serious to the forefront at the same time.

6. Sally Zimney: Be an Un-Speaker

I couldn’t not include my own talk on this list! Have you watched it yet? It’s a great peek into my belief that EVERYONE can be a powerful speaker. The rules aren’t set (and if they are, let’s break them). There’s room for your unique voice. And the world needs to hear what you have to say. So – let’s be un-speakers!

7. Julian Treasure: How to Speak So that People Will Listen

I had to include my friend Julian on this list! (I like to think of us as friends, since he’s been on my podcast twice!) What I love about Julian’s approach is that he is intentional. Every word and movement was thought about (but not choreographed). He knows how to pull people in. Plus, he holds some really important advice for us in this talk that is one of the most-watched TED Talks of all time.

*If you want to listen to Julian on This Moved Me, check out these episodes:

50: Julian Treasure – On Talking About Talking

216: Julian Treasure


8. Ben Zander: On the Transformative Power of Classical Music

I’ve seen Ben speak live – and he’s just as rule-breaky and funny and heart-warming and joyous as you see here (even more so)! He’s an absolutely favorite speaker of mine because he smashes through the line between audience and speaker – which is very strong in the TED world. This talk made me want to listen to classical music…

9. Chimamanda Ngozi: The Danger of a Single Story

Oh, this talk is beautiful. And it reminds me that even speakers who feel tied to the podium and their notes can have an impact (even though that’s not what I coach my speakers to do)! But the STORY is so powerful in this that I can’t help but be pulled in. Plus – there’s a really important message in here for us: no one person is one thing.

10. And, in case you want to land a TED talk yourself, here are two great resources from the show for you to listen to:

  • 137: Ryan Hildebrandt: On Landing a TED Talk

My friends, TED Talks are a vast source of inspiration, ideas and insight into how we can bring our talks out into the world more. The best TED Talks aren’t just about what we know – but push to help us experience and feel their ideas through story, metaphor, and delivery. Yes? Let’s do this.