TED Talks are among the most watched videos on the Internet. Born from a 1984 conference on technology, entertainment and design (hence the acronym TED) they have grown into a multi-national phenomenon, with celebrities and the relatively unknown giving filmed speeches and presentations on topics as wide-ranging as ethics, music, art, books, marketing, history, and psychology. The one thread that connects the over 2,000 talks is that they are personal. The non-profit TED now runs talks, seminars, retreats and fellowships across the world with one mission: to facilitate the spread of ideas.
Below are five top TED talks on writing, creativity, social media, and books. These are not dry university lectures – they are among the most thought-provoking and engaging videos we’ve ever seen.
Mind-Expanding TED Talk
1. Andrew Fitzgerald – Adventures in Twitter Fiction
Length: Under 12 Minutes
Fitzgerald is a member of the News and Journalism Partnerships team at Twitter, meaning he sees a whole lot of Tweets. He explores the way new media can be used creatively — not just for communicating, but for writing. His emphasis is on timely, almost ephemeral fiction and on collaborative storytelling. Will the 140-character Tweet become a new art form? And how can writers use the Twitter platform for self expression?
Funny TED Talk:
2. Elizabeth Gilbert – Your Elusive Creative Genius
Length: Under 20 Minutes
In this funny, moving, and illuminating talk, author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) sets forth a revolutionary idea: geniuses aren’t scarce commodities. We are ALL creative geniuses, and that fact is evident if we know how to access the hidden creative genius in all of our brains. Gilbert explores the beliefs about creativity from the past, links them to how writers work, and debunks the myth that creativity is linked to mental illness.
Inspiring TED Talk:
3. Neil Pasricha: The 3 A’s of Awesome
Length: Under 18 Minutes
Optimism blogger Pasricha discusses how tragedies in his own life, from divorce to suicide, impacted his mental health and how his search for meaning in the midst of sadness led him to create the wildly popular blog “1000 Awesome Things,” and then go on to write a bestselling book called The Book of Awesome. In this funny and deeply moving TED talk, he explains how to find meaning and happiness in life by learning and living the 3 A’s: Attitude, Awareness, and Authenticity.
Courageous TED Talk:
4. Zak Ebrahim: I am the Son of a Terrorist. Here’s How I Chose Peace.
Length: Under 10 Minutes
Author Zak Ebrahim’s father planned and implemented the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, which killed 6 people. In this TED talk, Ebrahim explores how someone raised with rage, prejudice, and violence can transform and discusses his hope that his book, The Terrorist’s Son, will help lead others away from a path of hatred.
Must-Watch TED Talk:
5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
Length: Under 19 Minutes
Nigerian Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose books Half of a Yellow Sun and We Should All be Feminists, are perennial bestsellers, discusses the power of stories and of books, and explores how reading the stories of others help expand readers’ experiences and minds. This is a remarkable, moving, and eye-opening talk for all writers. It is at once a celebration of the power of literature and a warning against writing with a fixed idea or stereotype. The talk covers power, gender, publishing and the importance of telling a story.