So, you may have overheard a couple of officemates or been at a BBQ caught in the crossfire of friends discussing a recent TED Talk. They rave about what they’ve learned about another way of paying taxes, tapping into their creative selves, understanding how genetic diseases can be cured by rewriting DNA or how deep earth microbes are going to save humanity. What exactly is this wonderland where experts share their amazing insights?
Welcome to the wonderful world of TED Talks.
So, what are TED Talks anyway?
If you’ve ever stumbled across a TED Talk or are curious about it, we’ll clue you in on a few things to give you a baseline understanding. A few of these facts might be news even to your TED t-shirt wearing friends.
Spreading free, accessible information
Firstly, TED isn’t a bloke. It stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, which was the topic of a conference held in 1984 that was the beginning of everything. Over the next 20 years, TED went from a small conference to a huge non-profit committed only to making “ideas worth spreading” (their logo and mission) accessible to everyone everywhere.
TED is free to everyone and generates its revenue through conferences that are the setting for its blockbuster Talks. It receives funds from sponsorships, licensing fees, and foundation support. It uses all of its money to produce more Talks on pretty much every topic from science to business to global issues.
Knowledge seekers can choose from over 3200 Talks in total, with 5-7 new Talks added every week.
The first TED Talks
TED Talks are ways of communicating ideas in the form of short videos, in addition to the live conferences. The first five TED Talks, free for public consumption, arrived online on June 27th, 2006. This revolutionary way of spreading ideas and inspiring watercooler conversations everywhere began with:
- Al Gore: “Averting the climate crisis”
- Hans Rosling: “The best stats you’ve ever seen”
- Majora Carter: “Greening the ghetto”
- Sir Ken Robinson: “Do schools kill creativity?”
- David Pogue: “Simplicity sells”
The Most Popular Talks… Ever
If you want to get a feel for why this method of spreading information is so popular, we recommend watching a few of the 10 most popular talks.
These took flight and had everyone buzzing with their inspiration, innovative ideas, and things people never knew they needed to know but now find invaluable.
Take a look at the top 10 to see what the global collective has said are the best Talks to watch:
- Do schools kill creativity?
- Your body language shapes who you are
- How great leaders inspire action
- The power of vulnerability
- 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm
- My stroke of insight
- Why we do what we do
- The puzzle of motivation
- The thrilling potential of sixth sense technology
- Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.
If you’re short on time, TED’s got you covered
The site, ted.com, is very user-friendly. All you have to do is search a topic or specific Talk, and it takes you right to a list of free videos to peruse until you find one that strikes your fancy. They aim for most videos to be under 18 minutes, and this duration is not picked at random.
This 18-minute target is rooted in neuroscience and how people absorb information. You’re much more likely to settle in for 18 minutes than you are for 30, and you’re going to retain the information in a way that you can ponder and later discuss.
Choose Your Own TED Adventure
Love dogs but not interested in child development? Do you want to contribute to social change but don’t really have an interest in science? TED has you covered.
When you sign up for free, you can click on topics that interest you, then more specifically what you’re looking for, like professional growth or a new perspective and BOOM! A whole page of what you should watch will pop up. You can change these interests at any time, and the search function makes the site even easier to use.
You don’t have to sign up on their site to access their Talks.
TED is a rabbit hole we look forward to getting lost in. You will too.
TEDTalks are now available through Feedsy.
Every week, for no extra cost, Feedsters can have one TEDTalk published to their FeedsyWeb to be shared on social media or included in their monthly FeedsyMail.