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11 Ted Talks To Inspire You To Change The World

11 Ted Talks To Inspire You To Change The World

Each one of us can do something to change the world. But we all need to find our passion, a motivation inside of us to take us through the journey of making small but continuous changes. After watching these TED talks, you will feel inspired and ready to start thinking about how you can change the world.

1. Muhammad Yunus: A History of Microfinance

Takeaway: All human beings are entrepreneurs and work together to change our lives.

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi civil society leader who has created a bank that does the opposite of conventional banks: Going to poor women, living in villages, dismissing guarantors, and being the only lawyer-free bank in the world. And it works.

This video is extremely insightful, giving ideas of how things can be done differently with social business. If you don’t have time to watch it all, just jump to 2:37 and watch up to 10:30 for great inspiration.

2. Sam Berns: My Philosophy for a Happy Life

Takeaway: Don’t let anything stop you from chasing your dreams.

Sam Berns is a highly inspirational 17-year-old guy whose disease (Progeria) hasn’t deterred him from chasing his dreams. He has a philosophy based on three simple and straight-forward beliefs. Watching this video will change the way you look at the world and will inspire you to follow his philosophy of life.

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If you don’t have time to watch the the whole thing, don’t miss it from minute 8 until the end.

3.  Artika Renee Tyner: Education for Social Change

Takeaway: What is in your hands to change the world?

Dr. Artika Renee Tyner is a passionate educator and advocate for justice. In her talk, she invites you to reimagine education focusing on leadership development and social justice advocacy. She shares her experience of transforming the classroom into a learning laboratory where students experiment by applying their technical training to address the social justice challenges of our time.

4. Leana Wen: What your doctor won’t disclose

Takeaway: Being totally transparent is scary, but that vulnerability can be an extraordinary benefit to the practice of medicine.

Doctor Leana Wen has found throughout her career uncountable situations where patients have been affected by their doctor’s conflict of interest. She decided to change the paradigms of medicine by making it more personal and transparent. In her talk, she tells her own inspirational story and how it has influenced her professional beliefs, helping her to change the way patients interact with their doctors and removing the fear and mistrust they had before.

5. Manu Prakash: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami

Takeaway: Revolutionise healthcare in developing countries and turn almost anything into a fun, hands-on science experiment.

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Manu Prakash and his team have created a 50 cent microscope made of paper and extremely easy to fold and use. He wants to spread it out to all developing countries and talks about the connexion between hands-on science education and global health.

6. Jorge Soto: The future of early cancer detection?

Takeaway: The way we see cancer will radically change. We will be able to detect any type of cancer in its early stages.

Jorge Soto and a team of scientists have created a platform to try to tackle one of humanity’s toughest challenges. They believe that early cancer detention should be entirely possible.

“This is a single, non-invasive, accurate, and affordable test that has the potential to dramatically change how cancer’s procedures and their diagnostics have been done”. “You only need one milliliter of blood and a relatively simple array of tools.”

7. Anne Milgram: Why smart statistics are the key to fighting crime

Takeaway: Data-driven decisions can make the public safer by improving the criminal justice system.

Anne Milgram passionately explains how she came up with an idea for a tool that would improve the criminal justice system in the US. She couldn’t find out some simple information: who was being arrested, who was being charged, and who was being put in jail. Her tool not only used data to work these things out, but also helps to forecast who will commit crime again.

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8. John Paul Flintoff: How to change the world

Takeaway: Making small changes in your own life will change the world.

John Paul Flintoff explains how making small but meaningful changes in our own lives will have an impact on other people’s lives and turn into a human butterfly effect. His talk will encourage you to stop thinking about the end result of the things you do and start thinking about the process. This way, you liberate yourself from the pressure and enjoy every step.  And small steps give you courage to move on to the next small step.

He also gives some inspirational examples of people he has interviewed and his own small steps towards changing the world to show how it doesn’t need to be something difficult.

9. JR: Use art to turn the world inside out

Takeaway: Art is not supposed to change the world, but it can change perceptions.

Do not miss this inspirational visual talk by street artist JR who has travelled the world spreading his passion for art and photography. He presents different projects in developing countries where he gets the communities involved and makes people’s stories travel with him.

10. Lee Mun Wah: The secret to changing the world

Takeaway: We are going to have to walk through our fears to see another world.

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Lee Mun Wah transmits calmness and security though his speech while driving you though his understanding of cross-cultural communication and awareness. The Chinese American filmmaker, educator, and therapist explains how the secret to changing the world is that “each and every one of us has to take the time to walk each other home.”

11. Willemijn Verloop: Changing the world through social entrepreneurship

Takeaway: You can contribute to changing the world if you dare to be a bit more unreasonable.

After watching this inspirational talk, you will understand how you can contribute to making a social change. You don’t need to start your own social enterprise, but you can commit to different causes as a customer, as an investor, or by helping to find new solutions. Stop being reasonable and start seeing opportunities instead of intangible problems.

Featured photo credit: World In Your Hands via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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