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20 of the Most Inspiring and Most Popular TED Talks Ever

Written by Maya Elious
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TED talks are amazing resources for anyone looking to further their knowledge and self-education. On TED, you can find talks on anything from strange animals of the ocean to how to boost your creativity to up-and-coming technologies. While there are many high-quality, inspiring TED talks, we’ve collected the most popular TED talks here to get you started.

1. How to live passionately–no matter your age

No. of views: 3,725,288

Isabel Allende, a Chilean author who has written masterpieces such as The House of the Spirits and City of the Beasts, gives an incredible perspective on how to live your life in this inspiring TED talk. She argues that, regardless of how old you are, you have the choice to live passionately on your own terms.

2. The danger of a single story

No. of views: 25,879,348

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian novelist, motivates everyone to listen to stories outside of their comfort zone and warns of the dangers of a critical misunderstanding if we hear only a single story about another person or country. In one of the most popular TED talks of all time, Adichie will inspire you to befriend those who are different from you and open your mind to the unfamiliar.

3. The puzzle of motivation

No. of views: 26,784,055

In this insightful TED talk, Dan Pink, a New York Times bestselling author, talks about how incentive design doesn’t spark creativity. Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Watch here to learn about what kind of motivation can be most effective in inspiring change.

4. The power of vulnerability

No. of views: 51,851,713

In one of the most popular TED talks ever, Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, argues that the ability to feel connected is what makes us feel alive. She teaches us that “shame” is the fear of disconnection, which results in our vulnerability and how we must embrace it if we want to live a full life.

5. How great leaders inspire action

No. of views: 53,434,379

British-American author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek shares how great leaders inspire others to take action through one very simple question: Why?


6. Your body language may shape who you are

No. of views: 60,239,527

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, bestselling author, and award-winning Harvard lecturer, discusses the ways we use body language to change the way our life unfolds. She argues that a “power pose” can boost feelings of confidence despite our self-doubt.

7. Do schools kill creativity?

No. of views: 69,448,842

New York Times bestselling author Sir Ken Robinson discusses how children’s creativity is educated out of them. There needs to be an education system that nurtures rather than undermines creativity, he argues. This is ranked as one of the most popular TED talks not only for the quality of the information but for Robinson’s gift of entertaining while delivering that information.

8. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance

No. of views: 22,563,726

Angela Lee Duckworth, an American academic, shares insight from her research and show how passion and perseverance can outweigh high IQs when it comes to success in this short TED talk. Her experience with this concept came from a job she took teaching math to seventh graders.

9. Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

No. of views: 47,243,889

In this poignant, funny talk, Tim Urban discusses his habit of procrastination and challenges viewers to reflect on what they’re really procrastinating on before they run out of time to get to what’s really important. The humor and inspiring information Urban offers makes this one of the most popular TED talks ever.

10. What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

No. of views: 36,825,982

In this life-altering TED talk, Robert Waldinger, an American psychologist and professor at Harvard, discusses a 75-year-old study[1] on adult development that revealed some secrets on how to be happy. He offers some practical guidance on how to live a fulfilling life that every viewer will find useful.

11. The art of misdirection

No. of views: 28,923,538

Recognized as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins uses a hilarious demonstration to show how easy it is to use human perception against individuals. Be careful; he just might swipe something while you’re not looking.


12. The next outbreak? We’re not ready

No. of views: 39,741,403

This TED talk by Bill Gates seems especially insightful against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of what Gates discusses is being lived by people all around the world. This has been one of the most popular TED talks for years, and with good reason, it seems. Gates suggests ways that we can continue to plan for outbreaks and pandemics in this informative, inspiring talk.

13. The happy secret to better work

No. of views: 23,249,641

Shawn Achor, an American author and advocate of positive psychology, gives a hilarious speech on the psychology of positivity and how happiness is what makes us work productively.

14. How to spot a liar

No. of views: 30,200,822

Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and “hotspots” used by those trained to recognize deception. She argues that honesty is a value worth preserving and recognizing in one of the most popular TED talks of all time.

15. Your elusive creative genius

No. of views: 20,003,126

Elizabeth Gilbert, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, believes that instead of being a genius, we each have a creative genius inside of us. Unfortunately, she says, we often get in our own way, blocking our creative genius from showing its true abilities.

16. The surprising science of happiness

No. of views: 19,370,111

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert argues that we can feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned. This is a great talk for anyone facing difficult challenges or hardship in life.

17. My stroke of insight

No. of views: 27,336,874

Jill Bolte Taylor, an American neuroanatomist, got an opportunity many brain scientists never hope to have: she had a massive stroke that allowed her to watch as her brain functions—motion, speech, self-awareness—shut down one by one. In one of the most popular TED talks of all time, Taylor shares deep insights into how our brains work, and just how fragile they really are.


18. Strange answers to the psychopath test

No. of views: 26,742,197

Jon Ronson, a Welsh-American journalist, author, and filmmaker, dives into what it really means to be crazy and sane and just how thick the line between them really is. This lively and eye-opening talk may have you questioning whether you have a little psychopath in you, too.

19. The power of introverts

No. of views: 27,852,382

In this insightful TED talk, Susan Cain, an American writer and lecturer, argues that introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world that should be celebrated instead of shunned. If you’re an introvert, you’ll come away from this talk feeling deeply understood. If you’re an extrovert, you’ll come away with a newfound appreciation for those who don’t think the same way as you.

20. How to make stress your friend

No. of views: 25,706,979

In this inspiring TED talk, Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, makes the case that we should stop seeing stress as an enemy and instead see it as a positive part of our lives. She argues that reaching out to others can be the best way to deal with stressful situations.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for inspiration, the most popular TED talks of all time can help. Each of these talks will inspire you to think or act differently. If you’re seeking a more open-mind and want to understand humanity a bit more, these speakers will get you there.

More Inspiring TED Talks

Featured photo credit: Miguel Henriques via unsplash.com


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