TED Talks. You are either more than aware they exist or you’ve never heard of them. I have never met someone who is in between. My first experience of TED came through work where, working in a higher educational setting, it was impossible to go a day without hearing the word uttered at least once.

For a while I avoided watching them, partially out of defiance (don’t you tell me what I should be watching, Dr Academic) and partially because they were surely going to induce boredom levels akin to the University Lectures that used to be aired around Christmas on the beeb. No? Just me? God, I feel old.

Anyway, eventually I succumbed (this was a decision based purely on boredom levels and not at all because I was told to watch them), and what followed was almost life changing. In the same way that learning you’ve been mis-singing a song lyric for half of your life; it’s odd, it feels funny and you kind of like it whilst hating it at the same time. Screw you conformity.

I gently dipped my toe into the TED pool and found the effect rather like YouTube. The first video I watched was about cloning dinosaurs and somehow two hours later I was sat watching a woman talk about being a model. This was 6 months ago and now I can’t think of a week where I haven’t watched at least one talk. It’s a real rabbit hole. There’s a video about every subject you could hope for. They are funny, sad (definitely not sat crying at my desk at work while listening to a video before, nope), inprising, empowering and, above all, challenging.

The whole point of TED is to get you thinking. It’s an opportunity to get a fresh perspective and to get you questioning your own. And I love that.

The TED tag line is “Ideas worth spreading”. So I’ve compiled a list of their talks to do just that; spread them. These seven videos are TED Talks that will challenge your perspective, while maybe inspiring you or giving you a sense of empowerment along the way.

So, buckle up hun, starting with a big one:

Steve Jobs – How to live before you die

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective


I know, I know, technically not a TED Talk, but they feature it so I’m counting it. Steve Jobs’ poignant talk took place six years before he sadly passed of the cancer he touches upon in the video. Far from a sad tale and a video to leave you feeling as though you are failing at life, this talk breathes a new breathe of fresh air into the concept of living life to the fullest. Whilst you have probably read this speech – or snippets of it before – it is well worth a watch. It captures the character and passion beautifully.

Scott Dinsmore – How to find work you love

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective


This video follows on beautifully from Steve Jobs’ talk. Scott Dinsmore encapsulates everything that is finding work that you love. In this talk he gives you the three things that are in your control that can help you to break from the “scripted” life you believe you should lead and help you to find your dream role in life.

Larry Smith – Why you’ll fail to have a great career

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective


But in life isn’t there always balance? Larry Smith talks about why you will fail at your great career. With dark humour this talk leads you down a path to your own conclusion and gives you a little “Oh” moment.

Reshma Saujani – Teach girls bravery, not perfection

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective


From the imperfection of the perfect dream job, to allowing imperfection Reshma Saujani gives an eye opening talk on the disproportion in the way kids are brought up and the difference gender stereotypes causes in that. This talk will make you reflect on yourself as much as it does the next generation.

Sandi Toksvig – A political party for women’s equality

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective


I love this woman. She is insightful, ballsy and hilarious to boot. This talk is everything that is the fight for equality. Charged full of inspiration and laugh out loud moments Sandi Toksvig talk will get you using your 5% thoughts whilst remaining perfectly grounded (to get that you need to watch the video, sneaky way of making you watch it, huh?).  

Kathryn Schulz – On being wrong

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective


This is by far one of my most stand out videos. It has stuck with me like glue since I first saw it. Kathryn Schulz has got me embracing being wrong rather than avoiding it, and I really think it’s something everyone should learn to do. It’s a unique concept that challenges our most deep rooted behaviour.

Elizabeth Gilbert – On genius

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective

Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk was one of the very first I ever watched and as a creative person it really struck a cord. If you’re a struggling creative, someone waiting on something creative (hello, George RR Martin? Where is our new book?!) or have a thing about one hit wonders this talk is for you.

Finally, and just because I cannot talk about TED Talks and not mention this one:

James Veitch – This is what happens when you reply to spam email

TED Talks that will challenge your perspective

Every now and then, when I’m feeling a bit sorry about life, or if I just need a good laugh, I whack this video on. I don’t know what it is about James Veitch but his ability to tell a story kills me.

Got a favourite TED Talk that challenges perspective? Let us know in the comments below.


Ted Talks

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