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20 TEDx Talks You should watch before turning 20

By Manik Rege

TED, short for ‘technology, entertainment, and design,’ is a media network that co-organizes independent talks by entrepreneurs, activists, and artists around the world. Most of the talks are available on TED’s official YouTube channel & website.

After sifting through the latest uploads, we’ve curated some speeches that every young adult should definitely give a watch. You’ll learn how to effectively navigate through the problems everyone faces in university life. So grab some popcorn, empty your mind, and enjoy your personal lineup of 20 awesome ideas worth spreading and building on…

1. If you want to achieve your goals

~ Reggie Rivers

You were told to select your university carefully because making the wrong choice would ‘ruin your entire career.’ In fact, you were probably told to take every decision with your end goals in mind.

Rivers dares to go against the conventional wisdom, explaining how you should focus your energy not on the destination but the path.

What matters is the journey and never the result. The more we focus on the outcomes, the lesser we will grow. Thus, it’s always a wise choice to dream less and act more.

2. How to magically connect with anyone

~ Brian Miller

As a student, you’ll be working on a lot of group projects in university. Almost everyone on your team is bound to have different and often contrasting opinions on how the tasks should be carried out. In the midst of this melee, you’ll have to learn to balance everyone’s expectations equally.

You’ll have to make the best decisions without hurting anyone’s feelings, a skill which requires a good understanding of how people think. This is where Miller, the young illusionist, steps in.

He opens doors to the human psyche in a rather quirky way. By the end of this video, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a magician of words…

3. How to speak so that people want to listen

~ Julian Treasure

Do you have to take great efforts to be understood clearly? Are you always finding yourself at loggerheads with the team? Have people complained that you’re boring, intimidating or just plain rude? Don’t you worry because Mr. Treasure here has simple remedies to solve all your communication problems!

All you need to do is to avoid the 7 deadly sins that only bad speakers commit: gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, lying, and dogmatism (self-centeredness). Parallelly, you can follow the four cornerstones of good communication- honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love, short for ‘H.A.I.L.’

Treasure goes on to dissect the intricacies of good vocation and ends his speech with short exercises that you can practice next time before you speak.

4. Why good leaders make you feel safe

~ Simon Sinek

Meshed with stirring anecdotes from the battlefield, Simon Senek delivers a powerful presentation on the most important quality every leader should polish first and foremost: making an effort to make all team members feel safe, trusted & valuable.

This speech manages to condense the wisdom from some of the best leadership books in less than 12 minutes. So you should definitely give it a watch and try to apply its principles to every group project you do.

5. Why comfort will ruin your life

~ Bill Eckstrom

Heard the saying, “Growth begins outside your comfort zone?” But what does that exactly mean? And does it really work? Isn’t sticking to your strengths the best strategy to succeed in life? Eckstrom breaks down the dangers of comfortable living using his theory of ‘growth rings.’

Order and predictable behavior, he notes, leads to predictable outcomes. So if you want to truly make a big impact on this world, you need to push yourself beyond the edges of what you know and like.

6. The art of being yourself

~ Caroline McHugh

Most of us disguise our true selves to fit in with the crowd. We ‘go with the flow’ to avoid judgemental stares from people who actually don’t matter at all. This deliberate masking often comes at the cost of our own peace.

Let McHugh guide you back to your buried soul with her poignant speech on the practiced art of simply embracing who you truly are.

“But how is this relevant to me and other young adults?” You ask. A comment from the YouTube upload answers that best, “People who are frightened to be themselves, will work for those who aren’t afraid.”

7. Why do we ask questions?

~ Michael “Vsauce” Stevens

Students often complain about how ‘education’ has killed their desire to learn anything outside the textbook. And it is quite true that our study systems are still evolving to fit the needs and goals of growing millennials. So how do we keep our curiosity levels high in a restrictive environment?

The YouTube guru, famously called ‘Vsauce’ has the perfect answer. In his highly engaging discussion (the puns are awful, though!), Michael elucidates the importance and technique of asking the right questions at the right place and time.

So why do opposite poles of a magnet attract each other, again? We thought you might help us find out…

8. Looks aren’t everything

~ Cameron Russell

Staring at the hot hunks and pretty gals in the hallway made me hate my body and drive it to extreme limits just to lose the flab. I stopped going out with my friends and ended up wasting a complete semester of my college life.

Fortunately, I met people who helped me regain my health and my self-confidence. I learned how important and healthy it is to love yourself for a change.

Maybe that’s why this intimate and brutally honest TED talk resonated with me on a personal level. The highly acclaimed model beautifully tackles the physical insecurities dilemmas that plague many university students today.

Of course, it’s an unfortunate truth that looks do matter but as Russel puts it, they don’t end up defining who you are.

9. Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

~ Tim Urban

Guess I’ll write the synopsis of this video tomorrow. ‘Stranger Things: Season 2’ is here. Soz, fam. Bubye. #soMeta

10. To This Day: For the bullied and beautiful

~ Shane Koyczan

They say words have the power to heal the world. Shane’s poetry certainly helps to soothe, if not fix, the wounds of those whose worlds have been torn down by bullies and trolls.

Keep tissues handy because this spoken word performance will thaw your heart and give you the greatest gift any artist could give to his audience- the gift of hope.

11. Why you will fail to have a great career

~ Larry Smith

Don’t let the title put you off. In his brutally honest style, Smith deconstructs the common excuses and mistakes that keep many from achieving their career goals.

Sometimes you just need to be punched in the face with the raw naked truth- let Smith give you the bitter medicine today.

You’ll thank us tomorrow when you follow some of his solid advice.

12. How to Change Careers when You’re Lost

~ Felicia Ricci

I know engineers from university who are working as agents for music celebrities today. I also have sleepy artist buddies from the golden years rising to the top of the corporate world as highly productive entrepreneurs of their time.

The truth is, we might’ve made plans for life but the plans life has made for us are often the opposite of what we’ve dreamt.

So how do you handle the unpredictable lemon-sour changes? Ricci teaches you how to squeeze ’em out and make sweet juice! A good companion to this talk is the book ‘Who Moved my Cheese.’ Be sure to pick it up when you get the time to read.

13. How one tweet can ruin your life

~ Jon Ronson

People like me depend on social media for our bread and butter. But even if you’re not in the digital industry like I am, you’re still largely dependant on the internet for getting most of your information.

While the web is an amazing tool for learning and growing, it can also turn out to be a nightmare if you use it carelessly.

Ronson warns youngsters about the dangers of posting everything online by narrating the ‘Justine Sacco Twitter‘ incident that destroyed the PR agent’s (how ironic!) entire career- all because of just one tweet.

While this shouldn’t scare you off the net forever, its a reminder of the scary truth- nothing you do online can be permanently erased. So choose your hashtags wisely.

14. The Power of Introverts

~ Susan Cain

Group projects and activities are designed to force us out of our comfort zones and face the crowd with confidence and creativity.

But as we pick up skills from amazing speakers and extroverts, we should also learn to harness the magical power introverted individuals possess.

Cain’s insights shed golden light into the mind of the shy fella in the corner of the room…

15. A simple way to break a bad habit

~ Judson Brewer

Whether its smoking or procrastination, bad hygiene or excessive masturbation, all of us fall prey to habits we know are harmful to our health. But despite the warnings our mind and the media blare at us all the time, we continue to laze around in the comfort these bad habits provide.

Brewer has the perfect solution to break ’em once and for all, and it’s not what you generally get in therapy ads. Its an unorthodox method but we personally like it a lot.

Does it work for you?

There’s only one way to ‘find out.’

16. Your body language may shape who you are

~ Amy Cuddy

Research shows that almost 97% communication is non-verbal. In other words, we understand and judge people more by their postures than we do by their words.

The only catch is, we aren’t aware of the effects our body language has on the delivery of our messages.

Cuddy reveals the unconscious processes in style. She provides practical advice to polish our gestures to make ourselves heard.

17. I got ninety-nine problems…palsy is just one

~ Maysoon Zayid

The next time you complain about your problems, watch this woman own her large share of woes like a boss. In her refreshing talk, Maysoon discusses how she tackles her disability with a smile on her face and hope in her heart.

There are moments in this speech that just tugged our heartstrings.

We love the way Maysoon punches back instead of getting bogged down by the challenges life has been throwing at her.

The palsy patient’s story is truly an inspiration to anyone going through tough times.

18. Saying YES! to your Weirdness

~ JP Sears

As the aphorism goes, “If you weren’t a little weird, I’d think you were a little weird.”

JP explains why it’s healthy to embrace one’s absurdity. “Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously,” he notes, “We seek approval from others and ourselves constantly and obsessively. But we lose out on the colorful life that we’ve been blessed with. All this normalcy for what?”

You show ’em, JP!

You’re the boss when it comes to dropping the truth bombs in a comical tone.

19. How to start a movement

~ Derek Sivers

Ever dreamt of starting your own movement but don’t know where exactly to begin? Sivers provides an easy method for social campaign creation using nothing but a YouTube video of drunkards dancing around.

Yes, you read that right.

In just 5 minutes, with the help of a clip featuring some crazy teenagers, Sears simplifies what looks like one of the hardest things to do in the world- changing it for good.

20. What adults can learn from kids

~ Adora Svitak

Adora is the hands down the most adorable speaker on this list. Don’t let her age misguide you into believing she’s any less talented than all our previous thinkers, though. In fact, as she argues in her snazzy speech, age isn’t and shouldn’t be a marker for an individual’s capability.

In fact, older people have more to learn from curious teenagers, as Svitak points out. So as you proudly grow into an adult, this talk might help keep the wildly imaginative child in you alive for years to come.

On that nostalgic note, we conclude our list of the most thought-provoking TEDx talks every young adult should watch. Which ones are your favorites and why? Would you like us to add some of your suggestions to our follow-up second list? Drop the links and your views in the comments section below!

And if you’d like to build and tell your own story on the TED stage someday, call us up at ‘+91 22 2568 1775’ for personalized career counseling and get the perfect launchpad for your professional dreams…

Yours in learning,

The happy folks at Education Street Pvt. Ltd. 

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