Date posted: 25/03/2024 5 min read

Four of the most-watched TED Talks of all time

Looking for some inspiration for your career or personal development? These TED Talks are a great place to start.

Quick take

  • TED Talks are a fantastic source of inspiration and learning opportunities.
  • These four talks have attracted more than 275 million views between them.
  • Discover tips for avoiding procrastination, summoning courage and more.

By Beth Wallace

Exploring everything from procrastination to vulnerability, these four TED Talks have amassed more than 275 million views between them. All of them offer insights you can apply to your work and personal life.

So, if you want to learn something new (and discover what so many other people are watching), set aside just 20 minutes in your schedule for some enlightening viewing.

1. Do schools kill creativity?

Number of views: 76,524,395

Run time: 19 mins

What it’s about: Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson argues that education systems around the world are stifling creativity. Established before the 19th century, schools still prioritise the skills that were deemed most useful for the workforce at that time, such as maths and English. Hundreds of years on, Robinson says schools must now be transformed to place greater value on subjects that nurture – rather than stigmatise – creativity, such as visual arts and performance.

Why you should watch: Creativity is tied to innovation, and this talk will make you reconsider the role your creative pursuits can play in helping you think differently. 

2. Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

Number of views: 70,401,937

Run time: 14 mins

What it’s about: Author of the blog Wait But Why, Tim Urban shares the details of his extreme procrastination habits. It’s a very funny talk (especially if you can relate to his Wikipedia- and YouTube-related anecdotes) that explains in simple terms why we procrastinate and why we really shouldn’t.

Why you should watch: We all procrastinate from time to time. Whether you leave tasks until the last minute or are avoiding something that doesn’t have a deadline – perhaps linked to your health or relationships – there are some profound ideas here that will hopefully give you the push you need to face whatever it is you’re putting off.

3. The power of vulnerability

Number of views: 64,399,343

Run time: 20 mins

What it’s about: Possibly the best-known presenter from these four videos, research professor, author, podcast producer and ‘vulnerability guru’ Brené Brown imparts what years of research have taught her about human connection. Specifically, she hones in on shame and vulnerability and how by numbing these feelings, we also stop ourselves from experiencing positive sensations such as joy and love and, in turn, true connection with others.

Why you should watch: This talk serves as a reminder to be ourselves; to be authentic, to feel all the emotions (good and bad) and to let others see us for who we truly are.

4. How great leaders inspire action

Number of views: 64,290,422

Run time: 17 mins

What it’s about: Finding our ‘why’ is nothing new these days, but back in 2009 when this TED Talk was filmed, it was quite a groundbreaking concept. Business leadership expert Simon Sinek presents his idea of the ‘golden circle’, which dictates that organisations can attract followers by first communicating their why, and then articulating how they do it and what they do – a reversal of how brands have traditionally explained their value proposition. Apple is just one of the examples he gives of a company that has used this approach to gain a global following.

Why you should watch: Sinek emphasises throughout his talk that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. At a time when people are looking for purpose, whether as employees or consumers, leaders must learn to articulate their ‘why’ if they want to inspire action.

Disclaimer: Viewing figures correct as of 7 March 2024.