10 TED Talks every IC pro should watch

TED talks are a global phenomenon, with presentations to inspire and motivate individuals from every profession, industry, and background. Here’s our top picks for those in internal comms.

TED came onto the scene as a conference in 1984, bringing together ideas around Technology, Entertainment, and Design.


14 steps to great internal communications

Are you making the most of your internal comms? Our handy eBooks takes you through 14 steps to achieving great internal communications.

In the decades that have followed, the non-profit has evolved into a community, a movement, and even a cliche – devoted to the spreading of ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks.

We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world

Whether you’re looking to feel inspired, to understand more about how people respond to comms, or simply want to know the secret behind viral content or spotting a lie, we’ve got the perfect collection for you.

#1 Thea Knight: Lost in translation – The joy of a jargon-free world

If you’ve ever had someone tell you they want to ‘touch base’, and push you to ‘think outside the box’ or ask you to embrace ‘blue sky thinking’, this is is the talk for you.

Corporate-speak, business jargon, whatever you may call it – it’s a curse affecting almost every industry and at every level. For those of us operating in comms, this talk is a much-needed reminder to ditch the waffle and embrace the wonder of saying it simply.

#2 Giorgia Lupi: How we can find ourselves in data

Data is at the foundation of almost everything we do – both in the office and in our personal lives. In an age of algorithms and ‘Big Data’ of wearable devices and AI, it’s starting to measure – and, perhaps, even influence – practically every area of our lives.

When it comes to the workplace, management love data. Spreadsheets and pie charts, graphs and figures; it’s a metaphorical maze. However, there is huge value and potential in data, if only we can bring it to life.

Data are always just a tool we use to represent reality. They’re always used as a placeholder for something else, but they are never the real thing.

Giorgia Lupi

If you’re the one charged with making sense of the nonsensical numbers, this talk may inspire you to look at how you communicate data differently – and bring back the stories of the humans behind the numbers.

#3 Ray Dalio – How to build a company where the best ideas win

Could the key to innovation lie in absolute transparency?

Ray Dalio believes so. A leader who isn’t afraid to be called out or disagreed with, he took a somewhat radical approach to ensure staff in his business could speak up and say what they really thought.

The resulting ‘idea meritocracy’ is focused on recognizing and valuing the best ideas, backed by a data-driven algorithm that has resulted in one of the world’s most successful hedge funds. Discover what happens when staff really communicate internally – without barriers.

#4 Dao Nguyen – What makes something go viral?

Creating content people will love and engage with is at the very crux of internal comms. Given all the digital noise and distractions facing our employees, how do you ensure that somewhat dry business update is, well, read?


14 steps to great internal communications

Are you making the most of your internal comms? Our handy eBooks takes you through 14 steps to achieving great internal communications.

This video may be the one to inspire you. BuzzFeed Publisher Dao Nguyen takes you through getting inside the minds of your audience to create content that will engage – even if that content is, perhaps, a video of the boss coming in to a family of baby goats in his office.

#5 Celeste Headlee – 10 ways to have a better conversation

Sometimes, in a sea of email and IM, intranets and productivity tools and more, it’s easy to forget what the core focus of IC should be. The clue is in the title. It’s communication.

Much of IC may be written, especially in a digital age, but the rules that govern great conversation translate to communication in general. Celeste Headlee, a radio host with decades of experience, takes us through the ingredients of great conversation: from honesty and brevity to simply listening. All fundamental skills for the professional communicator.

A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, we lost that balance.

Celeste Headlee

#6 Pamela Meyer – How to spot a liar

Honesty may be the best policy, but in an era of fake news and the security of hiding behind a screen, there’s suggestions it may be in rapid decline.

We’re lied to anywhere between 10 to 200 times a day, says Pamela Meyer in this insightful talk on ‘how to spot a liar.’ If you’re in the business of communicating with – and to! – people all day, it’s a valuable skill to be able to wheedle out those setting out to deceive you: particularly if you’re the one who will be ‘communicating’ that news forward.

#7 Dan Pink – The puzzle of motivation

The mind-scratcher of how to engage and motivate our employees to do their best work is far from new. In fact, it’s a business problem as old as time.

Organizations throw money at the problem, trying to push up productivity with bonuses or raises; they bring in foozeball tables or gimmicky freebies as part of the benefits package, but nothing works. We’re still seeing 87% of our employees not engaged with their job. That’s a big problem.


14 steps to great internal communications

Are you making the most of your internal comms? Our handy eBooks takes you through 14 steps to achieving great internal communications.

Dan Pink takes on this puzzle in his TED Talk, digging down into the mismatch between what science knows about motivation, and what businesses do. A must-see for anyone looking to up the engagement game.

#8 Tristan Harris – How better technology could protect us from distraction

This one is a personal favorite, and one I’ve already referenced in a blog about ‘Time: competing for the modern-day currency‘.

As a comms person working in a tech business dedicated to helping people work better, smarter, more collaboratively, and productively, I know a thing or two about distractions. Technology – the very thing that is supposed to help us – is often the biggest culprit when it comes to time-snatching.

Tristan Harris, founder of the ‘Time well spent’ movement, delivers this insightful speech on how technology design could (and should) help us switch off – and see us benefit from more meaningful interactions and communication.

#9 Diana Dosik – why we need to treat our employees as thoughtfully as our customers

IC has risen on the management agenda as a valuable tool to drive better employee engagement, retention, productivity, brand advocacy and a hundred other things besides. We’re recognizing the value of valuing our employees.

Diana Dosik makes a compelling case for this in her talk, in which she suggests that turning the tables of customer research to our own internal processes could be the key to creating hugely successful organizations.

#10 James Vietch – The agony of trying to unsubscribe

The final pick of the pack is something a little lighter – a familiar source of frustration for pretty much every one of us at some point.

James Vietch has made it his mission to take on the spammers of the digital world, an experience he highlights in this comical spin on the pain of trying to ‘unsubscribe’ from a mailing list he never opted-in to. With GDPR and personal data debates echoing around the globe, this is a timely talk – with a subtle message to communicators everywhere to think about your message, and your audience, before you click ‘send’.

#11 Bonus talk: Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire action

OK, I’ll admit it – there were just too many great talks out there to stick to the mandatory top 10.

This one is recognized as one of the most powerful TED talks for those in business, clocking up over 37 million views since it was recorded in 2009. Almost a decade on, it still remains hugely relevant.

Presenting a simple but powerful model for leadership, Simon Sinek explains how starting with the ‘why’, and communicating that effectively, can inspire, motivate, and drive action. For communicators around the globe, it’s a powerful message and a mantra for how we approach the process of communicating with others.

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek

There you have it. 10 + 1 great TED talks to inspire, motivate, and even make you laugh in the process.

Visit the TED website for a huge catalogue of presentations covering everything from what soccer can teach us about freedom, to debates on the future of AI, solutions to the globe’s plastic waste problem and even how fish social networks could help us save coral reefs. (Yes, really.)


14 steps to great internal communications

Are you making the most of your internal comms? Our handy eBooks takes you through 14 steps to achieving great internal communications.