What’s your favourite TED talk?

One of the lovely things to come out of this project is the fact that I’m often invited to go and speak to people about reading and the world. From standing on stage at International Translation Day talking to a packed audience of translators (eek! – actually they were lovely) to speaking to a handful of booklovers in a yurt at the Wise Words Festival in Canterbury last September, I’ve been privileged to share these adventures with many people and I’ve met some fascinating bibliophiles along the way.

I have to confess, however, to being particularly excited about an invitation that I’ll be taking up soon: in March I’ll be flying out to Geneva to talk at a TEDx event organised by Procter & Gamble.

As anyone familiar with the TED format will know, this involves speaking to an audience (in my case of about 300 people) while being filmed by several cameras. The film is then edited together and shared free online.

It’s a fantastic opportunity and a great honour to be asked, but it’s not a little daunting too. As a result, I am spending a lot of time preparing and will be watching many TED talks in the coming weeks.

I’ve shared my favourite above – the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk on ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, which she delivered at TEDGlobal in 2009. This was a big inspiration for me throughout my project and kept me conscious of trying to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that one book can stand for a nation.

But I’d be really interested to hear your recommendations. Are there any TED talks that have stood out for you? If so, what was it about them that made them particularly powerful?

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

37 responses

  1. Hello Ann,

    Congratulations on the book! (And don’t be disheartened by that awful one-star person on Amazon, I’m sure you’ll be getting lots of 5-stars!)

    I was going to recommend the Ngozi Adichie talk as well; Elizabeth Gilbert also gives a very charming talk if I remember – have a look, maybe it’s a bit OTT (I couldn’t read Eat Pray Love) and quite American (which I am, but…); still it might be helpful and it is fun.

    Good luck with that! Keep us posted when and where the talk will be – I live near Geneva so perhaps I can even see you live!

    All best,

    Alison Anders

    • Hi Alison. Thanks very much Great. I’ll look the Elizabeth Gilbert talk up (I’ve not tried her writing myself). I will keep you posted (have to check with the organisers whether it’s open to he public). It would be great to have you there. Best wishes, Ann

  2. Your favorite Ted Talk is mine too. But I also love ‘Where are the baby dinosaurs’ by Jack Horner, ‘How great leaders inspire action’ by Simon Sinek, ‘The game that can give you 10 extra years of life’ by Jane McGonigal (How gaming can make a better world is also good), and the very first Ted Talk I ever watched which made a big impression on an cynical uni student ‘The best stats you’ve ever seen’ by Hans Rosling. Oh and I almost forgot ‘Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking’ by Megan Washington for some confidence and so brave! Best of luck and I can’t wait to hear your talk.

  3. Hi Ann, congratulations on your book. I’ve been following your blog for sometime. What a wonderful journey and outcome!
    I’d recommend -especially after having watched Adichie’s presentation- Elif Shafak’s The Politics of Fiction.
    Good luck with yours and look forward to watching it online. 🙂
    Best wishes..

  4. Hi Ann,
    Congratulations on your book! My favourite Ted Talk is Susan Cain ‘The Power of Introverts’. For an introvert she does a good job and the thrust of her argument is interesting and matches my observations.

  5. Congratulations on the Ted talk.
    My favorites, some have been mentioned in the comments already, another would be Brene Brown on Vulnerability. It was simple, powerful and engrossing.

  6. Congratulations on the book! Looking forward to reading it 🙂
    Chimamanda Adichie’s talk is one of my favourites too, but I also really loved Stella Young’s talk (about ‘inspiration porn’ as she calls it), Thandie Newton’s talk, Mac Barnett’s Why a good book is a secret door and Adora Svitak’s What Adults Can Learn from Kids. One of Hans Rosling’s TED talks was my first TED talk too, and is still one of my favourites.

  7. Hello, Good luck with the talk!! A talk that has definitely stuck with me, is Sarah Kay’s talk, especially the spoken word poem she reads which I believe was called point B. And a second talk that I think is really worth watching is ‘The Transformative Power of Classical Music’ by Benjamin Zander. I has nothing to do with books, but he is really passionate about what he is saying! 😀

  8. That’s awesome! I look forward to your TED Talk. I enjoyed Isabel Allende’s “How to live passionately—no matter your age” and Thandie Newton’s “Embracing otherness, embracing myself.” What draws me is a great message, personality, and a little humor. Good luck!

  9. A fab TED talk I watched recently, and will watch again, because it has such beauty and there is so much in it, is Pico Iyer’s -The Art Of Stillness. He’s also written a book and traveled extensively and his was a TED Salon talk, so a smallish audience. What an honour to participate as a speaker, fabulous opportunity – congratulations and enjoy! H x

  10. Adichie’s talks are definitely among my top 10 TED talks – after all, getting your TED talk integrated into a Beyonce song is like pop culture sainthood! Allende’s also, especially because they are hilariously amusing. These three are also among my favourite, but they are not exactly a literary theme:

    Good luck and enjoy yourself!

    B x

  11. Elizabeth Gilbert does a beautiful talk on writing and the writing muse. I am not a fan of Eat Pray Love … but this talk is wonderful and her new book, The Signature of All Things is EXCELLENT 🙂

  12. Congratulations, what a wonderful opportunity! Do send me a message when you are in Geneva, would love to meet up! I see a lot of my own personal favourite TED talks have already been mentioned above. Perhaps a lesser known but wonderfully witty one, full of storytelling is Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!
    Also very funny, beautifully narrated (he is a performance artist after all): Rives’ riff on the mystery of 4 a.m.

  13. LOVE TED! I feel fairly confident in saying to you I believe your upcoming TED TALK is going to CHANGE YOUR LIFE as far as impacting your audience. I am so happy for you!

    I actually have three TED favorites:

    Jaap de Roode: How Butterflies Self Medicate

    Ken Robbinson: How School Kills Creativity

    Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Self

    All the best for you and enjoy the journey.

  14. A month back I was sitting in this boring conference room , with boring people inside talking about how they are gonna implement this and that system . One of my colleague who was sitting beside me , noticed that I was bored . And he was also someone who knows how much I am addicted to reading . He tapped my finger and signaled me to look at his laptop screen. He pointed at his laptop and asked , “have you come across this blog ?”- “A year of Reading the World.”

    I am so glad to have found your blog . I would probably be one of the last one’s to know about your work and your blog , but I’m just glad I found it . Your work inspires me every single day . I love to be inspired and when it comes from a passionate reader and writer as you , it’s just makes everything more better .

    Ann, I love your work . it is just so unique , and you make every single blog posts of yours appear so rich and filled with abundance of passion . Your new book , Congrats to you for that massive accomplishment . I can never be you , but I am literally dying to be recongnized as one among the most fascinating and interesting and passionate writers like you .

    All the very best for your TED Talk . Rule the show . I just can’t wait !!!!

  15. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed Shawn Achor! I referred my 3 kids and closest friends to his talk…to share my joy with them!

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