We can learn so much from TED Talks — not just from their content but also from their delivery.

We conducted our own research on what makes a TED talk go viral and found that the best TED speakers indicate charisma, credibility and intelligence incredibly quickly.

The best way to learn what they do is to see them in action. Here is a list of the top 10 TED talks of all time.

#1: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Nonverbal cues that made his talk successful:

  • Lots of eye contact
  • Leaning in towards the audience
  • Smiling and laughter at his jokes

#2: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Social Psychologist and ‘mother of body language’ Amy Cuddy teaches how the power of body language can change both self-perceived and outwardly confidence.

Nonverbal cues that made her talk successful:

  • Demonstrates bodily postures
  • Sweeping eye contact across audience
  • Lots of explanatory gestures

#3: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek loves starting with the question of “Why?” In his Talk, Sinek explores the model of the golden circle for inspirational and successful leadership.

Nonverbal cues that made his talk successful:

  • Solid launch stance
  • Strong vocal power and varied cadence
  • Big gestures

#4: The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown’s personal story and journey of vulnerability is just the beginning. She is passionate about helping everyone discover the true meaning of what it means to belong, love and be vulnerable.

Nonverbal cues that made her talk successful:

  • Lots of smiling and laughing with audience
  • Heartfelt and meaningful gestures
  • Purposeful movement across stage

#5: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm

The sexual climax can be a bit of a taboo topic, but not for Mary Roach. In this funny and surprising Talk, Mary discusses 10 surprising (and bizarre) claims surrounding the orgasm.

Nonverbal cues that made her talk successful:

  • Nodding along with words and audience
  • Smiling and laughing throughout
  • Solid launch stance

#6: My Stroke of Insight

As a brain scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor never imagined she would have the opportunity to study her own brain. After suffering from a massive stroke, Taylor watched as many of her brain functions– motion, speech, self-awareness began to shut down.

Nonverbal cues that made her talk successful:

  • Big and powerful explanatory gestures
  • Strong vocal power
  • Tangible demonstration (yes, she brought a real human brain)

#7: Why We Do What We Do

Do you know why you do what you do? In this Talk, Tony Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that drive human behavior and action.

Nonverbal cues that made his talk successful:

  • Big smile
  • Low vocal tone demonstrates confidence
  • Lots of direct eye contact with audience

#8: The Puzzle of Motivation

Motivation is a puzzling topic And what most managers don’t realize is that the traditional reward system is broken. In this Talk, career analyst, Dan Pink discusses more effective ways to reward and gives listeners a more inspiring way of moving forward.

Nonverbal cues that made his talk successful:

  • Purposeful and directed movement
  • Open palm gesture
  • Leans in toward audience

#9: The Thrilling Potential of SixthSense Technology

Bruce Willis may not make an appearance, but in this fascinating Talk, Pranav Mistry reveals his discovery of a SixthSense device to bridge the gap between the physical world and the world of data.

Nonverbal cues that made his talk successful:

  • Lots of explanatory gestures
  • Good use of vocal pacing and pausing
  • Interacts with product demo

#10 Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.

Most people believe that models have it all. And at first glance, Cameron Russell appears to– she’s beautiful, tall and an underwear model. In this brave Talk, Russell reveals the darker side of the modeling industry.

Nonverbal cues that made her talk successful:

  • Approachable and warm presence
  • Personal and vulnerable gestures
  • Vocal emotionality and varied pitch

Bonus: When to Take a Stand — and when to let it go

This talk is one of my personal favorites as Ash Beckham talks about the challenges of standing up for yourself and when to know when to speak up.

Nonverbal cues that made her talk successful:

  • Good planting
  • Confident vocal power
  • Palm visible hand gestures

Double Bonus: My own humble submission

I was honored, and thrilled, to give a Talk at TEDx London. It’s one of the highlights of my career.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

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