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

In our lab we have done 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 ten TED talks of all time.

#1. Do Schools Kill Creativity?

by Ken Robinson


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

Nonverbal Notes:

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

#2 Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

by Amy Cuddy


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 Notes:

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

#3 How Great Leaders Inspire Action

by Simon Sinek

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 Notes:

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

#4 The Power of Vulnerability

by Brené Brown

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 Notes: 

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

#5 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm

by Mary Roach

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 Notes:

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

#6 My Stroke of Insight

by Jill Bolte Taylor

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 Notes:

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

#7 Why We Do What We Do

by Tony Robbins

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 Notes: 

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

#8 The Puzzle of Motivation

by Dan Pink

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 Notes: 

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

#9 The Thrilling Potential of SixthSense Technology

by Pranav Mistry

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 Notes: 

  • 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.

by Cameron Russell

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 Notes: 

  • 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

by Ash Beckham

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 Notes:

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

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