The 20 most popular TED Talks of all time

tony robbins ted talk

TED

Success coach Tony Robbins gives a TED Talk.

Since its founding in 1984, the TED nonprofit organization has hosted thousands of short speeches around the world on technology, entertainment, and design.

It began posting video of the presentations online in 2006, and there are now more than 2,100 TED Talks that have been viewed well over a billion times.

We’ve collected the 20 most popular presentations on TED’s website, ranging from explorations of how to reimagine stress in your life to appreciating the power of introverts.

20. Kelly McGonigal wants you to make stress your friend.

Views: 10 million

When Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal first told her audience that a belief in the harmful effects of stress — and not stress itself — was a serious health risk, many people laughed.

But by the end of her talk, most of them were willing to accept that changing their perception of stress to that of a normal physical reaction preparing your body for action. Key to this shift: A support group of loved ones.

Watch it here »

19. Keith Barry hacks the most complex thing in nature, the human brain.

Views: 10 million

Keith Barry is well known in Europe for his mind-blowing (literally) stunts. Some call him a magician, others call him a brain hacker. Whatever the name, Barry entertains with “brain magic,” composing routines that exploit the human mind’s loopholes and bugs. The effect is a revealing look into the complex software between our ears.

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18. Elizabeth Gilbert says everyone is a genius.

Views: 11 million

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” discusses the impossible expectations we have for people we deem geniuses. Instead of labeling a select few people as geniuses, she believes we all have something in us that is genius. Gilbert says, “I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. What is that thing?”

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17. David Blaine explains how he held his breath underwater for 17 minutes.

Views: 11 million

Magician David Blaine reveals how he hit this world record and why he chooses to put his life on the line to entertain audiences. When he decided to see how long he could hold his breath, for example, a surgeon told him anything longer than six minutes would risk serious brain damage. “So, I took that as a challenge,” Blaine says.

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16. Julian Treasure wants to make you a better public speaker.

Views: 11 million

Speaker and author Julian Treasure says there are “seven deadly sins of public speaking” that people continuously commit.

In his talk, Treasure breaks down each one and provides an antidote, since, he explains, how well you influence others is as much about you do say as what you don’t.

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15. Dan Gilbert reveals the science behind happiness.

Views: 12 million

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert explains the fallacy behind the notion that to achieve happiness, one must get what they want. He uses psychology and neuroscience to explain that what we think makes us happy is, oftentimes, completely wrong.

As Gilbert explains it, “Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted, and synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted. In our society, we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior kind.”

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14. David Gallo shares the mystery behind the sea creatures of the deep.

Views: 12 million

A pioneer in ocean exploration, David Gallo provides us with a look at life miles below the ocean’s surface. Included in the footage of his explorations are a cuttlefish that changes colors; a camouflaged, nearly invisible octopus; and a neon fish.

“Today we’ve only explored about 3% of what’s out there in the ocean,” he tells the audience. “Already we’ve found the world’s highest mountains, the world’s deepest valleys, underwater lakes, underwater waterfalls … There’s still 97%, and either that 97% is empty or just full of surprises.”

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13. Pamela Meyer reveals how to spot a liar.

Views: 12 million

Liespotting” author Pamela Meyer says we’re facing an epidemic of dishonesty, when on any given day you may be lied to anywhere from 10 to 200 times.

You can train yourself to spot the subtle cues of deception, she says, by listening for qualifying language (“to tell you the truth …”) and watching for uncharacteristic body language, like too much eye contact or a fake smile.

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12. Shawn Achor shares the happy secret to better work.

Views: 12 million

Being happy at work isn’t just a perk, argues psychologist Shawn Achor; happiness fuels productivity. “If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed,” he says. “Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we’ve found is that every single business outcome improves.”

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11. Susan Cain describes the secret power of introverts.

Views: 13 million

The author of best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” argues that charismatic talkers tend to overshadow thoughtful introverts — which can be a problem, since the loudest person in the room is not always the smartest or most creative. The quieter types among us have plenty to bring to the table and can make excellent leaders, she says.

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10. Cameron Russell describes what it’s like to be a supermodel.

Views: 13 million

The Victoria’s Secret model knows that she “won a genetic lottery,” but she also admits that she is insecure, since she has to think about what she looks like every day. “If you ever are wondering, ‘If I have thinner thighs and shinier hair, will I be happier?’ you just need to meet a group of models, because they have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes, and they’re the most physically insecure women probably on the planet,” she says.

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9. Pranav Mistry takes a look at the beginnings of wearable technology.

Views: 14 million

Pranav Mistry’s 2009 talk is an interesting look at wearable technology in its infancy.

While the video has lost its ability to awe over the years, it remains a charming peek inside Mistry’s mind at this time, since he would go on to become a Samsung executive responsible for their breakthroughs in smartwatches.

Watch it here »

8. Dan Pink delves into the science behind motivation.

Views: 15 million

Previously a speech writer for Al Gore, Dan Pink is now a career analyst, studying the puzzle of motivation. He offers advice to managers who want to get the most out of their employees. First off, he tells them to forget the traditional forms of reward that, in the end, actually “dull thinking and block creativity.”

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7. Tony Robbins says an ‘invisible force’ is what motivates us to act.

Views: 16 million

One of the most famous motivational speakers in the world, Tony Robbins has held 10,000-seat seminars and spoken with Olympic athletes, heads of state, and CEOs.

In this speech, which includes a famous TED moment in which he spontaneously high-fives with the spectating Al Gore, Robbins discusses what motivates us — something he calls the “invisible force.”

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6. Mary Roach reveals some surprising science about sex.

Views: 18 million

The topic isn’t the only reason this talk is so popular; it’s also the humor and wit of Mary Roach. She details her findings from hours of obscure research into the unknown and centuries-old topic of the orgasm. In the end, she gives viewers 10 bold and surprising claims about sexual climax. (Viewer discretion is advised.)

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5. Jill Bolte Taylor demonstrates what a stroke does to the brain.

Views: 18 million

Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, learned firsthand what a stroke does to the human mind when a blood vessel in her brain burst one morning.

Witnessing her motion, speech, and self-awareness shut down one-by-one, Bolte spent the next eight years relearning how to think, walk, and talk. While the left side of her brain was permanently damaged, the right side experienced a windfall of creative energy. Today, she serves as a powerful voice for brain recovery.

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4. Brené Brown discusses the power of vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.

Views: 24 million

These four emotions and characteristics are things we come into contact with every day, and Brené Brown has spent the last 10 years studying them. In a speech filled with quotable material, her most poignant remark may be this: “You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

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3. Simon Sinek discusses how and why great leaders inspire action.

Views: 26 million

Simon Sinek has a simple question he believes is the root of inspiration for all great people: Why?

Sinek has spent his life’s work trying to convince people to do what inspires them. “People don’t buy what you do,” he says. “People buy why you do it.”

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2. Amy Cuddy explains how your body language shapes who you are.

Views: 32 million

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy details the scientific evidence behind power posing. Her research shows that the way you sit, stand, and hold yourself not only affects the way others perceive you, but it changes your body chemistry.

She explains how assuming a high-power pose, like standing with your feet spread and planting your hands on your hips, can increase your feelings of dominance and lower your stress.

Watch it here »

1. Sir Ken Robinson says that schools are killing our creativity.

Views: 38 million

Sir Ken Robinson tops the list with his speech that calls into question our whole conception of education. As Robinson explains, we need to radically rethink our schools, encouraging and cultivating creativity and acknowledging the presence of multiple types of intelligence.

Robinson believes we are educating people out of their creativity. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original,” Robinson says.

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