Five great Ted Talks to inspire you

Unless you’ve been living under an internet-free rock, you’ve undoubtedly come across the highly quotable concept of a ‘TED Talk’.

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An acronym for “technology, entertainment and design” – arguably the three main things changing and shaping our day-to-day life for the better – TED aims to inspire and enlighten.

What prevents these speeches from veering into stock standard conference fare (think bad Powerpoint slideshows and vocal monotony) is the quality of the speakers, all of whom are experts in their field and know how to work a room.

Founded in 1984, TED conferences now have various incarnations and spin-offs and, thanks to the power of the web, we can access all their wisdom from our computer.

Here are five of the best.

 1. Parenting: ‘If I should have a daughter’ by Sarah Kay

If you’re new to the concept of “spoken-word poetry”, let Kay give you a crash course. Wide-eyed and emotive, her lyrical musings about life’s many challenges make more sense than any self-help book ever could.

Her 2011 reading of her poem ‘If I should have a daughter’ earned her a standing ovation. One minute in, it’s pretty clear why. Watch it and weep.

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2. Business: ‘Start with why’ by Simon Sinek

Ever wondered why Apple is so successful? (Aside from their sleek design, that is). According to Simon Sinek, it all comes down to one simple word: why.

Sinek will reshape the way you think about your job, your business and even your personal life with his tips for how to pitch ideas and focus your goals.

Go into any job interview and quote this and you’ll be a shoo-in.

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3. Relationships: ‘The power of vulnerability’ by Brené Brown

Brené Brown’s extremely personal talk explores the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability, and how those who dare to be open and unguarded are generally happier and feel more deserving of love.

Think it sounds a bit heavy for some light weekend viewing? Fear not – Brown has the unusual gift of making even the most serious of topics laugh-out-loud funny.

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4. Development: ‘Why 20 is not the new 30’ by Meg Jay

One for that incorrigible Gen-Y in your life, Jay’s talk gently pushes young people to challenge themselves, plan ahead and constantly reassess their motives.

Somehow, she manages to emphasise the importance of seizing your formative years and making sound decisions, without sounding preachy or alarmist.

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5. Love: ‘How I hacked online dating‘ By Amy Webb

Sick of hearing cliches like “love comes when you least expect it”?

So was Amy Webb. Thankfully, a brilliant mathematical mind allowed her to cheat the system, creating an algorithm to navigate the rocky world of online dating.

We won’t spoil the ending, but it’s worth sticking around despite the maths talk.

Her main message? Be as picky as you damn well want.

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