Top 10 TED Talks That Inspire

There seems to be something about TED Talks, or TED lectures which lends itself to the inspiring and aspirational. This is especially true for students in colleges and universities around the country who sometimes need a little glimpse of the future, and a little knowledge that they’re doing the right thing and adequately preparing themselves life “out there” in the real world, where a difference can be made and a revolution in thought can be achieved.

The ten most inspiring, educational, and confidence-boosting TED Talks will have anyone believing that they can persevere, survive their life as a student, and make a real difference. Check out our picks here:

1. Steve Jobs on Living Before Dying

It is perhaps the most famous commencement speech of all time, and now it’s a TED Talk. Steve Jobs talked about how to live before dying, how to boldly move forward with confidence in the face of a cancer diagnosis, and how to treat success as a “bonus” rather than making it a definition of one’s life. It’s the ultimate guide to surviving, succeeding, and making it through.

2. “Failure Breeds Success

It might be hard to consider J.K. Rowling a failure, what with her vast amounts of success in creating the Harry Potter franchise. But, like all authors, Rowling didn’t always have a book deal and a wildly successful line of movies and merchandise. Indeed, her assertion that her failures crafted her success is one that will stick with all students who have feared becoming defined by their missteps rather than their merits.

3. “How Wise is Modern Society?

It could be said that, in recent decades, society has exchanged being smart and efficient for being deliberate and wise. That’s the contention of Barry Schwartz in his TED Talk which extolls the virtues of wisdom and how today’s students and professionals can reclaim the mantle of the wise in a society that has ceased to understand its value.

4. “One at a Time

A society of mass-produced goods has become a society of mass-produced pupils in schools from coast to coast. In fact, it’s largely that way around the world, too. Shukla Rose discusses the benefits of teaching one child at a time, providing the individual attention that leads to academic success and personal growth instead of choosing between just one or the other.

5.  ”Making a Difference at a Young Age

It’s easy to become disillusioned in a society that seems top-heavy, designed to favor those who have already made an impact on the masses. But Natalie Warne tells TED conference listeners that it’s still pretty easy to make an impact through charity, deliberate, and perseverance.

6. “Teaching Kids to Take Charge

Relatedly, an impact can only be made if a person is able to take charge of both their circumstances and the wider environment they find themselves in. That’s Kiran Bir Sethi’s viewpoint, anyway, and she talks about her efforts to teach kids to take charge of their lives and their circumstances to improve both things.

7.  ”Love Don’t Cost a Thing

Jessica Jackley’s TED Talk is centered around a topic near and dear to everyone’s heart, student or not: love. She discusses not only how to be in love without money, but how the absence of money can actually deepen a relationship and strengthen commitment. It’s something that the well-funded struggle to achieve in many scenarios, she argues.

8.  ”Making Food More Academic

Popular television chef Jamie Oliver received a TED Prize and, in his acceptance speech, went on to list the benefits of educating children about their food. Indeed, the best way to craft a healthy diet is to teach what “healthy” even implies. It’s a reminder that anyone can make a difference, with something as common and taken for granted as healthy eating and lifestyle choices.

9. “The 8 Secrets of Success

Every student has spent lots of time trying to figure it out: What exactly needs to be done in order to succeed in this world? Well, there are apparently eight ways to go about cultivating success and, in his TED Talk, Richard St. John outlines all eight.

10.  ”Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days

Internet marketing pioneer and Google engineer, Matt Cutts, shares his insight into breaking the mold of your life by trying something new for just 30 days. An inspiring video for prospective college degree pursuants, Cutts’ speech underscores the need to push yourself in life in order to succeed.


About Allison Freeland

Allie Freeland is the Editor-in-Chief of She has been a professional writer for a decade and received her bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. She brings a wealth of information about higher education, online degrees, college life, and career advice. Follow her on G+.