TED Talks for Marketers

I will admit it. I am addicted to TED Talks. I listen to TED Talks on my drive to work. I listen to TED Talks on my drive home from work. I listen to TED Talks when I am working at home. And I love to share TED Talks with my students during class.

If you have not heard of TED, it stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and is a non-profit “devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.” Tickets to the annual TED Conference are highly coveted – the 2014 conference in Vancouver is already sold out (at a price of $7,500 a ticket). However, TED has expanded its outreach to include regional conferences throughout the world – and many of these TED Talks (which are limited to 18 minutes or less) are captured on video for the rest of us to view.

Most of my students have never heard of TED Talks. So when I tell them that I am planning to share a video from TED during class, they think it will be a clip from the 2012 movie “Ted” with Seth Macfarlane. After their initial disappointment fades, they are as engaged with these talks as I am … and the resulting discussions are usually a highlight of the semester.

Following is a week’s worth of “TED Talks for Marketers” (not listed in any particular order). However, you do not need to be an educator to experience the value of sharing these videos with others. I have several colleagues who have shared these videos with their teams to inspire new ideas and discussions on how to think differently about their markets.

1. Seth Godin: The tribes we lead
Let’s start with the obvious. If you were to Google, “TED Talk marketing,” there is not a single list that would not include at least one video from the ultimate marketing guru, Seth Godin. I am certainly not going to be the first list that fails to do so.

2. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are
This video has quickly become a favorite of my students. They immediately relate to the stories that Dr. Cuddy shares and quickly apply her suggested practices in their own lives.

3. Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation
A great lesson for those who believe in “traditional” rewards, which are not always as effective as we think.

4. Hans Rosling: Global population growth, box by box
Dr. Rosling truly makes “global trends in health and economics come to vivid life.” He is the type of teacher that I want to be when I grow up.

5. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work
I have to admit that I was very happy when I watched this video for the first time but perhaps not for the reasons expected. Honestly, I was happy the person sharing this content was a man (with a degree from Harvard). Sometimes I think that my students believe my upbeat attitude is simply the result of being a woman. And although I am proud to be a happy woman, I think all of us could benefit from greater happiness in our lives.

6. Cameron Russell: Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.
This is one of the newest videos that I have shared with my students. I find it to be an excellent starting point for discussions in my global marketing class about self-reference criterion and the need to understand our own biases.

7. Steve Jobs: How to live before you die
This final video is not an original TED Talk but it is one that I shared with students long before Steve Jobs passed away in 2011. However, after his passing, TED posted it as a TED talk … and one whose message is even more poignant today. I typically share this video during the first week of class as an inspirational start (I hope) to the semester.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this list … and other TED talks that are worth watching!



  1. I’m glad you shared TED info. It’s a great, positive platform that widens instead of narrows pop culture conversation.

    • Dawn Edmiston says:


      I appreciate (and agree with) your comments! Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and share your thoughts. And I would welcome your suggestions for additional TED Talks to add to the list!

      Thanks again, Dawn

  2. Bruce Morgan says:

    One of my favorite TED talks is Simon Sinek’s “How great leaders inspire action.” In his video, he explains how answering the “why” for an organization inspires action. I believe being able to answer the “why” should be at the crux of most marketing campaigns.


    • Dawn Edmiston says:


      I agree! If I were to develop a Top Ten list, that TED Talk would be on it!

      Many thanks for the post, Dawn

  3. And I’m going to be a contrarian here and say I’m getting quite sick of TED talks. I loved Amy Cuddy’s talk and of course there have been others I’ve got a lot out of, but I think there’s a problem here – and you may be inspiring my own blog post – which is that there are now so many of these talks and they’re becoming formulaic. I have the TED app on my iPad and I was really looking forward to watching multiple talks, but I’ve actually been quite disappointed. I think it’s the format. It’s so predictable, and often I find the content much of a muchness. You’ve given me something to chew on!

    • Dawn Edmiston says:


      It was great to read your post. I certainly concur that as the TED talks are becoming “popularized” it is also becoming harder for me to find those talks that challenge, inspire and motivate me. I started six different talks yesterday and did not complete any of them. Actually, it was for a related reason that I decided to develop this blog post. I had talked with a colleague who seemed interested in using these talks in the classroom as I had done, but was overwhelmed with the quantity and underwhelmed with the quality of talks that he had seen. Please let me know when you develop a follow-up post on the topic, as I would love to read it!

      Many thanks for your insights, Dawn

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