The 10 TED Talks Every Youth Leader Should Watch

by Rachel Blom


I love TED talks. They’re often inspiring, challenging and it’s a quick and easy way to get fresh perspectives and new ideas.

Here are the 10 TED talks that every youth leader should watch:

1. Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

This is the ultimate TED talk in my opinion. It’s brilliant, it’s funny, it’s personal and it will completely change your perspective and paradigm.

2. Philip Zimbardo – The demise of guys

This is the TED talk that introduced me to the concept of arousal addiction. What an eye opener!

3. Peter Benson – How youth thrive

This talk from a non-Christian who is passionate about teens is such an encouragement.

4. Rita Pierson – Every kid needs a champion

The title doesn’t quite cover the content in this case, but listening to this passionate woman with 40 years experience in teaching kids is a delight. Here’s my take away: “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” Ain’t that the truth.

5. Daphne Bavalier – Your brain on videogames

A refreshing and surprising take on the effect video games have on the brain. It contradicts other research I’ve read on this topic, which makes it even more fascinating. It’s proof that there are always two, or even more sides to a story…

6. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore – The adolescent brain

I’m a big fan of brain research, especially when it’s focused on adolescents. The info I’ve read and watched over the years, like this great TED talk on the adolescent brain, has really helped me to not only understand teens better myself, but help their parents understand their kids better as well.

7. Susan Cain – The power of introverts

I’m fairly extraverted, but I have some introvert tendencies as well, like the need for solitude, silence and a great love of reading. But this talk helped me understand introverts even more and appreciate their talents and approach. In a world that favors extraversion, this is a message we need to hear, especially in youth ministry.

8. Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity

A TED talk aimed at educators, but one that we can learn from as youth leaders as well. Is our youth ministry, our way of teaching (for instance in small groups) aimed at one type of intelligence or do we speak to all students? Do we stimulate and foster creativity or do we, like many schools, kill it? Challenging.

9. Nancy Duarte – The secret structure of great talks

So, the talk itself isn’t the best I’ve seen in terms of presentation, which is a bit ironic given that the topic is how to give a great talk.

10. TED Playlist: Our digital Lives

A TED feature I discovered recently is the concept of playlists. This means that TED has preselected several topics for you into playlists. This one on digital lives for instance is great, it’s helped me to really gain more insight into how the Internet, social media and this digital age impact our lives and those of our students.

11. Bonus: The YWS Talks

They’re not TED talks, but man are they brilliant. I;ve been a big fan of the British Youth Work Summit ever since I first attended one back in 2011. The cool thing is that they have put most of their talks (which are in TED style by the way and usually are about 10-20 minutes) online. My favorites include Mark Oestreicher’s talk on keeping the vision alive, Mark Yaconelli’s talk, ‘Your youth group is watching porn’ by dr. William Struthers and Rebecca Hamer’s talk on the power of listening (‘You have nothing to say’).

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