20 Inspirational TED Talks For Students | Get Motivated

TED Talks have always been a great learning tool for today’s society. And one thing that makes them stand out from every other talk or symposium is their relevance to today’s current events. The beautiful part is that these inspirational TED Talks have been made accessible to everyone, including college students.

TED brings together the most innovative people in the world to deliver short, powerful talks on today’s issues that matter. At 18 minutes or less, these TED Talks can be a phenomenal classroom resource. These inspiring TED Talks can engage students and spark meaningful conversations. 

So, in this article, you’d explore an outline of 20 inspirational TED Talks recommended by and for college students worldwide. Meanwhile, below is our table of content.

What You Need To Know About TED

TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, normally in the form of short, powerful talks. Its headquarter is in the USA,

TED started in February 1984 as a conference conceived by Richard Saul Wurman, where Technology, Entertainment, and Design converged. Today covers almost every topic — from science to business to global issues in over 110 languages.

In addition to the TED talks and conferences is the TEDx. TEDx is an independently run event that assists in sharing ideas in communities around the world.

Chris Anderson, a British-American businessman, is the owner and curator of TED through the Sapling Foundation.

TED came to be in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman’s observation of a powerful union among three fields: technology, entertainment, and design. The very first TED, which he co-founded with Harry Marks, included a demo of the compact disc, the e-book, and cutting-edge 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot showed how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry.

But regardless of a stellar lineup, the event lost money, and six years went by before Wurman and Marks tried again. This time, in 1990, the world was ready.

The TED Conference became a yearly event in Monterey, California, attracting a growing and influential audience from various disciplines united by their curiosity and open-mindedness – and their shared discovery of an exciting secret. (Back then, TED was an invitation-only event. It is not now open – you’re welcome to apply to attend.)

What Is A TED Talk?

A TED talk is a video produced from a presentation at the leading TED conference or one of its numerous satellite events worldwide. TED Talks are potent videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, technology, and creativity, with subtitles in 100+ languages.

Essentially, an inspirational TED talk is limited to 18 minutes but may be on any topic.

What Is The Purpose of TED Talks?

The main aim of TED Talks is embedded in its motto: “Ideas worth spreading”.

According to Mark Lovett, a Former Organizer at TEDxSanDiego, the idea of the TED Conference, from which TED Talks are created, is to bring thought leaders and subject matter experts onto the stage and share their “Idea Worth Spreading”.

Still from him, the brilliance of this model is that attendees hear the talks live, while videos created from the presentations are posted online for anyone in the world to obtain free of charge.

He went further to say that the hope is that the ideas and insights contained within these talks broaden and challenge the views of the attendees or viewers, as the case may be. This may result in direct action to support a cause, a change in personal behavior, or a new way to view problems that are affecting society – a new outlook/understanding.

In summary, Ted talks aim to spread ideas and inspire and motivate the audience. 

The Benefits of TED Talks

Listening to an inspirational TED talk can benefit a college student in many ways. However, here are a few advantages you stand to gain from the talks given at TED conferences:

  • A TED talk assists you in finding your purpose.
  • It encourages you to recognize yourself.
  • It aids you in recognizing your dreams and gives you the potential to achieve them.
  • TED talks aim at making you a better you.
  • Knowledge gathered from TED talks encourages you to live beyond your limits.
  • It also encourages you to find love in your work and to enjoy it.
  • Furthermore, a TED talk encourages you to stand alone wherever needed.

What is an inspirational TED talk?

Inspirational TED talk is the type of TED talk that deals with mental stimulation to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. These inspirational TED talks stimulate the mind to challenge old beliefs that you hold as accurate.

Top 20 Inspirational Ted Talks For Students In 2023

Here are some of the best inspirational TED Talks students (and you) will find informative, funny, and uplifting.

  • What your grade really means – Eva Ren
  • The Secret to Student Success
  • The Power of Believing that you can Improve – Carol Dweck
  • GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Lee Duckworth
  • Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastination – Tim Urban
  • The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain
  • Everyday Leadership – Drew Dudley
  • The danger of a single story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • What adults can learn from kids- Adora Svitak
  • Do Schools Kill Creativity? – Sir Ken Robinson
  • The danger of silence – Clint Smith
  • How to start a movement – Derek Sivers
  • A teen just trying to figure it out – Tavi Gevinson
  • Everyday leadership – Drew Dudley
  • The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Everything Online – John Green
  • The LXD: In the Internet age, dance evolves – Jon Chu
  • How To Build Your Creative Confidence – David Kelley
  • How Do You Define Yourself? -Lizzie Velásquez
  • Don’t Kill Your Language – Suzanne Talhouk
  • The Pursuit of Ignorance – Stuart Firestein

Read Also: 20 Best Technology TED Talks That Will Inspire You

1. What Your Grade Really Means – Eva Ren

We commence with an inspirational TED Talk by Eva Ren, who presented this talk when she was a high school senior. In a hyper-competitive society in which everyone is trying to obtain the best marks, Ren offers insight into why grades aren’t as indicative of success as people generally think it does.

Whether you are stressing over your grades or have an excellent GPA, this talk should resonate and give you a view of your unique role in the learning process


2. The Secret to Student Success

Building on the concept of grit, Arel Moodie presents an intensely personal TED Talk that shares his struggles as a student from elementary school through college.

The peaks and valleys that characterize any meaningful journey are on display as Moodie grapples with the realities of growing up in a tough New York neighborhood.

Several of the elements in his story will be familiar to students, but he finally ties in the lessons learned into a broader message that all should receive.


3. The Power of Believing That You Can Improve – Carol Dweck

The prior two TED Talks both incorporate the primary theme of this talk: a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, reviews the science behind motivation and reward to demonstrate how all students can improve their abilities.

She mentions studies carried out on the brain to help her message while also rooting science in real-life scenarios to explain how students can be supported in practical ways.

As one of the pioneering researchers in the field of motivation, Dweck assures listeners that the power to develop lies within us all.


4. GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Lee Duckworth

We tend to think that IQ and talent define an individual’s success, but Angela Lee Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, reveals the science behind what it takes to reach success in this quick yet powerful TED Talk.

Exploring a relatively unstudied phenomenon, Angela lee Duckworth makes a case for shifting our views of what it takes to be successful and how we can better equip students for their future success. Within six minutes, this talk may be one of the most concise, but it packs. 


5. Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastination – Tim Urban

Procrastination. It tends to get the best of us all. Easy to slip into and hard to escape, procrastination can hinder your greatest intentions. In this highly motivating TED Talk, Harvard graduate Tim Urban shares an entertaining and insightful take on procrastination and how it can influence even the most well-meaning among us.

He introduces a familiar (and hilarious) cast of characters to aid in framing why we procrastinate and what to do to procrastinate less. There’s something here for everyone. 


Read Also: 167 Most Powerful Motivational Quotes for Students | Updated

6. The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain

Extroverts are all around us. We see them, we hear them, and we easily recognize them. There appears to be an emphasis on extroversion in modern society, but what role does introversion have to give?

In this TED Talk, Susan Cain gives a poignant view of the power of the inner self. She traces how we have arrived at a point in today’s culture where extroversion seems more valuable than introversion and offers historical and personal examples to reveal why we should aim for more balance between the two.


7. Everyday Leadership – Drew Dudley

This inspirational TED Talk deals with the power of connection and how it links to a type of leadership we all possess but may not acknowledge.

Drew Dudley utilizes an entertaining extended anecdote to present the concept of Lollipop Moments, a straightforward and simply applicable technique that can be utilized to change the world.

His story will evoke several laughs, but the overall message contains a dynamic approach to how we understand leadership and the impacts it can have on the people around us.


8. The Danger Of A Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Texan student Alisha Somani describes how Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk assisted her in recognizing the power of perspective: “One perspective is what forms people into being closed-minded and unaware of the world around them.

This TED Talk motivated me to learn more about current events so that I would not become ignorant people who think that everyone is the same as them and everyone has the amenities and chances that they do.


9. What Adults Can Learn From Kids- Adora Svitak

This talk is a favorite for teachers and students alike, as Adora Svitak reminds us why listening to youth voices is crucial.


10. Do Schools Kill Creativity? – Sir Ken Robinson

Funny yet spot-on, this laughs-out-loud TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson tackles the efficient issue of students being educated out of their creativity. It is a confirmation of the value of creativity at a time when standardized test scores appear to be the only standard our nations care about.


11. The Danger Of Silence – Clint Smith

“Read critically. Write consciously. Speak clearly. Tell your truth.” In this powerful talk, teacher Clint Smith describes the inextricable relationship between silence and discrimination. Smith compels all of us to be cognizant of our silence and to utilize our voices to speak up for ourselves and others.


12. How To Start A Movement – Derek Sivers

How do movements get traction? According to Derek Sivers, it’s more diverse than you might think. In less than three minutes, Sivers takes us step-by-step through a movement forming in real time.

In this inspirational TED talk, he shares an essential perspective on leadership and the lessons we can learn from those who have the nerve to follow.


13. A Teen Just Trying To Figure It Out – Tavi Gevinson

What makes a strong female character? Fifteen-year-old Tavi Gevinson set out to answer this question after observing that women, especially young girls, were often misrepresented in popular media.

Her solution: design a web magazine where teenagers can share stories, ask questions, and “figure it out” together. She inspires others to find acceptance within themselves, flaws and all.


14. Everyday leadership – Drew Dudley

In this inspiring TED talk, Drew Dudley describes how small acts of kindness can transform the lives of others. He dares us to redefine our view of leadership—that it’s not about transforming the world but improving each other’s understanding of it.


15. The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Everything Online – John Green

John Green talks about the value of the Internet and why it makes learning more impressive. He shares his experience with social media platforms, such as YouTube, and shows how they can help promote engaging communities of learning and discovery.


16. The LXD: In the Internet age, dance evolves – Jon Chu

The LXD (Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) thinks that dance can transform the world. After an introduction by director Jon Chu, the LXD takes the stage to showcase the superhuman powers of street dancers across the globe.

Followed by a chamber ensemble, the LXD pleases and impresses with its stunning display. Fans of Glee and So You Think You Can Dance may see some well-known faces.


17. How To Build Your Creative Confidence – David Kelley

You might think that creative-minded people are only seen among artists, writers, and the like, but designer David Kelley maintains that this is the wrong mindset. Instead, he explains that everyone has the potential to be imaginative – it’s all about having the confidence to seek creativity.


18. How Do You Define Yourself? -Lizzie Velásquez

University is a time for you to examine who you are and what characterizes you, which can be difficult in a world driven by social media and common image expectations. Motivational speaker Lizzie Velásquez, who suffers from a rare syndrome, addresses this issue head-on in a passionate talk about what describes beauty and happiness.


19. Don’t Kill Your Language – Suzanne Talhouk

It’s no secret that being bilingual is advantageous. This talk by Suzanne Talhouk concentrates on the social perspectives and power of language. It is an inspiring call to welcome our native languages and an indictment of xenophobia and cultural supremacy. This talk is in Arabic with English subtitles.


20. The Pursuit of Ignorance – Stuart Firestein

In an inspirational TED talk about the virtues of ignorance, neuroscientist Stuart Firestein strips away the prestige of science. He returns it to a basic principle: the hunt for what we don’t know.

Loaded with great quotes from great people, “The Pursuit of Ignorance” challenges traditional education conventions and tries to light a fire in future generations.


FAQs 20 Inspirational Ted Talks For Students

What is TED?

TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually through short, powerful talks.

What is a TED talk?

A TED talk is a video created from a presentation at the leading TED conference or one of its many satellite events worldwide. It is influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, technology, and creativity, with subtitles in 100+ languages.

Why was TED established?

The primary purpose of TED Talks is told in its motto: “Ideas worth spreading”.

How long is a TED talk supposed to last?

TED talks are limited to a maximum length of 18 minutes but may be on any topic.

Why should I attend a TED event?

Here are what you stand to gain from the talks given at TED conferences:

1. A TED talk helps you to find your purpose.
2. It helps you to recognize yourself.
3. It helps you to recognize your dreams and gives you the potential to fulfill them.
4. TED talks aim at making you a better you.
5. Knowledge gathered from TED talks helps you to live beyond your limits.
6. It also helps you to find love in your work and to enjoy it.
7. It encourages you to stand alone wherever needed.
A technology TED talk is a type of TED talk with a focus on tech topics.


Generally, TED talks are given to spread worthy ideas. In line with this, inspirational TED talks are presented to spread worthy mental stimulation ideas.

So, these inspirational TED talks above have been assembled to give you knowledge that will assist you in living beyond your limits and becoming a better version of yourself, among other benefits, even as a college student.


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