The best 4 TED talks on storytelling

Ashden Walker May 17, 2021 5:44:31 PM

One thing that we’ve learned throughout the various UK lockdowns is that days are long and boring without good content. And thankfully, TED is one reliable source for content from the world’s most inspiring and motivating thought leaders! TED - Technology, Entertainment and Design - covers lectures in all ranges of life and industries. From talks on Personal Growth, through to understanding why societies collapse, but today we’re shining the spotlight on four TED talks that we think perfectly showcase the power of storytelling in different and meaningful ways. 

1. How your brain responds to stories and why they’re crucial for leaders

Let’s start off with a talk by Karen Eber on ‘How your brain responds to stories and why they’re crucial for leaders’.


In this talk, Karen goes into the details on what makes a great story, but also how this skill can be applied in the workplace to inspire and excite your teams. It’s not a common thought to link leadership and storytelling together, but after watching this talk, you’ll be wishing you’d done it sooner!

Our favorite part? At 7:20, Karen talks about what she believes makes a good story, and we couldn’t agree more:

“What makes a great story? It’s going to answer 3 questions:

    1. What is the context? 
    2. What is the conflict?
    3. What is the outcome? Where it is different, what is the takeaway?

Three attributes:

    1. Build and release tension.
    2. Builds an idea. Helps you see something you can no longer unsee.
    3. Communicates value.”

2. The clues to a great story

The second TED talk we wanted to share was presented by the American film director, Andrew Stanton. Andrew’s name may not be recognized in the household, but we’re 100% confident his work is. Andrew is the cinematic brains behind Finding Nemo, Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Finding Dory, WALL-E... and so many more! In this TED Talk, ‘The clues to a great story’, Andrew shares what he believes about storytelling and how he applies this to his work. 


Our favorite part? When Andrew shares his greatest story commandment at the 5:00 mark - “One of the greatest story commandments: make me care.” He goes on to share a scene from WALL-E, the iconic Pixar movie featuring a dusty little old robot.

“Storytelling without dialogue is the purest form of cinematic storytelling. And in 2008, I pushed all the theories I had on storytelling at the time to the limits of my understanding of this project. It confirms something I really had a hunch on: the audience wants to work for their meal, they just don’t want to know that they’re doing that.

We’re born problem-solvers - we’re compelled to deduce and deduct. It’s this well-organized absence of information that draws us in. There’s a reason that we’re all attracted to an infant or a puppy - it’s not just that they’re damn cute, it’s because they can’t completely express what they’re thinking, what their intentions are - and it’s like a magnet where we can’t stop ourselves from wanting to complete the sentence and fill it in.”


3. The technology of storytelling

The technology of storytelling’ was delivered by Joe Sabia, with live onstage iPad action. Just the fact that he was able to type and search -- without making mistakes on his iPad -- is reason enough to watch this talk. It’s only 3.5 minutes long, but brilliantly highlights the evolution of storytelling. From cave paintings on walls to posting on Facebook walls - Joe showcases the power of storytelling in a curiously fun way.


Our favorite part? When Joe said this: 

“They realized that in 6,000 years of storytelling, they’ve gone from depicting hunting on cave walls to depicting Shakespeare on Facebook walls. And this was a cause for celebration! The art of storytelling has remained unchanged, and, for the most part, the stories are recycled. But the way that humans tell the stories has always evolved with pure, consistent novelty.”


4. First person vs. Second person vs. Third person

And finally, the last talk we wanted to share about storytelling is ‘First person vs. Second person vs. Third person’ by Rebekah Bergman. This talk helps understand the differences between the perspectives and shows how you can quickly you can impact the mood of a story by changing the perspective. It’s brought to life using the fairytale of Rapunzel, but we don’t want to give it all away - watch and see for yourself.


TED continues to upload and share content about storytelling (and everything else in between) regularly. It’s a great way to explore more possibilities within your mind while learning. And by understanding how you want to share your story - whether that’s in conversation or through video with an agency like our Studio - you can save yourself so much time and effort.