Top 20 Ted Talks to Motivate and Inspire You to Take Action on Your Goals Today

Do you have a big goal that you want to achieve?

Maybe it’s a new idea. Or maybe it’s something you’ve been working toward for years.

Whatever the case, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck working toward success. And, you need someone to come alongside us to energize us, motivate us, and send us off to put in the work.

That’s when an inspirational talk can help, like a TED Talk.

TED Talks are widely known for providing valuable information and advice. But these talks are more than informative. They can also be highly inspirational, offering a much-needed dose of motivation to light a fire and send you in the direction of your goals.

Are you looking for the best inspirational TED Talks that will help you succeed?

Take a look at this list of the 20 best TED Talks out there.

But first, let’s discuss why inspirational speaking is so valuable and important.


The Importance of Inspirational Speaking

If you’re looking for a source of motivation, inspiring TED Talks or any other kind of inspirational talk can be a great way to get it. Inspirational or motivational speeches are designed to help us take action. 

The speaker strategically uses persuasive speaking strategies to encourage their listeners to act on a goal. Most motivational speakers also provide insider information on how you can achieve a certain goal. 

These talks can change our perspective and help us think about an issue in a new way, developing better problem-solving skills. Our brains will start turning—helping us come up with new ideas or solutions to improve our creativity.

When you listen to inspirational TED Talks or other motivational speeches, you’ll start to feel more confident. You will get a burst of energy needed to start moving forward.

Motivational talks can foster creativity, spur you on to success, and enrich your life. In many cases, this is how great leaders stay motivated to succeed.

What Is A TED Talk?

Chances are, you’ve probably listened to TED Talks before. 

TED is a nonprofit dedicated to researching and sharing knowledge that matters through short talks and presentations. TED’s goal is to inform and educate global audiences in an accessible way.

Scientists, researchers, technologists, business leaders, artists, designers, and other world experts present TED Talks. These talks are filmed at flagship TED conferences, independent TEDx events, partner events, and salons held in the NYC World Theater. TED Talks are short and powerful–18 minutes or less.

Established in 1984, TED aims to highlight the convergence of technology, entertainment, and design. TED Talks have continued to grow and expand as they continue to inspire people across the world.

Inspirational talks are a great way to find the motivation to make a change in your life. They offer hundreds of inspirational talks directly on their site, but today, I’m going to share this list of 20 TED Talks known to motivate people.

20 Inspirational TED Talks to Motivate You to Take Action in Your Life

Here are the top 20 inspiring TED Talks that will inspire you to take action on that big idea, adopt a whole new way of living, or make significant changes for the better in your life.

#1. The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown

In this inspiring talk, research professor and speaker Brené Brown (who studies human connection) shares her findings on human connection and interpersonal relationships. She breaks down the fundamental steps of human connection in a simple, humorous, and easy-to-understand manner.

Brown also touches on the things that lead to a rift in that connection. Finally, she shares her own journey in becoming more in tune with the power of connection. 

#2. Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating, Elizabeth Gilbert

You might know Elizabeth Gilbert as the author of the bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love. But before her success, Gilbert was an unpublished diner waitress. In this motivational talk, she reflects on the steps she is taking to alleviate the paralysis caused by success. Gilbert also muses on the similarities between herself before Eat, Pray, Love and after.

#3. Mosquitos, Malaria, and Education, Bill Gates

Get inspired by Bill Gates, one of the world’s most influential individuals, and how he hopes to solve some of the world’s most devastating problems. Here, Gates outlines solutions for these problems that society as a whole should consider and implement.

#4. The Surprising Science of Happiness, Dan Gilbert

Through a series of anecdotes and psychological research, psychologist Dan Gilbert discusses the concept of happiness, how it’s obtained, and how you can maintain it. He argues that happiness can be synthesized. Happiness, he says, is less a predictor of a situation and more about how you think about your circumstances.

His idea of a “psychological immune system” emphasizes the psychological aspect of happiness and the importance of maintaining the psyche rather than the situational aspect.

#5. How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek

Many people or businesses have noble ideas. But very few have successfully executed their goal. The difference: whether they can inspire others to stand behind that goal and support them. People do this by attaching values to their brand that they want their consumer base to believe in.

In this inspirational talk, Simon Sinek draws on examples such as Apple, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright brothers to explain how great leaders inspire action.

#6. A Powerful Way to Unleash Your Natural Creativity, Tim Harford

Are you in search of your own elusive creative genius? This is the TED talk for you. Today’s society focuses deeply on multitasking and constantly moving between different tasks–even though we’re constantly told that multitasking is bad.

Tim Harford examines the “slow multitasking” lifestyle that creatives and innovators embrace. This lifestyle, he argues, leads to higher outcomes and more engaged thinking–while still consistently achieving goals.

#7. Flow, The Secret to Happiness, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi

What makes a life worth living? Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the most inspirational speakers out there, discusses finding purpose and satisfaction in your life and personal work.

He defines a state of flow as a state that lets you feel connected, satisfied, and passionate about the work you achieve. He argues that the more of your daily life is in the state of flow, the happier you will be.

#8. Thriving in an Over-connected World, Leslie Perlow

In this TED talk by sociologist Leslie Perlow, you’ll learn about the “always-on” mentality and how it often hurts more than it helps. The constant need for people to be constantly connected to their work-life is unhealthy but inarguably effective for business growth and upward movement.

Pernow shares her findings on how to help companies deconstruct this mindset and find ways to improve work-life balance, while still hitting benchmarks and accelerating their business. This comes in the form of not just a mindset shift from the employees, but an overall shift in the mindset of the group or corporation.

#9. How to Make Hard Choices, Ruth Chang

Life is full of choices. The bigger they are, the harder they can be to make. In one of the most inspiring TED Talks out there, University of Oxford professor Ruth Chang presents new ways to think about hard choices, both large and small.

Chang gives listeners a tool to decide between two choices that otherwise seem to add equal value to your life. She talks about how being bound by reason limits your choices between difficult options. Breaking down each choice into smaller, more abstract segments makes hard choices easier–and easier to stand behind.

#10. The Cost of Work Stress and How to Reduce It, Rob Cooke

In this inspirational and surprisingly funny talk, Rob Cooke talks about the devastating effects of stress on individuals and as a society. He covers the impacts that stress has on mental, physical, and societal well-being. He also emphasizes the importance of alleviating stress and mastering self-regulation to optimize productivity and minimize stress.

#11. How to Make Stress Your Friend, Kelly McGonigal

Another TED Talk about stress encourages us to view stress as a positive. According to Kelly McGonigal’s innovative talk, by harnessing the physical attributes of stress, you can actually use stress to improve your performance.

#12. On Masculinity and Mental Health, Rob Wang

Rob Wang’s TED Talk covers a topic that isn’t discussed often enough–suicide in men. Wang talks about his own experience with suicide and depression, breaking it down into the root causes of the high suicide rates in men.

He talks about the societal factors that cause the type of depression which lead to the idea of suicide. Wang also shares what everyone can do to alleviate these factors and prevent suicides.

#13. This Could Be Why You’re Depressed or Anxious, Johann Hari

As someone who has struggled with mental health issues himself, Johann Hari shares the results of his research into depression and anxiety in people all over the world. His TED Talk also covers the idea that the increasing burden of mental health is due to an increased burden of unmet human needs, rather than being completely based off of chemical imbalances.

Hari’s two main findings for falling into depression are 1) being unconnected with a large group or larger meaning, and 2) a lack of meaningful and purposeful moments in one’s life. “Depression is not a malfunction, it’s a signal,” he says.

#14. The Happy Secret to Better Work, Shawn Achor

Author Shawn Achor, who is well-known for speaking about positive psychology, presented an eye-opening talk on how to live the good life and accomplish your great ideas.

Meeting goals and achieving benchmarks should be a time to feel accomplishment, but too often, positive results only lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction. The rapid pace of goal setting and “bigger and better” causes dissatisfaction, lack of motivation, and a feeling of stagnancy. Achor argues that just thinking about achievement differently can lead to an overall happier and more productive life.

#15. Smash Fear, Learn Anything, Tim Ferriss

Entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and thought leader Tim Ferriss recounts his experience in learning new skills. Contrary to the standard way of learning–with slow, gradual, paced exercises–he shares how he learns by breaking each task down and focusing on each constituent part. The crux of his TED Talk speaks to how harnessing fear achieves big things. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

#16. Smart Failure For A Fast-Changing World, Eddie Obeng

Technology has made work and learning happen exponentially faster than at any other point in time. In this TED Talk, Eddie Obeng proposes trying new things and networking more vigorously than ever before. Send that risky email, reach out online, and collaborate more aggressively–because our range of opportunities is so much larger than ever before.

#17. How to Stop Languishing and Start Finding Flow, Adam Grant

In another TED Talk on the topic of creativity and flow, bestselling author Adam Grant discusses some lessons that he learned over the course of the pandemic. He discusses his lack of inspiration and motivation after days of the same. Finally, Grant suggests ways to overcome the feeling of stagnancy.

#18. The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers, Adam Grant

In this second TED Talk from Adam Grant, Grant uses a series of case studies to break down what makes an original idea. He covers the habits and personalities of innovators and traits of people or companies who have great ideas. Grant also explains the different forms of procrastination and evaluates their efficacy for creativity and productive output. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most.”

#19. Try Something New For 30 Days, Matt Cutts

This short yet motivating TED Talk details a strategy that Matt Cutts (former administrator at the U.S. Digital Service) used to improve his life, increase his motivation, and get out of a rut. By trying something for 30 days, he says, you get a sense of the task and whether you’re interested in continuing to do it. The time limit makes the goal seem more achievable and palatable. This TED Talk is good for someone who feels stuck in their life but doesn’t know what to do about it.

#20. A Simple Way to Break A Bad Habit, Judson Brewer

Psychiatrist Judson Brewer uses this TED Talk to argue that increasing mindfulness and being more aware of the trigger and impact of a bad habit makes that habit easier to break. By critically thinking about the impulse, the experience, and the impact, bad habits will seem less appealing and good habits more appealing.

Learn How to Motivate Others

Feeling inspired by these motivational speakers and leaders? 

Learn how to communicate more effectively and start your speech from just about any idea with my free 5-Minute Speech Formula Checklist.


About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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