Five Inspiring TED Talks for Small Businesses

Using the internet as an educational and motivational resource is becoming more popular all the time. Part of the reason for this is websites like the fantastic TED.com.

This non-profit organisation started in 1984, as a one-off conference for Silicon Valley types, focused on technology, entertainment and design (hence the acronym). This one-off conference has since evolved into talks held across the world – including North America, Asia and Europe – throughout the year, which are streamed live and subsequently hosted online.

And it isn’t just Silicon Valley aficionados who deliver the talks these days. TED speakers now include Bill Clinton, Richard Dawkins, Bono, Malcolm Gladwell and Gordon Brown, as well as a number of Nobel Prize winners. All TED talks last a maximum of 18 minutes, delivering innovative and engaging exploration of many topics within the spheres of science and culture.

Today the talks on their site number more than 1,700. When browsing this enormous catalogue you can search by topic and then explore playlists that focus in on a particular theme. For example, there are seven talks that touch on behavioural economics, 16 talks on marketing and 35 talks that focus on being an entrepreneur. All of these can seem appealing to an entrepreneur but since time tends to be tight for small business owners, we’ve put together a must-see list to get you started…

Why we do what we do – Tony Robbins

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This talk is conducted by the incredibly charismatic and likeable Tony Robbins. This emphatic, straight-talking life coach and motivational speaker has made it his life’s work to understand why we do the things we do and this talk covers various aspects of that, including mental resourcefulness. As he says himself, he is used to doing week-long seminars, so the slot he is given by TED results in a somewhat hurried journey through his philosophy and experiences. That said, it’s well worth watching to get a glimpse of the energy and passion he throws at presenting – and the cameo appearance from Al Gore.

How to make a splash in social media – Alexis Ohanian

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The co-founder of Reddit delivers this four-minute tidbit about social media. Nailing this sphere of marketing is a must for any small business, so the example Alexis Ohanian gives about how they made a splash on the internet is well worth a watch. The talk focuses on a campaign run by Greenpeace about naming a humpback whale, which was hijacked by Reddit users to promote the name Mister Splashy Pants. You’ll have to watch the talk to see what the final result was but the point that is made is that the internet creates a level playing field and a brand losing control of an online campaign isn’t always a bad thing…

Your body language shapes who you are – Amy Cuddy

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This massively popular talk (more than 17 million views at the time of writing) achieved a standing ovation when it was delivered. And it’s easy to see why. Cuddy’s personal approach to presentation ensures it’s engaging and the content itself feels so useful and universally relevant that it’s like she’s sharing a cheat in a computer game – except that computer game is life. As a social psychologist, Cuddy has spent a great deal of time looking at how body language has an effect, not only on how others see you, but on your own ideas of yourself. Once you’ve watched it and learned more about ‘power poses’ you’ll probably find yourself sitting more like Michael Corleone a lot of the time and perhaps even achieving more success than you would otherwise.

Profit’s not always the point – Harish Manwani

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Coming in at just under eight minutes, this talk by Harish Manwani, chief operating officer at Unilever, delivers some interesting insights into social responsibility in big business. The gist of the talk is that companies cannot afford to be innocent bystanders in their communities. Instead they need to start performing a role within society and taking some responsibility by asking ‘how can we make money and do good at the same time’? Though it contains a fair bit of Unilever promotion, it’s refreshing to hear a big cheese from a major global corporation talking so passionately about conducting business with conscience.

What physics taught me about marketing – Dan Cobley

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As a marketing director at Google, Dan Cobley is something of a whiz. Here he combines his love of physics and marketing to draw clever and inciteful parallels. For example, Newton’s Law, which says the bigger an object the more force is needed to move it, becomes the bigger a brand the more difficult it is to reposition, so consider a portfolio of brands or new sub-brands for new ventures. This is a relatively short talk, so don’t expect any epic revelations but it’s seven minutes well spent if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs between meetings and fancy an insight into the mind of a marketing guru.

Neeru Pallen

Neeru works as a marketing consultant for Print Express. She enjoys working along side her talented team and keeping up with business trends.

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