My Favourite TED Talks

TED Talk

About a year and a half ago, I shared a list of my favourite volunteer quotes. Today, I’ll give you another list of favourites. Every Friday on social media I share a different TED talk I’ve found that relates to volunteering and the social impact sector. Not all of them are specifically aimed toward our sector, but even the ones talking about business have clear applications to working with volunteers. Here, in no particular order, are a double handful of my favourites and why I love them.

A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter – Mark Bezos

Not only is Mark a superb – and humorous! – storyteller, this talk has some vital lessons for both volunteers and leaders of volunteers. Especially about the impact of little things.

The power of appreciation – Mike Robbins

In this TED talk, Mike shares stories that illustrate the importance of appreciation. Not just when things are going well, but it’s even more vital when things are rough.

The puzzle of motivation – Dan Pink

In this funny and insightful talk, Dan shows us how we might just be going about motivating people the wrong way. He also provides much more effective ways. Our sector is strong in providing Purpose for volunteers, but how well are you doing on the others?

Everyday leadership – Drew Dudley

I’ve watched this TED talk at least twice a year since it came out. For all the talks about leaders and leadership that are out there, Drew’s is the one that speaks to me the most. He demonstrates that leadership isn’t about big things, but about the impact that we can make every day in people’s lives, one lollipop at a time.

Helping others makes us happier – but it matters how we do it – Elizabeth Dunn

Although Elizabeth’s talk tends to focus on giving money, her conclusions point directly to the benefits of giving time. To gain happiness from giving, we need to see a direct connection with the result. As she says “We have evolved to find joy in helping others.” Volunteering is the best way to do that.

How to motivate people to do good for others – Erez Yoeli

Eric provides some practical and (reasonably) easy-to-implement ideas for encouraging people to volunteer, and to help their community in other ways.

Why some people are more altruistic than others – Abigail Marsh

This is a fascinating talk about how the way our brains are built affects the likelihood that we will help others. Abigail shares a compelling story about how someone with a lot of altruism saved her life, and put her on the path to the work she’s doing now.

How to build and rebuild trust – Francis Frei

There are a lot of talks out there about trust. This is, by far, the most practical and helpful one I’ve seen. Francis breaks down exactly how trust is build, broken, rebuilt, and what to watch for to shore it up if it starts getting shaky.

The counter-intuitive way to be more persuasive – Niro Sivanathan

This one may not seem at first glance a good fit for this list. However, if you’ve ever needed to advocate for yourself, your volunteer program, or volunteers, Niro’s advice can make a big difference. Sometimes, less really is more!

The way we think about charity is dead wrong – Dan Pallotta

This is, in my opinion, the preeminent talk about our sector. Although focused on fundraising rather than volunteering, it is incredibly insightful, and turns so many accepted beliefs on their heads. Everyone – especially those outside the sector – needs to watch it. Dan illustrates clearly the vital importance of funding that disparaged portion of social impact organizations: “overhead”.

So these are my top ten. I hope you enjoy them. Do you have a favourite TED talk? Send me any that you think I should watch. I’m always on the lookout for talks I haven’t seen!

Thanks, and see you in the new year!

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