During the summer months, our department spent 30 minutes every Tuesday morning watching and discussing one or more TED talks. I got the idea from Nick Denardis (@nickdenardis), who mentioned on Twitter last spring that the communications team at Wayne State University, where Nick works, gets together on a weekly basis to get inspired by a TED talk. (Nick’s boss, Michael Wright, often follows up with a blog post about the videos they watch.)
In these times of tight to nonexistent budgets for professional development in higher ed, I thought following the Wayne State model would be a good way to bring a little bit of professional development and inspiration to our communications office. So I did.
We set up “TED Tuesdays” in our department over the summer, and it was well received. Not only was it educational, but it gave us a chance to meet as a group without having to attend a dreaded staff meeting. It became sort of a bonding session, a place where we could talk about the ideas presented, agree or disagree, debate and discuss, in a safe space. Also, attendance at TED Tuesday was entirely voluntary. If you weren’t able to attend or wanted to skip a session, that was perfectly OK. Finally, staff members could submit their own favorite TED talks for communal viewing, and a few of them took me up on that offer. The result was enriching for all.
Here are a few of my favorite videos from TED Tuesdays:
Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man
I blogged about Sutherland’s talk back in May (see Why we do what we do), because at that time it served as a reminder that our business in marketing, PR and communications — making the intangible benefits of our products and services somehow tangible — is important. Sutherland communicates that point in a very entertaining manner.
Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius
The author of Eat, Pray, Love inspires in this discussion about the expectations society places on artists — and the pressures they put on themselves. Her suggestion that people are not creative geniuses themselves but have creative genius — much like the muses of ancient days — is an interesting take. This one was suggested by one of our graphic designers/writers.
David Griffin: How Photography Connects Us
A visually stunning presentation by National Geographic’s photo director, this presentation demonstrated how powerful photography can be to connect us to the world around us. This talk was suggested by our staff photographer.
Neil Pasricha: The 3 A’s of Awesome
Perhaps the most inspiring of the videos we watched over the summer. Neil Pasricha is the author of the blog 1000 Awesome Things, and in this video he discusses the importance of finding pleasure and significance in life’s simpler things. All around us is awesomeness, and we can discover it all, if we just make the effort to become aware of it. This one was suggested by one of our graphic designers.
Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From
I just couldn’t resist subjecting my staff to my inner idea nerd. I love talking about and thinking about ideas, and how they arise, so Johnson’s talk was right up my alley. He’s not the most dynamic presenter, but his ideas about ideas are fascinating. This TED talk was based on Johnson’s book of the same name, which I’ve referenced previously on this blog.
I could list just about every other TED talk we watched as a favorite, but I’ll stop here.
What about you? Do you have a favorite TED talk you’d like to mention or recommend? If so, I’d love to hear about it.