10 TED talks to sharpen your communication skills

10 TED talks to sharpen your communication skills

Do you feel like when you talk, no one listens? Or do you struggle to remember what you hear? Improve your speaking and listening skills with these talks

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6. How to speak so that people want to listen

Speaker: Julian Treasure

Two back to back TED Talks from Julian Treasure, a sound consultant, touch on the two most important aspects of communication: speaking, and listening. Here, Treasure lists the bad habits that make listeners tune you out. For instance, if you are always gossiping or complaining, people will be less inclined to listen when you speak. Practically, he also provides the tools you need to improve the quality of your speaking voice, and why things like pitch and volume matter so much. 


7. 5 ways to listen better

Speaker: Julian Treasure

Listening is half the equation in becoming a better communicator, but Treasure says our collective ability to listen is in danger. He shares the datapoint that although 60 percent of communication time is spent listening, only about 25 percent of what we hear is retained. Conscious listening is the only way to create true understanding, emphasizes Treasure. In this talk, he provides five actionable tips to improve the quality of your listening. 


8. Listen, learn...then lead

Speaker: Stanley McChrystal

Four-star general Stanley McChrystal opens his talk with gripping story that emphasized why he is passionate about the work he does. He leads people into battle, and he is driven by his responsibility and commitment to be a great leader for those serving with him. Over his career, he’s had to learn new ways to communicate – as electronic communication replaced face-to-face, for instance. But he never took for granted the importance of creating a shared sense of understanding and purpose across all age groups and skill sets. His talk contains plenty of wisdom for anyone in charge of leading diverse teams and connecting them to a common mission. 


9. Why it’s worth listening to people you disagree with

Speaker: Zachary R. Wood

It’s easy to listen to people who share your point of view because they back up what you already believe. But you won’t learn much that way, argues Zachary R. Wood in this TED Talk. Learning comes when you listen from the other side, he says. Wood is the head of a school program that brings controversial speakers to campus with the goal of listening and engaging in ideas opposite to his own. He says that this is the only way to achieve common ground and build empathy – something all leaders need if they want to improve their emotional intelligence. 


10. The listening bias

Speaker: Tony Salvador

In this talk, Tony Salvador recalls a team-building exercise that went very wrong. His team went out on a rowing adventure, but they couldn’t listen well enough to the instructor to get far from the dock. This exercise taught him an important lesson about the listening biases we all bring, consciously or unconsciously, to conversations. To release our biases and come into conversations fresh, he says we need to be vulnerable and open to new ideas, even if they go against our own – an important reminder for leaders. 


Read also: 5 TED talks on transformational leadership to watch. 


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