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10 TED Talks for introverts
These valuable TED Talks – every one given by an introvert – share lessons for both introverts and the leaders who work with them
Speaker: Brené Brown
Best-selling author (and friend of Oprah) Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who has spent more than a decade researching vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. While Brown does not address introversion directly, she touches on some very powerful concepts introverts may find empowering.
In six years of research, Brown found that there was one difference between those individuals who felt a sense of belonging and those who don’t: a sense of worthiness. Digging further she found that those who felt they belonged had the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to themselves and then others, and they found connection because they were authentic. “They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection,” Brown explains. “They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating… They just talked about it being necessary.”
Speaker: Caroline McHugh
In a similar vein to Brown, Caroline McHugh also addresses authenticity. Founder and CEO of IDOLOGY, a movement dedicated to helping individuals and organizations be “fully deployed, original versions of themselves,” McHugh says there are two types of people: those who have figured out the unique gifts given to them by the universe and put those gifts to work, and those who haven’t. “Your whole life up until this part,” McHugh tells the audience, “is learning to have a healthy relationship with your ego.”
The message here: you are enough. But you do have to figure who you are. “We come complete with one true note we were destined to sing, and these are people that have managed to figure that out,” says Hugh. That doesn’t mean we are predestined to pursue a certain role in life, but it does dictate how we go about doing our jobs.
Speaker: Kalina Silverman
There may be nothing worse to many introverts than the prospect of small talk. U.S. Fulbright research scholar Kalina Silverman wanted to find out what would happen if she approached strangers and skipped the small talk to have more meaningful conversations with them. She created a social experiment she called “Big Talk”, making a video that documented it.
Silverman says the connections she made proved the power in taking time to really talk to other people, inspiring her to expand her Big Talk work into a movement that inspires more to follow suit. She also shares her tricks for engaging in effective big talk and connecting on a deeper level.
Speaker: Caroline Goyder
Caroline Goyder didn’t just have stage fright; she had stage paralysis. She had stood before a giant audience and everything that could go wrong did. She was crippled with shame and vowed never to do it again.
But here she is before a large audience again. The author and former voice coach at the Central School of Speech and Drama, who now helps others communicate with confidence and calm, explains how she was able to overcome her fear. She explains that we all have confidence we can tap into if we know where to look. Goyder unpacks three practical tips for overcoming nervousness when speaking in public, including the power of practice, the importance of the diaphragm, and knowing when to shut your mouth.
Speaker: Susan Cain
While Susan Cain’s first lecture elucidated the remarkable benefits of introversion, this TED2014 All-Stars talk is a call to arms. After spending ten “splendid years of solitude” writing her bestseller, Cain confesses she was hoping she could give one TED Talk and steal away to work on another. No such luck. She touched such a nerve that she felt called to do more.
Cain shares some individual stories of introvert revolution – people who embraced their true nature and were able to take on the world. She also discusses her mission to train more “quiet” leaders and cultivate greater appreciation for introspective action takers on a larger scale with her venture-backed organization. There are some great ideas here for transforming office architecture, training the next generation of introverted leaders, and empowering quiet children.
[ Read also: 10 TED talks to sharpen your communication skills. ]