8 TED Talks to sharpen your communication skills

Most great leaders are also inspiring communicators. These insightful talks will help ensure that your message hits the mark every time
1 reader likes this.

Effective communication is a key characteristic of great leaders – it’s instrumental in gaining trust, inspiring change, building connections, and influencing others. In today’s era of hybrid and remote work, communicating effectively is more important than ever.

We’ve gathered 8 TED Talks that offer advice for leaders on improving their written, spoken, and unconscious communication skills. From learning how to disagree more effectively and diffuse conflict to giving better feedback and fine-tuning body language, these talks will sharpen your skills and strengthen your leadership.

1. How your brain responds to stories – and why they’re crucial for leaders

Speaker: Karen Eber

The world’s best leaders and visionaries earn trust not just by presenting data, but by telling great stories, too. Leadership consultant Karen Eber reveals what makes storytelling effective and shares how anyone can harness it to create empathy and inspire action.

[ Also read IT leadership: 5 tips for smarter collaboration. ]

2. How to disagree productively and find common ground

Speaker: Julie Dhar

Sometimes it might feel like the only thing people can agree on is that they can’t agree on anything. In this talk, world debate champion Julia Dhar offers three techniques to reshape the way you speak to others, enabling you to disagree more productively, find common ground, and strengthen your relationships.

3. Your body language may shape who you are

Speaker: Amy Cuddy

Communication isn’t just about the written or spoken word; your body language – the way you stand and your facial expressions, for example – tells a story, too. In this talk, Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor and researcher, details how the effects of “power posing,” or standing in a posture of confidence – even when you don’t feel confident – can boost confidence and impact success.

4. How miscommunication happens (and how to avoid it)

Speaker: Katherine Hampsten

If you’ve ever expressed an idea in a meeting that was met with confused glances, this talk can help. Katherine Hampsten, Ph.D., and associate dean at St. Mary’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, explores what causes miscommunication and provides pointers to help you express yourself and better communicate your message.

5. What productive conflict can offer a workplace

Speaker: Jess Kutch

Are there benefits to conflict? Jess Kutch, labor organizer and TED fellow, says there are. In this talk, she discusses why business leaders shouldn’t fear conflict and instead embrace it because it signals an underlying workplace problem that needs attention.

6. The secret to giving great feedback

Speaker: LeeAnn Renniger

While humans have been giving constructive criticism for centuries, we’re notoriously terrible at it, says cognitive psychologist LeeAnn Renniger. In this talk, Renniger says that the way that most people give feedback isn’t actually brain-friendly – people are either too direct or not direct enough. She shares a scientifically proven method for giving more effective feedback.

7. How to write less but say more

Speaker: Jim VandeHei

Everyone needs to rethink how they communicate – particularly in today’s distracted digital world, says Politico and Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei. In this talk, VandeHei shares five tips to help people become a more effective and efficient communicator.

8. 3 ways to lead tough, unavoidable conversations

Speaker: Adar Cohen

A conflict arises at work, but it goes unaddressed. What happens? Frustration sets in, communication stalls, and trust evaporates. In this talk, conflict resolution expert Adar Cohen discusses why having these tough conversations is crucial and offers three ways to steer them more effectively.

[ Ready to level up your communication skills? Get advice from IT leaders. Download our Ebook: 10 resources to make you a better communicator. ]

Kristin Burnham is a reporter and editor covering IT leadership, business technology, and online privacy and security.