20 Short TED Talks you can watch on your lunch break


Short TED Talks

One of the wonders of technology is that information is now at the reach of everyone. You can learn a little bit of everything from just spending a couple of minutes online. But now, there is another problem. There is just too much information and little time. And, to be honest, sometimes you just want to learn something new, yes, but you also want enough time for leisure and resting. It’s great to learn something new every day, but I bet you don’t want to spend every single moment of your free time doing so. That’s why here you’ll find some of the best short TED talks you can watch on your lunch break. Since they’re all under 10 minutes, you’ll still have free time to relax afterwards! 


Short TED Talks about Well-being and Health

“How climate change affects your mental health” by Britt Wray (07:31 minutes)

Britt Way is a Canadian writer and researcher, who focuses on topics related to science, technology, and ethics. Her TED Talk is incredibly powerful and interesting precisely because she focuses on something no one else does: the psychological impacts of climate change. She compares global warming to the “apocalypses” and crises of older generations. She points out that each of these crises (climate change included) have an impact on the people’s psyches. In her short 7 minute presentation, she works around topics such as “should I have children in the age of climate change?” and the psychology behind these. 


“A life-saving device that detects silent heart attacks” by Akash Manoj (08:11 minutes)

Have you ever heard of silent heart attacks? I hadn’t until I saw this TED Talk. Akash Manoj is an 18-year-old cardiology researcher that has dedicated all of his life, since his grandfather passed away from a silent heart attack, to study them. In this short TED Talk he shows his invention to detect and prevent silent heart attacks. Even if you’re not really interested in the technological development of the invention itself, his drive and dedication make this TED talk incredibly inspiring for anyone. 


“Math can help uncover cancer’s secrets” by Irina Kareva (07:39)

Irina Kareva presents herself as a “translator”: she translates from biology to mathematics. And would this be useful? You may ask. In this short TED Talk, Irina Kareva presents how formuling patterns of behavior in an ecosystem such as a human body could help run tests and experiments, and eventually help find many solutions. This is a great presentation, especially because she explains so well, in a simple, direct manner, an incredibly complex process. After you finish watching the video, you’ll never see the human body the same way


Short TED Talks around Society and Activism

“You have the Rite” by Marc Bamuthi Joseph (07:14 minutes)

This TED talk is a little different since it is not focused on passing on actual, concrete information. Marc Bamuthi, instead, shares an incredibly powerful personal experience in a beautifully crafted presentation. This TED talk about racism in America, is poetic storytelling at its best. 


“How augmented reality is changing activism” by Glenn Cantave (06:57 minutes)

Glenn Cantave is an activist and performance artist that shares his experiences in this TED Talk. This presentation is great because it shows how technology can be used to make a statement. And not any statement but one that would not be possible (or would be rather dangerous for protestors) without these inventions. It is a great introduction to the unlimited possibilities of what you can do with today’s technology and a little creativity.  


“Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model” by Cameron Russell (09:37 minutes)

Model Cameron Russell delivers this short but powerful TED Talk around a topic no one really wants to talk about:  that the way you look does influence the way you interact with the world. As she says, she has won the “genetic lottery”. This presentation is a great reflection of modern society and privilege. 


Short TED Talks about Technological Discoveries


“What’s at the bottom of the ocean -and how we’re getting there” by Victor Vescovo (07:51 minutes)

Victor Vescovo is a retired naval officer that has taken upon himself to go where no one else has gone before: the bottom of the ocean. In this TED Talk, he shares a little about his project and the submarine that has been created to allow several research expeditions all around the globe. The great thing about this presentation is that is done as a conversation with a host, so it’s really light and easy to listen to.  


“How AI could become an extension of your mind” by Arnav Kapur (08:58 minutes)

I must admit, that Arnav Kapur’s presentation is a little bit creepy. Technology is advancing too fast towards things that seemed completely impossible. Like the “mind-reading” machine that Arnav presents. The best thing, however, is how Arnav goes the extra mile to show that, despite how utterly sci-fi it sounds, it could have a lot of practical uses in real life. 


PLAYLIST: “Small Thing, Big Idea” (a TED Original Series)

Okay, including this one is cheating a little bit, but it was just too good not to include it. This one is a playlist of 8 short videos (around 3 minutes each) of “humble masterpieces”. Even if we usually think of crazy, futuristic technology when we think of TED Talks, this one goes the opposite way and focuses in common, everyday technology that has changed our lives throughout history. For example, the jump rope, buttons, or pencils. If you’re someone that enjoys knowing the inner workings of things and are always up for some trivia, this playlist is for you!


Short TED Talks about Business and Professional Skills

“3 ways to measure your adaptability -and how to improve it” by Natalie Fratto (06:31 minutes)

In a world that changes as fast as today, adaptability is one of the best traits a professional can have. In this short TED Talk, Natalie Fratto suggests 3 ways you can assess your adaptability. Natalie argues that in a world where change is inevitable, the real, useful way to assess professionals is though their adaptability – not their IQ. The best thing about this TED Talk is that it gives actual, concrete suggestions on how to assess your own adaptability and how to improve it. 


PLAYLIST: “The Way We Work” (a TED Original Series)

This is another playlist worth sharing. It includes 8 different short videos (most around 4 or 5 minutes long) that tackle different issues of office life. It has videos concerning things like what makes employees happier at work, or psychological tricks to help you save money. These aren’t exactly TED talks, but they’re certainly worth giving a look!


“How cryptocurrency can help startups get investment capital” by Ashwini Anburajan (06:38 minutes)

Ashwini Anburajan present in this really short TED Talk one really interesting truth: even is businesses have evolved, investors companies have not. She advocates for the democratization of capital for small businesses using cryptocurrency -and it’s great! As she says “access to capital equals access to opportunities”. It all this sounds interesting to you, you should definitely check out this TED Talk – it’s only 6 minutes long after all! 


“The simple genius of a good graphic” by Tommy McCall (05:57 minutes)

This super short TED Talk focuses on the potential of graphics, and how it’s still on diapers. Tommy McCall is an information designer that specializes in presenting (and representing) complex and rich data. In this video, he argues on how people don’t usually comprehend the efficiency of graphs to transmit data. It’s a great TED Talk for anyone who has to work with and present data. 


Short TED Talks on Self Improvement

“3 lessons on decision-making from a Poker champion” by Liv Boeree (06:07 minutes)

Decision making can be very difficult, especially if you feel there is too much on the line. In this short TED Talk, Poker champion Liv Boeree shares what Poker has taught her for her everyday life.  As she says, life, as poker, is a game of skill and luck. 


“A rite of passage for later life” by Bob Stein (05:53 minutes)

This TED Talk is really interesting because is more reflective than informative. Bob Stein shares his lifelong search for being a part of “something bigger”. It is an amazing and heartfelt presentation on how to find things that give meaning to our lives. 


 “You don’t have to be an expert to solve big problems” by Tapiwa Chiwewe (08:37 minutes)

South African computer engineer Tapiwa Chiwewe shares his experience on this short TED Talk on how he began tackling problems that seemed way out of his reach or his expertise field. It is a great, inspirational story on how to work on things that are important for you, and how never to assume that “someone else is working on it.” As he says, sometimes what the world needs is a fresh perspective. 


“Want to be more creative? Go for a Walk” by Marily Oppezzo (05:25 minutes)

Marily Oppezzo is a behavioral and learning scientist. In this short TED Talk she shares one of her experiments on how to boost creativity. Despite the horrible PowerPoint, it is definitely worth taking a look. 


“How to speak so people want to listen” by Julian Treasure (09:58 minutes)

Julian Treasure presents 7 deadly sins of speaking and 4 cornerstones that will help you avoid them. It is a great presentation for anyone that has to talk in public, or do constant presentations. Julian invited the public to use the “toolbox” that is their voice and shares many of his secrets in this short but amazing TED Talk. It is one of the most popular TED Talks for a reason!  


Short TED Talks on Architecture and Art

“Architectural secrets of the world: ancient wonders” by Brandon Clifford (04:22 minutes)

Picking the giant Moais of Easter Island as an example, Brandon Clifford compares the sociological implications of these against the more “practical” use we give nowadays to buildings. Brandon Clifford, an architect from Princeton University, argues that the people that made these wonders also made the myths that surround them. This short TED talk is a must-watch for anyone with an interest in design and architecture. 


“How I use art to bridge misunderstanding” by Adong Judith (05:00 minutes)

Adong Judith is a Ugandan writer and director that uses art as a way to create a space for dialogue for taboo or sensitive topics. It is a great presentation that reflects the role of art in society. Adong Judith shares her experience on creating art with political content, and how spaces of collision for different truths work.  




“This is what happens when you reply to spam mail” by James Veitch (09:48 minutes)

This TED Talk is just hilarious. It answers the question we have all asked ourselves before: is there a real person behind those emails that are so clearly a scam? Watch it, but do it in a place where you can laugh out loud freely.