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Top 7 TED talks for learning and development professionals

Top 7 TED Talks for L&D Professionals

If you know how to use a browser and you’re interested in the things that happen within and around you, I bet you’ve stumbled upon at least one TED Talk that captured your attention. Maybe it’s the perfect duration of the speech, or the great subjects, or maybe it’s a combination of both — but TED Talks sure have a way of keeping watchers mesmerized.

Here are 7 TED talks about how people learn, what motivation means, the role of the workplace, and other topics L&D professionals could find interesting.


  1. The puzzle of motivation - Dan Pink

    Career analyst Dan Pink talks about how people are motivated and should be motivated.

    If businesses turned away from fear-based management to trust-based management and strive for intrinsic motivation, they’ll see higher engagement and productivity rates and lower turnover rates. As an instructional designer or L&D professional, your job is not to make employees learn; your job is to allow them to learn.


  2. The happy secret to better work - Shawn Achor

    In this laughter-sprinkled talk, psychologist Shawn Achor talks about positive psychology and how it can be used to motivate people. Instead of focusing on all the negative things surrounding us, we should train our brains to find and focus on the positive things.

    L&D professionals could use a trick or two of positive psychology when designing training strategies or when creating courses.


  3. Why work doesn’t happen at work - Jason Fried

    In this laughter-sprinkled talk, psychologist Shawn Achor talks about positive psychology and how it can be used to motivate people. Instead of focusing on all the negative things surrounding us, we should train our brains to find and focus on the positive things.

    L&D professionals could use a trick or two of positive psychology when designing training strategies or when creating courses.


  4. Where good ideas come from - Steven Johnson

    Making you crave some caffeine at first, writer Steven Johnson connects the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to the human brain and the creation of new pathways between synapses. Having ideas is a physical process after all.

    L&D professionals need to keep in mind that people are social animals and they learn a lot by being part of a group. Therefore, they should observe the social learning happening between employees, encourage and facilitate it.


  5. The power of introverts - Susan Cain

    Author of “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking”, Susan Cain talks about what it means to be introverted, from childhood settings to workplace settings.

    Getting to know introverts, to understand their needs and to find their extraordinary talents and abilities is something every L&D professional should do, or at least try to do.


  6. 7 Ways games reward the brain - Tom Chatfield

    Gaming theorist Tom Chatfield talks about the positive things games can bring to our lives. People are hooked on playing games because of progress bars and rankings, the ability to achieve goals, rewards, and instant feedback.

    If we take these gaming concepts and adapt them to workplace learning, we get gamification. This term is very familiar to any L&D professional, and this TED Talk is yet another reason for them to consider including gamification in business training courses.


  7. The workforce crisis of 2030 and how to start solving it now - Rainer Strack

    Human resources expert Rainer Strack talks about the future and the job landscape of 2030. Technology advances — robots, artificial intelligence, big data, automation — will transform the job market as we now know it.

    This talk gives any L&D professional an assurance that jobs related to workplace learning and development will not disappear any time soon. In fact, training will play an important role in dealing with the upcoming workforce crisis.



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