Table Topics: 5 TED Talks to Kickstart a Weekend of Scintillating Conversation

Inspiring listens in 20-minutes or less.

If you’re anything like me, you squeeze in a podcast or two whenever you get the chance. During your commute, while you’re waiting for the coffee machine to get its act together, and every other vacant space in your routine.

Sure, we could be filling these gaps with a quick meditation or a 7-minute workout, but a good TED talk is a solid way to inject bursts of inspiration throughout the monotony of the work day. Let’s be real. We never miss an opportunity to learn a new statistic that we can throw down during happy hour. And boy, do we have a bundle of conversation starters to choose from.

TED now offers a plethora of strictly audible experiences, including TEDTalks Business, TEDTalks Health, TEDTalks Art, and many, many others. So whatever your passion, interest, or hobby, you can find a little something to help it grow—straight through your earbuds. We picked five of our favorites so that you can avoid small talk about the weather this weekend, and head straight for the big-talk conversations that happen on the TED stage.


12 truths I learned from life and writing | Anne Lamott

I listened to this on my walk to work one morning, and it brought me to tears. It’s funny and tender and every visceral emotion in between. Whether you’re a writer trying to wrestle with the blank page or just a human being trying to figure out this thing called life, Lamott will give you a beautiful new way of looking. And hopefully, you’ll bring a couple nuggets of her wisdom to your dinner conversation.


What moral decisions should driverless cars make? | Iyad Rahwan

What happens at the cornerstone of technology and morality? Rahwan invites you to consider this complicated, controversial question. But don’t puzzle it through all on your own. We always suggest confronting moral dilemmas over tapas (and cocktails).


The era of blind faith in big data must end | Cathy O’Neil

I don’t know about you, but I have a nasty habit of trusting algorithms simply because I seldom understand the mathematical practices that go into creating them. O’Neill challenges this blind faith throughout her talk. And now, we challenge you to call your friends’ beliefs into questions.


How artists can (finally) get paid in the digital age | Jack Conte

This one’s title caught my eye for obvious reasons—we’re all just trying to get paid for our art. Conte talks about a future of fiscally sound creators in a manner that is downright inspiring. So treat yourself. One day, your art just might make you rich.


We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If you’ve somehow managed to miss this gem, we suggest listening to it. Pronto. Adichie’s powerful storytelling and compelling point of view will have you rushing to the bookstore to pick up everything she’s ever written.


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