To celebrate, TED has put together this interactive timeline speakers will want to plumb for great moments in TED talks on the way to a billion views. TED also has commissioned lists from top thinkers about their favorite TED talks, and encouraged others to share their lists on Twitter with the hashtag #TEDBillion. So a list from The Eloquent Woman seems in order, too. Here are some of my favorite TED talks by women speakers:
Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight
Diane Kelly on what we didn't know about penis anatomy
I got to see this one live at TEDMED, but even if I hadn't, it would have the same appeal. There's the improbable topic of penis anatomy and the task of speaking even though most of your straight lines will sound like double entendres, complete with almost nonstop audience laughter. Then you learn that Kelly, a zoologist, actually discovered something new in a field where she was told early on that there was nothing new under the sun--so this becomes a story about scientific curiousity and persistence. You will not be bored, you'll learn something, and you have to admire Kelly's ability to move from discussing that same anatomy with her son last week and talking with you about it now. Would that every speaker be able to display such composure.
Sarah Kay, If I should have a daughter
This spoken word poem demonstrates the power of using poetic language, cadence and pacing when you speak, even if you won't be delivering a poem. This talk, part of TED's commitment to including the performing arts and entertainment as well as talks, shows why audiences yearn to be entertained--they're waiting for something like this. It's also a great example of something I encourage women speakers to do, which is speaking about women's issues. No one else will do it if we don't do it.
Jane Fonda on life's third act
Here's another talk that is in The Eloquent Woman Index, and you can read my analysis of it in this Famous Speech Friday post on Fonda's TEDWomen talk. I love the ease with which Fonda tackles the topic of aging, an ease that draws the audience in and encourages listening. Sprinkled with humor and personal observations as well as data, this is a hopeful talk. You'll learn much from just closing your eyes and listening to Fonda's vocal inflections, which do more than any slide or prop to keep the audience engaged.
Jessi Arrington, wearing nothing new
This designer and blogger got up in front of the TEDActive audience to proclaim that all she packed for the conference were seven pairs of underpants, and bought the rest of her clothes at thrift stores, then proceeds to show them the outfits she developed from inexpensive options that also help her reduce her impact on the environment. This has many sources of appeal: frugality, environmental activism, color, design and shopping. A merry speech that insists upon delighting and amusing the audience, this talk also uses slides appropriately--to show things Arrington can't show on stage (like the underwear) and to illustrate her words, since the visuals are integral to the talk. Thrift dressing never looked so good--there's that improbable concept again.
Diana Nyad, extreme swimming with the world's most dangerous jellyfish
I got to see this one in person, too, and even though it came at the end of a long day, this was more a journey than a talk, and we were along for an amazing ride and story. Nyad takes her time with this, a pacing that's essential for a tale with so many facets, and yet she brings it in at less than 17 minutes. That's not a miracle as much as it is a paean to practice, and it's clear that Nyad trained for this talk the way she trains for her swims. This speech also is part of The Eloquent Woman Index and, as noted in my Famous Speech Friday post on Nyad's talk, this is a talk that left the audience thinking at the very end--the ideal tactic for a speaker who wants to be what's talked about over dinner. The box jellyfish attacks give this speech sting, but the aspirational values make it sing.
If you have other TED favorites by women speakers, please add to this list in the comments.