7 Essential TED Talks for Every Publicist to Watch




As a publicist, you know that communication is an art form. No matter how strong your value proposition is, the success of what you say comes down to the nuances. Whether you’re looking to make a connection over email, phone, or in person at a conference , every moment needs to make an impact—especially now that humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish.(Yes, seriously. Researchers have actually studied this.)

Chances are, you’re going to be taking at least a few brain breaks in the coming weeks. If you’d like a change of pace from your Facebook feed and want to enrich your own learning, here are seven TED talks to help you become an amazing communicator, no matter your medium.

1. How to speak so that people want to listen


Speak with honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love. Those are the four cornerstones of great speaking, says sound consultant Julian Treasure, and with practice, your voice will move others.

Watch this talk if you’re looking for unconventional public speaking tips—if you or someone on your team is giving a talk at a conference, for instance. This talk will also be helpful for sales and customer success reps who engage with potential customers on a daily basis.

2. Your body language shapes who you are

“Power pose” your way to success. World-renowned social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains how we can alter others’ perceptions — and even our testosterone and cortisol levels — simply by standing with confidence.

Share this talk with anyone on your team who may be giving a presentation. Persuasion often comes from the subtleties. Help your team leave a lasting, authentic impression with target audiences.

3. 404, the story of a page not found

Leverage errors to build better relationships. The 404 page might be a broken experience on the web, but according to Renny Gleeson, Global Director of Interactive Strategies at ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, it’s also an opportunity to foster stronger relationships.

In the world of media outreach, mishaps can happen all the time. Don’t let a misstep derail the relationships that you’re working hard to build with audiences. Turn every moment, even the negative ones, into positive impressions.

4. Take “the Other” to lunch

Go to lunch with someone who disagrees with you. Wellness specialist Elizabeth Lesser teaches us how to counteract the tendency to “otherize”— by taking someone who you don’t agree with to lunch, then asking them three questions.

Follow this advice if you’re a publicist who’s responsible for pitching a story that might be controversial. Go into every conversation with a clear understanding of the other side. Learn how to open your mind and heart to perspectives other than yours. Be more persuasive as a result.

5. Listen, learn … then lead

Listen and learn — both while addressing the possibility of failure. Four-star general Stanley McChrystal shares why the best leaders aren’t always right; instead, their greatness stems from their willingness to listen and learn.

Experimentation is the heart of marketing today. But as a publicist operating in an uncertain media landscape, you may hesitate to take risks for fear of missing your quotas or accidentally pursuing the wrong outreach strategy. One way to overcome this fear is to spend more time listening to your target audience. You’ll feel more confident in the steps that you’re taking, as a result.

6. 3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand

Stay true to your brand. Since relevant brands can no longer control their reputations, they should instead focus on adhering to their values, according to Tim Leberecht, business romantic and co-founder of the “15 Toasts” dinner series.

This TED talk will help you unify your brand outreach around a clear company vision. These days, interactions with target audiences span multiple touch points. From the tone that you adopt to the information that you share, you need to make sure that you’re always telling the same company story. The best way to achieve this goal? Be relentlessly authentic in your messaging.

7. Comedy is translation

Tap into comedy to translate deep truths. National headline comedian Chris Bliss, whose credits including the Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman, examines the challenging nature of communication, and how comedy can open up people’s minds to new ideas.

Worried that your brand story is too boring? Consider adding elements of humor into your pitches and marketing copy. It’s a way to stand out in an authentic, attention-grabbing way without spreading yourself too thin.

Final Thoughts

Want to become a better publicist or marketer? Take a step back to reflect upon the reasons that you found your way to this career in the first place. You’re a natural relationship builder who’s fascinated by human psychology. You love studying communication. You know the importance of revisiting the basics from time to time. And these TED talks can help you do exactly that.

This blog post was co-written with content marketing consultant and writer Kati Holland.