5 Talks Exploring the ‘E’ in TED

Christina Haupt’s task was simple, to finish the sentence: “My favourite TED talk is…” But, as two very long minutes passed, she decided she needed to revisit some of the ones that resonated  through the years. The result was an hour long trip down a rabbit hole of TED talks. After resurfacing – wondering what year it was – she decided to take some time away from this weighty question.

Many of my subsequent conversations with others seemed to be about TED, and leading me to re-examine several questions: What is TED? What makes it special? How do you get involved? What is my history with the talks? What experiences have I had?  And, most importantly “What do the letters TED stand for?!” 

This used to be a heatedly discussed topic, because often the ‘E’ in TED is mistaken for ‘Education’. I will also be the first here to admit it was a mistake I often made when I first heard/watched and organised TEDx events.

But, each talk speaks a bit of truth, informs and is committed to spreading ideas, exciting perspectives and enriching information. EDUCATION, somehow just never seemed like a false statement to make when explaining TED’s essence, cause and intent.

For this reason, I’ve decided to not reduce my short-list of talks. Instead, I am parceling them as ‘E’ words that often do, and easily could replace the ‘E’ for ‘Entertainment’.

1. Education: Sir Ken Robinson, “Do schools kill creativity?”


It’s already been nominated, and for good reasons, too! This is was the first TED talk I ever watched, and I was hooked from here on out. Robinson’s position on creativity, education and what it means to learn continues to resonate with me as a young educator. His follow up talk, titled “Bring on the learning revolution!” stands out just as much as a front runner.


2. Environment: Bernie Krause, “The voice of the natural world”


I had the pleasure of attending this one at the TEDGlobal 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. A heart wrenching talk about the effects of globalization and its impact on our environment through sound. Just writing this gives me goosebumps, and the talk itself is one of the most beautiful ones out there.

3. Expose: Charmian Gooch, “Meet global corruption’s hidden players”


On a mission to fight corruption, Gooch chases wrong-doers and openly calls out a big name while on stage (in fact a sponsor of the event), for infringing on human rights and dealing with known abusers of power. One of the many female role models I idolize who have spoken on the TED stage.


4. Enquire: Hetain Patel, “Who Am I? Think Again”

Patel’s skit here is perhaps the closest to the ‘E’ understood as ‘Entertainment’. However, I’ve chosen to categorise it under the word ‘Enquire’, because he playfully provides insight into what it means to have, own and be seen as an indistinguishable entity from others.


5. Expand: Chiamamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The danger of a single story”

Another one I fell in love with immediately. In her first talk on the TED stage, she speaks about the importance of confronting biases, and the need to expand our understanding of others through the empathy that their stories afford us.


After curating this short-list under the exploration of the mystical TED ‘E’, I realised there were many others I could have added. But, what is most striking when reflecting on these talks is the similarity most seem to share: the ones which have resonated most strongly, have often also been ones I had the pleasure to experience live.

There is something about the unfolding of these speakers’ narratives that gives resonance to their ideas in that moment that is pure and gripping. It is what sets the TED platform apart, and what gives me enthusiasm to contribute to our team.


As a new associate to the TEDxZurich speaker team, Christina Haupt has been learning a lot from the team. It’s been a joy bringing together a group of speakers who will not only tell their stories, but create a larger image by bringing together ideas that touch on different aspects of this year’s theme ‘Connection’.