Revealed: The MOST popular TED speakers in the world

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TED talks are a global phenomenon where inspirational speakers from all over the world attract millions of spectators to share their unique ideas, challenge ways on thinking and debunk processes or methods. 

From leadership, innovation, motivation, wisdom and everything in between, TED talks deliver concise yet fulfilling talks which inspire us to be great. Whether it be thinking outside-the-box, becoming a better leader, carrying out new research, trying out new thought processes or simply finding the courage to kick-start an idea you’ve been wishing to unleash, there’s a TED talk to inspire everyone.

With so many inspiring TED talks available to watch online, we wanted to find out which TED speakers inspire us the most.

The Top 10 Speakers in the World, along with their most popular talks

#1. Brené Brown

Casandra Brené Brown is number one in our list of most popular TED speakers. She is an American professor, lecturer and author who studies courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. Her most popular talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability‘ has amassed over 50 million views, and searches for this TED talk (along with ‘Listening to Shame‘) on Google and YouTube equate to over 40,000 per month.

In her talks she explains how we can become happier and more loving to ourselves (and others) by embracing who we truly are, not hiding in fear of failing or not striving to be “perfect”.

Rather than worrying about failing at a new job, relationship or venture, she promotes the idea that the key to happiness and self-worthiness is investing in something you care about without knowing what will happen.

Watch her talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ below and embrace yourself! 

Key takeaways:

  • Let yourself be seen
  • Love with your whole hearts
  • Believe you are enough

Read books by Brené Brown here.

#2. Simon Sinek

In at number two is leadership expert Simon Sinek, who explores how leaders can gain the trust, confidence and cooperation of employees and inspire them to take action. His two TED talks on leadership have been viewed almost 70 million times, with over 17,000 people searching for them each month.

In this talk “How great leaders inspire action“, he uses inspiring examples such as Apple and Dr. Martin Luther King to explain the “Golden Circle”, a powerful leadership model which simply explains why some companies and people achieve great things that others don’t, or can’t.

We believe we’ve got the right thing to inspire you…it’s a video on how to be a great leader.  

Key takeaways:

  • Successful companies or people believe in the “why” they do something, rather than the “what” or “how”
  • We follow leaders who inspire us – not for them, but for ourselves

Read books by Simon Sinek here.

#3. Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy, the third most popular speaker, is a social psychologist who’s research and experience reveals how changing our body language or body position can influence how another person perceives us, and more importantly how we perceive ourselves.

Her TED talk ‘Your body language may shape who you are’, has over a whopping 60 million views. It explains how “power posing”, before a job interview, sales pitch or board meeting can make you look and feel more confident to others and ourselves.

So sit up straight, smile, watch this talk and be more confident

Key takeaways:

  • Language is not always communicated “verbally”
  • Opening up your body gives you a perception of power
  • Our body’s actions (smiling, power-posing) can change how we feel, by inducing positive hormone

Read books by Amy Cuddy here.

#4. James Veitch

You might not expect a comedian to appear so high in this list but James Veitch isn’t your ordinary comedian. His two hilarious TED talks about tackling email annoyances have accumulated over 87 million hits. Combine that with nearly 4,000 monthly searches on Google and YouTube for his TED talks and you can see why he’s made into the world’s top five most popular speakers.

Over 60 million of his view count is owed to his experience of replying to scam email, whereby he got involved in a two-week exchange with a dodgy money-making scam.

We’re not quite sure how this relates to leadership or management but it can certainly put you in a good mood before a difficult meeting or task.

Key takeaways:

  • Don’t reply to scam emails

Read books by James Veitch here.

#5. Sir Ken Robinson

At a whopping 92 million, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson‘s five TED talks have amassed the most views on the list. Coupled with search data (3,300 per month), he is the joint fifth most popular TED speaker in the world.

Sadly no longer with us, his talks challenge the way we educate children in schools. In his hilarious (and most-watched) talk from 2006, he asks the question ‘Do schools kill creativity?‘.

Key takeaways:

  • Creativity is as important as literacy. We’re educating our children out of creativity
  • If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never have an original idea
  • Intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct – not just academic

Read books by Sir Ken Robinson here.

#6. Bill Gates

Also in fifth place is Microsoft founder and TED talk powerhouse Bill Gates. With eight TED talks to his name, he has (so far) attracted almost 75 million views and gets nearly 14,000 searches per month.

He has delivered talks on tech, innovation, climate change, education and has even predicted an epidemic, which we currently see ourselves in the middle of.

And it is that talk which we feature here; in it Bill explains how we can better prepare for a potential crisis situation, no matter how big or small.

Key takeaways:

  • There’s no need to panic
  • Have plans in place ‘ready-to-go’ in case a crisis situation occurs
  • Investing time and money in planning can significantly reduce the potential damage

Read books by Bill Gates here.

#7. Hans Rosling

Delivering a mind-blowing ten TED talks, data-wizard Hans Rosling makes in the top ten most popular speakers, with over 40 million views and close to 4,000 monthly searches.

For the number-cruncher, his talks on health and economics deliver in abundance. ‘The best stats you’ve ever seen‘, talking about debunking myths about the “developing world”, is his most sought-after in search engines. Sadly no longer with us, his talks live on through stunning data-led visuals that have us on the edge of our seats.

Key takeaways: 

  • Data and stats are very helpful but don’t ALWAYS tell the true story of a situation
  • Data needs context behind it for us to draw conclusions
  • Presenting data in a more creative manner can make it less ‘boring’

Read books by Hans Rosling here.

#8. Esther Perel

Number eight on the list is psychotherapist Esther Perel, who is on a mission to change the conversation around being in love AND having a fulfilling sex life in a modern relationship.

Her TED talk ‘The secret to desire in a long-term relationship‘, has had 17 million views and gets into the nitty gritty of what we expect from our relationships. With over 4,000 searches for this talk and her other talk ‘Rethinking infidelity…a talk for anyone who has ever loved‘ (16 million views), it seems a lot of us are looking for answers about our relationships and desires…

In some ways, we can connect this talk to business expectations.

Key takeaways:

  • We seek stability and security but also adventure and desire to want more
  • Can our ambitions in life sometimes be too unrealistic?

Read books by Esther Perel here.

#9. Tim Urban

In this TED talk, blogger Tim Urban chews the fat over why so many of us procrastinate and leave things to the last minute. His witty, light-hearted and funny TED talk, complete with stick-figure illustrations is a joy to watch – and one we can all relate with.

With over 48 million views and almost 3,000 searches per month, Tim Urban makes it to number nine in the list.

Key takeaways:

  • There are two types of procrastination – one with deadlines i.e leaving an assignment until the last minute, and one without i.e a career change which might happen in the future
  • The second type of procrastination can cause more mental health damage to a person
  • A life calendar is one good way to kick start a long term goal, rather than delaying it until it’s too late

Read books by Tim Urban here.

#=10. Elon Musk

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk is a name we must all have heard of. The founder of Tesla Motors and CEO of SpaceX is on a mission to Mars, building all electric cars and innovative rockets and satellites to explore planets beyond.

His two TED appearances have gained over 30 million views. Coupled with a search volume of over 3,000 per month, he makes it into the top ten.

In this video ‘The future we’re building — and boring‘, Musk sits down with TED’s Head Curator, Chris Anderson to discuss his plans for building a future Mars, along with his plans for Tesla.

Key takeaways:

  • Musk claims electric and solar energy will be more sustainable, cheaper and a safer source of energy for us all in the near future
  • He sees a future where humans explore further realms of space in order to sustain life
  • Elon Musk’s secret to success is his knowledge and expertise in design, technology and business
  • He always seeks constructive feedback from his friends and colleagues in order to improve on ideas

Read books about Elon Musk here.

#=11. Susan Cain

In joint tenth is Susan Cain, who is leading a revolution to champion people who are more introverted. She argues that despite being quiet or not as sociable or outgoing, introverted people have the same abilities, qualities, skills and experience to achieve great things, and should be recognised for it, rather than seeing it a negative trait.

Her TED powerful talk ‘The power of introverts‘ has been viewed over a whopping 30 millions times.

Key takeaways:

  • Introverts are pretty excellent the way they are
  • Some of most influential leaders have been introverts, i.e Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt
  • There’s no such thing as an absolute extrovert or introvert – it’s a scale
  • It doesn’t mean we all need to stop collaborating, we just need to give people solitude and time to think about ideas and solutions

Read books by Susan Cain here.


To do this, we combined Google and YouTube search data with TED talk view counts to reveal the most popular TED speakers in the world. 

# Name Google Monthly Searches YouTube Monthly Searches Total TED talk Views Avg. Score
1 Brené Brown 33,000 9,500 67,874,050 98.7
2 Simon Sinek 9,100 8,200 68,562,075 98.0
3 Amy Cuddy 6,500 2,650 60,720,729 95.7
4 James Veitch 2,050 1,800 87,856,830 93.0
5 Sir Ken Robinson 2,000 1,300 92,945,587 90.3
= Bill Gates 12,700 1,050 74,691,963 90.3
7 Hans Rosling 1,900 1,950 41,696,564 90.0
8 Esther Perel 2,000 2,100 34,374,334 89.7
9 Tim Urban 1,700 1,250 48,790,056 86.0
10 Elon Musk 1,450 1,800 30,039,816 84.7
= Susan Cain 1,900 1,700 28,129,499 84.7
12 Elizabeth Gilbert 1,700 1,350 28,204,957 83.0
= Mel Robbins 1,650 2,400 25,966,793 83.0
= Monica Lewinsky 2,400 2,300 19,154,503 83.0
15 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 3,400 460 31,164,407 77.7
16 Tony Robbins 850 1,300 29,335,595 77.3
17 Tim Ferriss 1,090 1,450 13,957,715 73.0
18 Adam Driver 1,190 1,450 11,449,145 70.0
19 Adam Grant 950 480 28,298,895 68.0
20 Bryan Stevenson 3,350 800 9,784,844 67.7
21 Sam Harris 690 2,350 12,186,964 67.3
22 Sam Hyde 2,900 4,950 1,952,148 67.0
23 Carol Dweck 1,700 740 12,336,658 66.3
24 Reggie Watts 750 1,050 12,477,198 64.3
25 Shah Rukh Khan 600 1,800 10,624,524 62.0

We started by sourcing a list of popular TED talks using Ahrefs keyword planner for “ted talks”.

We then ranked the top 100 most searched performances based on the number of global searches per month in Google (name + ted talk/ted talk + name), as well as the number of global monthly searches on YouTube (also sourced from Ahrefs) and number of views in TED (or YouTube if not applicable), giving each performance a normalised score out of 100 for each of the three factors, before taking an average overall score out of 100.

The full data can be found here.

Header Image:“My Favorite TED Talk” by jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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