The BEST Inspirational TED Talks for Teens

Motivational TED Talks to remind your teen that ANYTHING is possible...

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: The BEST Inspirational TED Talks for Teens

Written by: Ali Flynn

We all know parenting teenagers has its fair share of ups and downs, but boy, oh boy, being a teenager is hard, too. 

Between their swinging hormones (that they have no control over), the massive changes going on both in their minds and bodies, pimples that show up out of nowhere, and the pressure to make big decisions in life long before they’re ready, (all while trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their life), “teenagering” can be downright intimidating.

But heads up teens… SO many people have walked in your shoes. With inspirational stories to tell, powerful advice to share and compelling suggestions to make your path to adulthood easier, we rounded up a bunch of uplifting and enlightening TED Talks to inspire you to believe in yourself and your dreams.

Because once you believe in yourself… anything really IS possible. Check out these BEST inspirational TED Talks for teens. 

BEST Inspirational TED Talks for Teens


GRIT: The Power of Passion & Perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth

Got a teen who thinks they’ll never be able to make their dream a reality? Does your teen give up too soon because they lack the confidence or stamina to reach their goal? Encourage them to watch this powerful and inspiring TED Talk. 

Angela Lee Duckworth talks about the power of grit – the powerful combination of passion and perseverance. In her 7th grade classroom of students, she found that IQ, good looks, social intelligence, or a number of other factors weren’t primary predictors of success. In fact, the ONE predictor of success was sheer grit. In her TED Talk, she dives into how grit and the ability to view your goals as a marathon and not as a sprint, can change the course of a person’s life forever. 

Girl Up: The Secrets to An Extraordinary Life | Courtney Ferrell

A must-watch for all tween and teen girls! Courtney Ferrel is funny, dynamic, relatable and totally authentic in her delivery. She encourages all girls to “Girl Up” and harness their inner strength, confidence, and abilities to be exactly who they’re meant to be without compromising who they are. She affirms that every girl has the gifts they need to create an extraordinary life for themselves NOW… not in 10 or 15 or 20 years, NOW. 

Try Something New for Thirty Days | Matt Cutts

With more than 14 million views, this powerful TED Talk is a must-watch if your teen wants to make a few positive changes in their life. According to Matt Cutts, rather than trying to make big changes in your life, it’s far better to make small changes, which are way more likely to stick. Plus, you can do practically anything for 30 days, right??

It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone… whether it’s starting an exercise routine, cutting out sugar from your diet (or even just cutting out one thing like soda), or writing in a journal every single day for thirty days, those mindful acts add up in a big way and they pay-off in more confidence! 


To Overcome Challenges, STOP Comparing Yourself to Others | Dean Furness

In another amazing TED Talk with nearly 4 million views, Dean Furness, a wheelchair athlete, shares how losing the use of his legs in an accident helped him discover a powerful new mindset once he stopped comparing himself to others. He started redefining his “personal average” and getting better by competing only with himself and no one else. This talk is filled with hope, encouragement, and the ability to rise above adversity.

The Secret to Student Success | Arel Moodie

Best-selling author and motivational speaker, Arel Moodie, shares his struggles growing up in a tough neighborhood in New York and how he overcame them with sheer effort. In fact, he says, with the right amount of effort, you can become good at practically anything. He uses his wit, wisdom, and personal stories to motivate and encourage young adults to grab hold of their abilities and make the most of them by not giving up and putting forth the effort to be successful at ANYTHING.

How Do You Define Yourself? | Olivia Eichler

Born with a rare disorder that prevents her from gaining weight, Lizzie Velasquez has faced more negativity and bullying than most kids ever will. In her amazing and enlightening TED Talk, Lizzie shares how she developed a simple but effective coping mechanism – “Tell me those negative things,” she says, “I’m gonna turn them around and use them as a ladder to climb up to my goals.” Her funny, personal talk will help your teen reject the hateful perspectives of others and focus instead on themselves and their strengths, and how they should choose to define themselves.

Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m a Model | Cameron Russel

Nothing can shake a teen’s confidence more than feeling they’re not pretty enough or handsome enough. In a world that focuses so heavily on looks with perfectly filtered photos on Instagram and Snapchat, this TED Talk will help your teen realize that looks aren’t everything. In fact, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. 

In this thought-provoking TED Talk with nearly 40 million views, Caroline Russel, admits she won “the genetic lottery.” She’s beautiful – tall, slim, and a model. But after living the life of a model in an industry that had her looking highly seductive at 16 years of age, she stepped back from her career to share her message with teenagers everywhere – nothing matters more than what’s inside


What Your Grades Really Mean |  Eva Ren

As a 12th-grade student, Eva Ren is a firm believer that hyper-focusing on grades kills students’ curiosity, creativity and desire to learn. In this short, 10-minute TED Talk, she reminds tweens, teens and students of all ages that your goal should be to value what you’re learning, not to score the perfect “A” or 100% on a test. 

The Power of Believing You CAN Improve | Carol Dweck

Want your teen to develop a CAN DO attitude? Then, this TED Talk is for them! The concept of growth mindset was developed by psychologist, Stanford professor and author of the bestselling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, who became interested in students’ attitudes about failure. She noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setback. What she found is that people typically adopt two types of mindsets: “fixed” and “growth.” 

Dweck found that by simply teaching kids that they can learn, they can get smarter and they can get better and more adept at practically anything they set their mind to helped them develop a “growth mindset,” reminding them that their potential rests completely and fully in their hands. One of the BEST inspirational TED Talks for teens!

Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator | Tim Urban

If your teen waits until the last possible minute to start that history project they’ve been dreading or they can’t seem to get a jump on their homework because they lack the motivation, they’ll enjoy listening to this hilarious and insightful talk by Tim Urban. As a self-proclaimed procrastinator, he dives into why people procrastinate, and why you should think harder about why you’re procrastinating and get moving BEFORE you run out of time. 

The Fringe Benefits of Failure | J.K. Rowling

In this poignant commencement speech given at Harvard University, J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly successful Harry Potter Movies and Book Series, talks about how, at one point in her life, was the biggest failure she knew. But how that failure inspired her to focus on the one area of her life that mattered most. 

This brilliant speech will inspire any teen who’s tried and failed, who views failure as a setback and a reason to quit, and who needs a BIG shot of encouragement from the most successful author of our time to encourage them to keep going.  


A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer by a Teenager | Jack Andraka

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, teenagers are capable of GREAT things – even if they are young. Jack Andraka shares his story about how he found a cheap and reliable test to detect Pancreatic Cancer – all before he reached his 16th birthday.  He talks about how you don’t have to be a whiz kid, child prodigy, or a professor with multiple degrees. YOU are capable of making monumental contributions to this world TODAY.  Such a powerful and inspiring talk for any teen who feels they’re too young to accomplish their goals. 

What Do Top Students Do Differently? | Douglas Barton

When polled, most people said IQ was the main factor for academic success, but TED Talk speaker, Douglas Barton, found there’s a whole lot more to it. With more than 4 million views, this is a great talk for any middle, high school, or college student looking for inspiring ways to improve their academic performance. 

Your Brain on Video Games | Daphne Bavelier

We all know how much teenagers love gaming and, for the most part, we’ve all heard the negatives associated with it. But this thought-provoking TED Talk with close to 7 million views, shares a different side. In fact, cognitive researcher, Daphne Bavelier shares the surprising news that fast-paced video games, even action-packed shooter games, can help teens learn, focus and fascinatingly, multitask. The key? Moderation. 

Ali Flynn is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter, and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents, The Mighty, Her View From Home, and His View From Home, where she shares inspirational stories about motherhood while keeping it real. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.


If you enjoyed reading, “The BEST Inspirational TED Talks for Teens,” you might also enjoy reading these posts!

12 Must-Watch TED Talks for Parents of Teenagers

10 TED Talks for Teens to Help Them Feel Less Alone and Empowered

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