Best TED Talks on Anxiety
TED talks on social anxiety are inspiring! They can also be educational, funny, or downright moving.
They offer a short but informative look at a variety of topics related to social anxiety. You can find videos on topics such as stage fright, stuttering, making conversation, facing your fears, stigma, introversion, etc. in the list below.
How I Beat Stage Fright – Joe Kowan
In this TED talk, Folk singer Joe Kowan describes how he overcame stage fright by singing about his anxiety on stage.
He always started his sets with the “Stage Fright” song, in which he makes fun of himself for his performance anxiety symptoms.
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He said that this gave the audience the chance to understand what he was going through, which in turn helped him to relax and sing his other songs without so much anxiety.
Joe performs the “Stage Fright” song at the end of the segment, and it’s quite funny.
Why I Live in Mortal Dread of Public Speaking – Megan Washington
In her Ted Talk, Australian singer Megan Washington describes her struggles with stuttering. For her, singing is the one way that she can express herself clearly.
Saying people’s names is one of the hardest things for Megan. Why? Because she can’t switch to a different word at the last moment if she starts to stutter.
Megan performs a lovely ballad while playing the piano at the end of this talk.
10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee
In her TED talk, Celeste Headlee tackles the topic of how to have better conversations.
Her ideas are unique!
For example, she suggests doing what an interviewer would do to draw out an interviewee—by asking open-ended questions.
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The 10 ideas in her talk will be helpful if you’re struggling with how to make conversations because of social anxiety.
Why You Should Talk to Strangers – Kio Stark
In this TED talk, Kio Stark discusses how talking to strangers can be a good thing. If you have social anxiety and avoid small talk with strangers at all costs, this could be the talk you need to listen to!
In fact, Stark argues that some strangers actually understand us better than our own family and friends. For this and other reasons, talking to strangers is always a good thing.
She also gives tips on how to go about striking up conversations.
What I Learned From 100 Days of Rejection – Jia Jiang
This TED talk is uplifting if you’ve ever feared rejection or feel as though you’ve had to give up on your dreams because of your social anxiety.
Jia Jiang talks about his journey of trying to be rejected to improve himself.
He learned that often rejection had little to do with him and more to do with the other person.
He also gained an appreciation for staying the course in the face of rejection and finding ways to turn a “No” into a “Yes.”
Overcoming Social Anxiety – Marielle Cornes
In Marielle Cornes’ moving Tedx Youth Talk, she describes how she grew up having trouble making friends. When her family moved from Baltimore to Alabama when she was in 7th grade, things got much worse.
However, after finding the right therapist, she learned she had social anxiety disorder and that there were treatments that could help.
Marielle implores listeners to consider the repercussions of a lack of help for teens struggling with mental illness. She also talks about how even after she was diagnosed, some people made light of her condition or did not believe her.
She cites statistics on teen suicide and how we can all show kindness to those around us, because we never know what anyone is going through.
She also suggests that support groups be made available for students and employees, to help them cope with the effects of mental illness.
The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain
In her powerful Ted Talk, Suan Cain, author of the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” talks about the talents and strengths that go along with introversion.
Cain argues that introversion should be viewed as a positive trait, and the world should adapt accordingly, rather than introverts having to adapt to a world built for extroverts.
While introversion is different than social anxiety, there is often some overlap. And, many of the changes that Susan Cain suggests introducing in workplaces (i.e., cubicles instead of open office plans) could benefit those with social anxiety.
Embracing Awkwardness – Richard Kuo
In this Ted Talk, Richard Kuo talks about how embracing your awkwardness means letting go of the fear of judgment.
He argues that he got over his shyness and low self esteem, and became more outgoing and confident, by embracing awkward moments.
He conveys this to the audience by having them do an experiment: stand up and dance “like nobody is watching.”
Then he has them ponder the question: “What would your life be like if you were above the fear of being judged?”
While social anxiety might not be so easily overcome, his ideas are interesting and useful if your fear is mild to moderate.
Talk – Anna Vite
You need to watch this TED talk! Anna Vite talks about how she grew up with selective mutism and could not speak to anyone but her immediate family until 3rd grade.
During the talk, she reveals that she has social anxiety disorder, and is listening to music through her headphones. The purpose?
The music somehow makes it possible for her to speak. It eliminates her anxiety on stage. Some might call this a safety behavior, but it seems to be working for her.
Anna emphasizes that she is not shy, not at all. Rather, she has a mental illness that most people don’t understand.
Though social anxiety disorder is the third most common mental disorder, most people don’t talk about it. And so, despite her anxiety, she has chosen to speak up.
Overcome Social Anxiety – Isabelle Campollo Goubaud
In this TED talk, Isabelle Campollo, a teen from Guatemala, gives four tips to get out of your comfort zone if you have social anxiety as a teen.
Her tips include communicating with others about how you feel, pushing yourself to go to events, applying for jobs, and finding public speaking opportunities.
Overall, Isabelle’s advice is to stop letting your anxiety prevent you from doing the things that you love.
How to Cope with Anxiety – Olivia Remes
In her TED talk, Cambridge research Olivia Remes talks about what it is like to live with an anxiety disorder and coping strategies that you can use to manage your mental health.
While her talk isn’t about social anxiety in particular, she does start out with a good description of what it’s like being a person with social anxiety in a social situation.
Her three top coping tips include “doing it badly’ to avoid procrastination, forgiving yourself for past “mistakes,” and finding purpose in life through helping others.
The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life – Jane McGonigal
If you’re looking for something a little different, this TED talk from Jane McGonigal tells the tale of how she fell into depression because of a concussion, and created a game to help herself cope.
As a game designer, Jane argues that playing games helps you to connect with others, feel happier, and slowly change into a more confident version of yourself.
The basis of the talk is that there are four strengths or resiliencies that all of us can boost, and that by doing so we are extending our lives. In fact, she states that these resiliencies will help us to have fewer regrets on our death beds.
- physical resilience (exercise and moving at least once every hour)
- mental resilience (identifying and accomplishing small tasks)
- emotional resilience (making sure to have 3 positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion; she gives the example of looking at pictures of baby animals)
- social resilience (reaching out to someone every day; physical contact with raises oxytocin)
You can boost all these strengths through her game “Superbetter”
Redefining Social Anxiety – Hana Curay
If you are looking for some perspectives on how we talk about social anxiety as well as how to support someone with social anxiety, this talk may interest you.
It ultimately asks more questions than gives answers, but in some ways, that echoes the problem of the hidden nature of social anxiety.
Hana raises some valid concerns that people with social anxiety are poorly understood, and that more can be done to support them.
Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are – Amy Cuddy
In this TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses the importance of body language in how we feel about ourselves.
She reports on her own research, which shows that striking power poses before a job interview can lead to a better chance of being hired.
Her argument is that these poses increase testosterone and reduce cortisol, which leaves you feeling more confident and powerful (which has a domino effect on how you perform).
Her advice is to “fake it until you become it” when it comes to social and performance situations when you are being evaluated.
In other words, if you act confident for long enough, you’ll eventually feel that way naturally.
Do you know of any other TED talks about social anxiety? Share your favorites in the comments!
Related Articles about Social Anxiety
- The Best Topics for Small Talk
- How to Manage Eye Contact Anxiety
- Learn About the Four Types of Social Anxiety