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7 Must-Watch TED Talks for Project Managers

As a project manager, you frequently have to wear multiple hats and manage a considerable amount of things at the same time: deadlines, budget, teams...Let's be real, it is real hassle! And when things go wrong, you are so swamped with work or so stressed that finding a fast and practical way to solve things seems impossible.

Well it is not! You can make things better, you just need a fresh perspective.

That is where TED Talks can prove to be of great value. TED Talks are, indeed, a great source of innovative and inspiring ideas. Whether it is in management, HR, psychology, relationships, or neuroscience, great thinkers, psychologists and researchers share their ideas and provide a fresh perspective. 

Here is a selection of the most brilliant and interesting talks that will give you great insights and help you get better at managing your teams, increase productivity, simplify your complex work... If you haven’t already seen these talks, just listen and let yourself get inspired!

1. Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation 

In one of the most famous TED Talks (and probably my favorite), speaker and writer Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation. He analyzes the structure of motivation describing the intrinsic and extrinsic factors of motivation. Through his research, Dan Pink concluded that traditional rewards are not as efficient as we think, and that other reward systems are much more powerful.

As a project manager, getting your team motivated and excited about their work is one of your most important missions. A careless team could clearly affect the whole project’s performance, or even lead it to failure. Unfortunately, a lot of managers don’t understand why giving more money is still not enough. This talk will teach you on which factors you should base rewards and incentives to motivate your teams and increase their productivity. 

2. Yves Morieux: As Work Gets More Complex, 6 Rules to Simplify 

As part of one of the best management consulting companies in the world, the Boston Consulting group, Yves Morieux, gives us a way to improve performances and work smartly as work gets more complex. He gives 6 rules to simplify and get better productivity. 

There is no such thing as a project manager who thinks that his/her organization or workload doesn’t need improvement (even tiny little improvements). Morieux’s process is perfectly adaptable to project management so don’t waste a minute and watch the talk to benefit from those 6 rules to simplify your life as a project manager.

3. David Allen: Getting in Control and Creating Space

David Allen, author of the bestselling book on stress-free productivity Getting Things Done, is one of the most respected thinker in project management and productivity. In a world of growing pressure and teams yielding to stress easily, David Allen teaches you how to clear your mind and get things done. At the occasion of this TED talk, he walks the audience through a simple exercise to create mental space and master the art of time management.

In project management, mismanaging time could be fatal to your whole project: you will lose performance, money, the whole project might end up being a failure. Allen’s time management method could really help you manage it all, watch the video and learn how to create space.

4. Tom Wujec: Build a Tower, Build a Team

Tom Wujec presents interesting insights based on what seems to be a simple game for children. The “marshmallow challenge” is a simple team-building that consists in building the highest tower using spaghetti, sticky tape and a marshmallow to put on top of the tower. Tom Wujec reveals interesting results that help building better teams. 

This could be a great exercise to try out with your teams. Teamwork is the ground of what will make your project go faster and further, your teams must be able to work well together to provide good results and quality. 

5. Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Happiness expert Shawn Achor talks in a brilliant and humorous way about one of the most common beliefs in western society: “if we work harder we will be more successful and if we are more successful then we’ll be happier”. Shawn Achor explains how this way of thinking about happiness and success is unproductive.

Achor claims that by raising positive levels “your brain is 31% more productive than usual”, leading to better productivity. If you have issues getting you teams motivated and more productive, this talk is for you. Click on the video below and get tips to increase happiness and productivity at work.

6. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders inspire

In this inspiring talk, best-selling author Simon Sinek presents the concept of “Golden Circle” to explain how great leaders can inspire people. By taking the examples of Apple and Martin Luther King, Simon Sinek demonstrates that some leaders succeeded best because they were able to explain their vision. When it comes to leadership, most people tend to explain what they are selling or how they are doing it, when in fact they should explain why, in order to engage those who believe the same things. 

Sinek’s argument perfectly applies to project management. If you hire people who believe what you believe, they will give the best of their abilities to do a great job because they share your vision. Doing a great job won’t be something they will do for you, but for them. 

7. Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress you Friend 

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal offers a different but very interesting perspective on stress. When most people tend to see stress as a negative experience that endangers their health, Kelly McGonigal suggest seeing it differently. Basing her work on Harvard University’s scientific studies, she found out that what makes stress so dangerous for our health was more the way we think about it than stress itself. Stress actually has a positive effect on our social life and encourages us to go beyond our capabilities. 

As a project manager, stress is part of your – and your staff’s - daily life. What if you changed the way you think about stress? Take a few minutes to watch the talk and you’ll see that there is a whole new approach to stress that may just inspire you to experience it differently and even take advantage of it. 

Of course, this list is not exhaustive; the internet is full of insights that could help you on so many levels. However, insights are not always enough, sometimes you might need another kind of help to manage your projects easily. Project management tools are a big help when things start to get out of hand. Powerful project management tools, such as Visual Planning, also provide additional features that help you get the best out of your time, money and human resources. 

 

 

 

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