Energize your meetings with empowering videos like the ones used by TED

Mental break
Mental break
Image: Marla Aufmuth / TED
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Curators of the TED conference have an effective strategy for getting an audience in the right mindset. At the beginning of sessions and in between speakers, they play short films to focus the crowd or offer a mental cleanser after a weighty presentation.

At last week’s TED Women conference in Palm Springs, California, TED’s staff once again proved its acuity for scouring the internet for great interstitial videos. The clips framed speakers including Nobel laureate and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, actor and activist Jane Fonda, and Citizen Scientist author and journalist Mary Ellen Hannibal.

A brief, well-chosen video can energize any business meeting, too. In the same way TED uses them to direct the energy in the room, videos can amplify the purpose of the gathering, underscore a theme, or offer a transition between agenda items. Movies, commercials, SNL segments, or your kid’s favorite cartoon offer rich source material.

Here are a several videos played at TEDWomen to get you started.

Strength, a stunning short film by filmmakers Hedvig Ahlberg and Agathe Barbier, offers a rousing note to any gathering.  Using the words of Adele Hampton’s poem “Lessons in Olympic Weightlifting,” the three-minute segment features the inner journey of an athlete preparing to plunge into a daunting task:

Set to a war anthem from Bellini’s opera Norma, this two-minute segment features a chorus of forest creatures led by an enigmatic squirrel:

This 2017 short, called Last of the Korean Mermaids, is a story of individual tenacity and perseverance. It follows the story of a steely deep-sea diver (the elderly Haenyeo) who even in her later years continues a centuries-old Korean tradition, diving 50 feet down in one breath to gather seafood from the ocean floor:

Offering a deliciously dark interlude after a coffee break, Plaisir Sucré tells the story of a confrontation between a timid IT guy and an angry donut.

Robot & the Robots suggests a utopia when all forms of technology work in perfect harmony. Creator Ricard Badia says it’s a a celebration of music, experimentation and of course, robots!”

With a nod to kung fu and hip hop, the superb Hong Kong Ballet offers a burst of energy in the delightful 2.5 minute short Never Standing Still, set to Maurice Ravel’s orchestral piece “Boléro.”

In the short Opposites Game, filmmakers Anna Samo and Lisa LaBracio depict students debating the question: What is a gun? Using the the words of poet Brendan Constantine, the beautiful stop-motion animation traces how a diverse collective can tackle a challenging topic together.