TED Talks For Recruiters: Communication

For a job that’s conducted on the phone as much as this, good communication’s everything.

And being skillful in the subtle art of it will make you measurably better at every key area of your job. Be that promoting your services, pitching for business, negotiating contracts, or delivering bad news.

Or good news, obviously. And the same principles apply whether you’re on the phone, Outlook, Whatsapp, LinkedIn Messenger, or sat across the boardroom table.

All 8 of these talks approach the same goal from a variety of angles: to better understand and be understood.

The difference expert-level communication will make to your day is massive. So learn a thing or two from these communication experts about getting your point across. You’ll see their wisdom manifest in your billings before the end of the quarter.

This Is Your Brain On Communication

Uri Hasson’s an Associate Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. And in this talk, he’s giving a brain-level overview of what communication is, in a nutshell.

Communication lives and breaths on common ground, which is less a metaphorical location, and more a kind of shared brain activity. Between you and the person you’re communicating with.

So you might be speaking knowingly about the hiring challenges in your specific market. Or it might be a higher end, business growth conversation you’re having with a key decision maker.

Watch this talk to learn how to essentially transmit your brain patterns into the heads of whoever you’re speaking to. Wild.

How Can You Change Someone’s Mind?

Hugo Mercier’s a cognitive scientist, asking a question I had a stab at answering in a piece about arguments on Reddit. And in this animated short, he’s telling you what to do once you’ve arrived at that mental common ground.

This is where your baseline of communication becomes a position of influence. It’s where you put out fires, get processes moving, and ultimately deliver offers. And where, occasionally, you’ll encounter an opinion at odds with your own.

In which case, you might need to talk your candidate or client round into taking in your birds eye view of events. This video’s a quick, useful run down of why that’s so important, and how to go about it.

How Miscommunication Happens (And How To Avoid It)

Katherine Hampsten’s an Associate Professor of Communication, and in another short animated video is voiced by a chap called Addison Anderson, talking about something that’ll completely destroy any recruitment process.

Miscommunication’s never as disastrous as getting the decimal point in the wrong place on the contract, but it manifests in all kinds of micro ways. Like the importance of key details on a job description, impressions gleaned from interview feedback, or which way the hiring manager might be leaning.

It’s what happens when you’re communicating away from that common ground the first two talks mention. And it can easily slow down – or outright stop – even a nailed on recruitment process. This talk covers four things you can do to avoid that happening.

How Changing Your Story Can Change Your Life

Lori Gottlieb’s a therapist, columnist for The Atlantic and New York Times bestselling author. Here, justifying why storytelling’s one of the most crucial skills in the world for a recruiter to master.

You’ll need to use it any time you’re selling a job, a candidate, or your services. And doing so well will have an knock on effect in the ROI stakes each time.

But it’s also about the stories you tell yourself. What you believe, how you position a situation, or go about making lasting change.

There’s quite a finite end to this talk but an uplifting message bolted on. And buried within it, some sound branding advice. Not least “what would happen if you looked at your story and wrote it from another person’s point of view?”

Lost In Translation: The Joy Of A Jargon-Free World

You might not be focused on reeling off an elaborate story once you’ve finally got the ear of your number one target client. Or you’ve managed to steal five minutes of phone time with a walking placement on their lunch break.

Sometimes, good communication’s just about getting your message across clearly, succinctly, and impactfully.

Thea Knight’s a Behavioural Strategist on a mission to simplify the way we speak. And in this talk spends five minutes making fun of the kind of meaningless buzzwords that all too easily find their way onto the homepage of Indeed. Ending on three concise, fittingly jargon-free tips to finding a more human, more compelling voice.

One of those rare TED Talks in that this one’s actually funny.

How To Lead A Conversation Between People Who Disagree

Eve Pearlman’s a journalist committed to “reinventing and reinvigorating journalistic practice”. Pulling from modern examples of a divided world, this talk covers some ground rules for communicating in fundamentally quite negative circumstances.

Recruitment’s not all about making placements. Occasionally, you might need to mediate potentially touchy situations between your candidates and clients.

A dispute over interview feedback, salary negotiations, a mild scandal at the work christmas party. Being able to marshall those kind of conversations can make the difference between runners extending their contracts or not, and perm placements staying where they are over time.

And you can take the same insight into disagreements you yourself experience. Like submitting a shortlist and having everyone on it rejected.

In this case, your hiring manager’s disagreed with your picks. You might disagree with their judgement. This talk promises to help you resolve the two.

How To Disagree Productively And Find Common Ground

Julia Dhar’s a behavioural economist and champion debater with advice on what to do when you find yourself disagreeing with someone. Which is, returning to a familiar theme throughout these talks, to communicate from a bedrock of common ground in the first place.

With real world research and anecdotes concerning cardigan aficionado and American treasure, Mister Rogers, this talk’s all about how to make disagreements work for you.

Disagreements are more frequent than agreements in recruitment. They’re present virtually every time someone says no to a candidate, a job, or the prospect of working with you in general.

And this is advice on how to win those kind of debates. From someone who’s won plenty of them.

10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation

Celeste Headlee’s an author and radio show host – someone with plenty of experience articulating, broadcasting, and engaging with different points of view. And in doing so, has nailed down ten home truths that improve any conversation.

If you’re interviewing candidates, sat in a review meeting, or taking a job brief from a client, this is all excellent advice to follow to maximise the way you’re communicating.

None of which is particularly complicated, and it touches a number of themes raised throughout other talks in this article.

One to return to regularly when the need for a refresh arises.


The rest of our TED Talks For Recruiters series is here.

You’ll find curated content on topics from Failure, Empathy and Mental Health to Career Advice, Motivation, and Decision Making. So wherever you are in your recruitment career, there’ll be actionable insight just waiting for you to watch.