Most popular TED Talk topics of all time?

The best TED Talks feature dedicated speakers and industry experts who empower audiences to question their beliefs through education. TED has revealed that their talks are collectively watched or listened to three billion times a year.

From animals to work-life balance, each talk gets attributed at least one tag with over 450 individual tags registered on the TED Talks website. So, which topic has proven to be the most popular of all time?

To find this we took the 50 most viewed TED Talks on the video site, and noted all of their tags. For example, some feature topic tags such as ‘artificial intelligence’, leadership’, ‘environment’ and so on. The quantity of tags differs per video, with some applying just two tags and others (such as Elon Musk’s wide-ranging interview) having more than 15.

The five most popular topics in the most viewed TED Talks

RankTED Talk topicsCumulative views for topic in top 50Number of top 50 videos using topic

Within the top 50 most viewed TED Talks, the topic of ‘culture’ appears 16 times. For all videos with the culture tag included, the combined views are almost 600 million (562,201,451). Notable speakers that include the theme are Brene Brown’s ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, and ‘Strange Answers to the Psychopath Test’ by Jon Ronson. The ‘culture topic’ ranks a clear 1st place, as the most included tag and accumulating the most views on the TED Talks website.

Following closely behind ‘culture’, the topic of ‘science’  has 14 videos in the top 50 viewed TED Talks on the site, the second most. However, even though it has the second most tags in the top 50, the views place the topic 4th. This is because ‘science’ features a lot in lower-viewed videos on the TED Talks top 50, resulting in 14 tags but just 313,253,738 video views, fourth overall.

In third place, the topic of ‘psychology’, which has 11 tags in the top 50 most viewed videos, and ranks third. However, purely in terms of views, the ‘psychology’ topic should rank second, as cumulatively it has accrued 388,453,436 views. Whilst high, that’s still 175 million fewer views than that of ‘culture’, highlighting just how popular the topic is.

At the bottom of the top five, ‘health’ sees just nine tags in the top 50 videos, which is seven less than first place topic ‘culture’. Similarly, ‘health’ has earned 236,595,962 views, a respectable figure but under half of that seen by the first place topic.

The top five topics: What is the most viewed TED Talk?

Rank for quantity of topic tagsTED Talk topicsNumber of top 50 videos using topicVideo nameSpeakerView count
#1Culture16Do schools kill creativity?Sir Ken Robinson75,988,121
#2Science1410 things you didn’t know about orgasmMary Roach41,225,856
#3Psychology11Your body language may shape who you areAmy Cuddy69,836,120
#4Brain10Your body language may shape who you areAmy Cuddy69,836,120
#5Health9What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happinessRobert Waldinger46,049,149

Sir Ken Robinson’s speech titled ‘Do schools kill creativity’ has the highest quantity of views within the ‘culture’ topic tag, at 75,988,121. This talk is the most-viewed of any type on the TED Talks platform, highlighting just how much this speech encapsulated and resonated audiences.

Meanwhile, Amy Cuddy’s popular talk on ‘How your body language may shape who you are’ features twice on the list, as it has tags for both ‘psychology’ and ‘brain’. The fascinating lecture on how we hold ourselves as people has attracted huge interest on the TED Talks website, bringing in almost 70 million views (69, 836,120).

Even though science has the second most tags, the most viewed video on the topic has seen only 41,225,856 views, the lowest in the top five. Mary Roach’s eye-opening talk on “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm” has yet to reach the heights of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk, but the view count is impressive nonetheless.


  1. We wanted to establish which topic on the TED Talks website is most popular
  2. To achieve this, we scraped the top 50 TED Talks from their video streaming site
  3. Once data was collected, each video’s tags were analysed and noted, until each video had all of their tags sorted.
  4. Then, we counted each tag by number of appearances in the top 50 most viewed videos, and ranked from most to least featured.
  5. For ‘Cumulative views for topic in top 50’, each video which featured the respective tag had their view count added together.
  6. All data is correct as of 01/12/2023.

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