TED Talk: 8 Secrets of success

Here is another great TED Talk I used in class with my students. It is short, funny and most people find it very relevant. This class involves speaking, listening and writing about the topic of success. We all want to know what the secrets of achieving success are so this TED Talk is universally liked and students find it easy to relate to its content. It also opens up some interesting topics for discussion, which all makes for an engaging and dynamic English lesson.

The Task

I planned this lesson around the TED Talk by Richard St. John.

Start with the Before you watch section and discuss 4 questions to find out what your students think about success and being successful. Then they should predict what these 8 secrets of success might be, each little underscore = 1 letter (some will be pretty obvious, others won’t). Allow between 10 and 15 minutes for this part.

Move on to the While you watch part and play the TED Talk. Have the students list the secrets, and then take very short notes on at least 4 of them. (10 mins)

The final stage of this TED Talk lesson involves speaking in pairs, trying to identify two crucial elements of success. Allow at least 10 minutes for the final class discussion.

There is an optional homework written activity which might as well be done in class if your want to focus more on writing skills.

For more TED Talks in English classroom see this lesson about English mania.

Personal Experience

This TED Talk works really well with all ages of intermediate-advanced students. The content allows for some interesting discussion and there are some vocabulary gems like “workafrolic”, “put your nose down in something” or “big cheese” which I asked my students to interpret after watching the video.


8 secrets of success by Richard St. John

8 secrets of success by Richard St. John_Key



  1. I had done my own activity for this same Ted talk so I didn’t use this, also for the English mania one. Other talks I have used are This is what happens when you reply to spam email by James Veitch which many TEFL teachers use, A warm embrace by Jane Chen, and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, Stephanie Shirley’s fascinating talk called Why Do Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads

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