TEDxNashville 2017 is now a several months behind us but we are also still glowing with the energy from last April and the amazing weekend filled with curiosity, excitement, and a palpable sense of Nashville pride. This organization truly represents our community and its vitality, diversity, and position on the cutting edge of innovation and culture. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center does a fantastic job hosting, like it always does, but I have to admit that even when I’m there for a broadway show or to watch Neil DeGrasse Tyson totally capturing his audience, I can’t help but feel they’re all just borrowing the TEDxNashville stage for the evening.
My nerd-out aside, there is something objectively special about this organization. For any of you who who weren’t able to attend, you’ll be able to see highlights both on our social media pages and now the full Talks on YouTube (Just search, “TEDxNashville 2017.”) I encourage you all to check those videos out; the speakers were amazing! And I’m not just referring to their subject matter, for yes, while I agree that learning how patients can hug a fluffy seal robot to provide vitals to their nurse or caregiver is a worthy conversation-starter for any Sunday brunch (see the blog article here), the transformative “magic” of TED does not live and die by topics.
Chris Anderson, the current curator of TED, tells us that in order for a TED speaker to be successful, regardless of their topic, something both personal and powerful must occur. Yes, the red letters on the stage are pretty sweet, and the slick, almost invisible microphone headset makes the speakers all look pretty cool. And I really like how they all have some kind of video or mind-blowing photo timed perfectly with what they’re saying. But that’s not what makes a TED Talk great.
According to Anderson, the number one goal of the TED speaker is to “build an idea inside each audience member’s mind.” I loved that notion. I imagined a potter hunched over her or his lump of clay, turning the wheel, adding water when needed but always keeping one steady hand engaged. The TED speaker doesn’t rely on the greatness of her or his curriculum vitae or colorful pictures to inspire, any more than the potter relies on a shelf full of past creations to qualify the latest work as “great.” The “building of an idea” is done by leaning in, carefully crafting something layer by layer, turn by turn. Only in this way, and with the understanding that each person in the audience matters, can the TED speaker’s artful, innovative, and sometimes lonely experiment into the thinking-universe become a journey of one mind to another.
For me, Chris Anderson’s point marks the difference between merely talking and creating a shared experience powerful enough to inspire belief that one idea can change the world.
There is a lot more to learn about how to deliver a TED-worthy talk, and you can check out the rest of what Chris Anderson has to say here. And don’t forget to check here for updates on upcoming TEDxNashville news and events!