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What Makes a TED Talk Great – by Jeremy Snow. Interviews by Beth Inglish

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.

“Drink lots of water to keep from having a dry mouth. Hang out with friends and go on stage as the same person to be authentic.” – Bobby Bones on his preparation for TEDxNashville 2017 Talk.

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.

“Channel your energy into action. I practiced while running and would ask myself, “Is that what I want to say? Am I passionate about that sentence?” – Shaka Mitchell and his pre-TEDxNashville 2017 contemplations.

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.

“Three words. Wonder woman pose.” – Kira Pollack, referencing Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power poses and how Kira herself prepared for TEDxNashville 2017.

 

“Beta blocker and tequila.” – Eva Boros, telling us about her own recipe to overcome nerves leading up to her TEDxNashville 2017 Talk.

“Go over notes over and over, then schedule a relaxing day.” – Dr. Julie Adam’s serene approach to TEDxNashville prep.

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.

“Remember to breathe. Focus on the awareness of your breath.” – Dr. David Vago back-stage of TEDxNashville 2017.

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.

“I practiced alone. It’s more realistic since you can’t see the audience on stage.” – Natalie Hinkel

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!

Many thank to John Partipilo for the photography featured in this article, and to Beth Inglish who interviewed speakers behind the scenes of TEDxNashville 2017! Take a look at their work on their websites and see what a couple awesome Nashvillians are up to!

Article written by TEDxNashville Blog Editor, Jeremy Snow.

My TED Story: A Letter From the Editor

My dad cried when we had to leave China. I tell friends that my family was “deported,” but it would be more apt to say we were formally “nudged” out of the country. At nine years-old, the sudden rush to pack and then my first overnight train-ride was actually a welcome and exciting resolution to what was in the end a four-month adventure. We were headed back to Hong Kong: my glistening emerald city and the only home I had ever known. To me it was a dreamy metropolis with movie theaters, malls, and soft-serve ice cream trucks, while mainland China was intimidating, confusing, and at times jarring.Read More