Speakers, TEDxColumbus

So how do we choose who speaks at TEDxColumbus?

Tis the season to coordinate the curation of the third TEDxColumbus event.  We’ve been overhwelmed with speaker nominations, much to our delight.

We thought we’d share the main factors in how we sort, debate and choose the speakers as we head into the final inning of this process.

1. Chosen speakers generally fall into one of 3 categories:

     A. Primary researcher or original artist/author

     B. Primary observer of other people’s data from a unique lens

     C. Primary experiencer (our word) of a once in a lifetime event

2. Topics and ideas they speak on can be widely varying against our theme, but we aim for:

     A. Big and mind-bending

     B. Provocative and emotional

     C. Story/anecdote rich

3. Nominations not considered are:

     A. Anything remotely self promotional

     B. Policy talks – they are usually important but dry and often politically charged.

     C. Riffs – ie one sided, research-lacking, opinionated rants.

     D. Leadership and motivational talks

     E. Speakers who do not have an intrinsic tie to Columbus

 

Once we have vetted through if a speaker and topic are a potential fit, we look at the entire list altogether. This allows us to achieve balance in narrative style, native / foreign speakers, topic, gender and ethnic diversity.  This is the tough part of the process as we always end up leaving a good speaker or idea behind.  But the audience (you), would not appreciate only talks on education, or only talks by people who have overcome a life-threatening, heart-tugging obstacle.  The beauty of a live TEDx event is the connectivity one finds between diverse topics.

We don’t have an exact statistic on how long speakers take to prepare, but our rule of thumb is at least one hour per minute of presentation, particularly if it is a new talk (even on an old idea).  The first year we had one speaker leave town from his family for 3 days to work on his 12 minute talk. Let’s say it’s a notable commitment.

But the payoff if significant. Speakers know the audience is seeking new ideas and has a wide-open mind, the shared experience with the other speakers is quite amazing, and last but not least, the value of having a TEDx video online is a fairly huge perk.

We welcome your questions and suggestions as we continue to refine and improve our process. But we ask that you only give feedback if you have attended a live TEDx event.  Watching individual talks online is not an adequate judge of the wholistic experience we work to achieve for our audience every fall.