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Events, Follow This, TEDxColumbus

Open Aud 2014[by Kendra Hovey]

No one is boring. I have a friend who insists this is true. Find what a person is passionate about, he says, and you’ll never have a dull conversation. If he is right, or even half-right, the evening of June 3rd should prove interesting. This is the night of the TEDxColumbus Open Audition, when anyone can show up, signup, stand on stage and engage the audience—and judges—for three minutes on an “idea worth spreading.” For anyone to do that, it’s got to take some amount of passion.

TEDxColumbus held its first open audition in 2012. I went for fun and for curiosity’s sake. For these same reasons, I attended again the next year—with some added motivation, in that I was asked to be one of the judges. On June 3rd, I will again be a judge and, as such, I will do my upmost TEDx duty, but unlike the curators with their razor sharp focus on the next event, I will be there, mostly, just to enjoy this city’s sampling of ideas, interests, obsessions, soapboxes, lifework, theories, projects, and all the rest.

In the past, this sampling has included fracking, depression, electric cars, the aesthetic experience, “how to hug a CEO,” confidence, bullying, money, boys, the iphone, education, drag queens, “the next musical interface,” more education, “chicks on bikes,” insurance, life as an au pair, risk, failure, success, veganism, education again, “collective self-actualization,” starting over, suicide, “the pain suit,” urban Zen, human trafficking, tribalism, and hubris, to name just a few.

Some came to share their life work or life epiphany, some to identify a problem, others to fix one. A handful had something to promote (quick tip: don’t bother). One, the entomologist and self-described “smartass” Mark Berman (who had already given a talk at the 2011 event), came to deliver TEDxColumbus a rather entertaining ribbing. Proving once again the infinite wisdom of the bug world, Berman used the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly to challenge the utter hubris of that year’s theme: The Future Revealed.

Out of the 45 that have auditioned so far, seven made it to the TEDxColumbus stage. But, that’s not the only goal, for some people sharing what they feel strongly about for 3 minutes brings with it it’s own kind of satisfaction.

For those interested in auditioning this year, first find out about the 2014 theme and read this post. The curators have made it clear what they are and are not looking for. Though I will clue you in to two major pitfalls best to avoid altogether. The first I already mentioned: If you come in like a salesperson, claiming to have THE answer or THE secret, your chances of making it to the big stage are zero.

Second (and this mistake is surprisingly common) do not be tempted by the Upworthy model or, for another reference point, the six o’clock news. Do not build interest and then at the end say “…and you’ll find out about my incredibly interesting results when I am speaking on the TEDx stage.” Also, do not tease your way towards your topic and then name it with a splash in the last 10-20 seconds. Just be straightforward. Be clear. If you can’t share any of your incredibly interesting results at the audition, the judges are going to assume that there are none.

So the 2014 Open Audition is happening June 3rd at the CCAD MindMarket from 7-9PM. No rsvp needed. No pre-screening. It’s open to the public. Whether you come to audition or to watch, it’s bound to be an interesting evening. And if it turns out I’m wrong, there’s also cookies.