Rebecca Perl was lucky enough to get one of the golden tickets to the recent TEDx Bournemouth University event, so I asked her to write a few words about the day in this guest post. Take it away, Rebecca…
I’ll start by explaining what TED is. I thought that unless you’d been living under a rock, you’d know all about it, but I’ve been proved wrong on a few occasions lately. TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to ‘ideas worth spreading’. It started as a conference in California in 1984 where speakers had to deliver a talk in 18 minutes or less, and has since all but taken over the world. You can watch endless TED talks on the internet by some of the world’s top thinkers and creators.
TED has allowed programs of local, self-organised events to take place all over the world under the brand TEDx. A team of go-getters at Bournemouth University decided to set up their own TEDx event with the theme ‘Creativity Illumination.’ It took place on 25th February at the university, and the audience was limited to just 100 people.
I have a huge amount of admiration for anyone who is brave enough to get up in front of an audience and share their story – some of which are very personal – so I’m not going to knock any of the speakers. They all did a fantastic job. However, there was an issue with structure in a few of the presentations. It may sound like an eternity, but 18 minutes is not long at all and some speakers tried to do too much in that time. They raced through complex ideas and numerous slides too quickly for the audience to absorb. Other presentations lacked flow and cohesion, as if they hadn’t got a solid structure worked out in advance.
I think studying the basic principles of good storytelling is always useful in the planning stage. And we have access to a whole library of TED videos on the internet; we can all take lessons from these. I bet the ones you enjoy most tell a good story.
For me, the best talks were without doubt the ones that were delivered naturally by people with passion and expertise. They didn’t try to do anything clever. They didn’t try to emulate motivational speakers. They just talked about the subjects that consume them. The two that stick in my mind were by archaeologist Miles Russel and artist Miroslav Lucan. I’m sure they did rehearse (there’s a fine line between rehearsing enough and too much, isn’t there?), but they both came across as so very natural and engaging.
Something else worth noting, which I only realised on reflection after the event, is that around half of the presenters were not native English speakers. This makes their presentations doubly impressive, doesn’t it?
The videos of the keynote speakers will be available soon, so you can see for yourself what it was all about. Until then, here are the three (amazing, fascinating, inspiring) TED videos we watched on the day: