Calling ALL Unique Voices: Apply to Speak or Perform at TEDxMarionSquare

By Rachel Hutchisson, TEDxMarionSquare Speaker Chair
I love TED. And, no, he’s not my husband.
Ok, silly joke, but those who follow TED ( know what I’m talking about. I simply love the concept of “ideas worth spreading.” I love the entertainment, the joy, the sorrow, the full mix of emotions I feel when I watch a TEDTalk online.
Given all that, you can imagine how excited I am that TEDxMarionSquare is bringing a very similar experience to Charleston. For those of you new to TED itself, the TEDx concept is a way for local communities to host their own TED-like events, bringing together people to share in ideas that often turn into action. I’m honored to be serving on the speaker committee for the event, working with a varied and intelligent group of people who are all bringing their own ideas to the table.
As the news about the May 15th event spreads, we’re getting a lot of questions, particularly about who will be speaking. And, you know what? I don’t know who will be up there on the stage, speaking and performing. It could be YOU! Although we certainly could put our heads together and come up with some darn good ideas, we thought it was a much better approach to ask all of you. What I CAN tell you is the kind of speakers and performers we’re looking for to make this event a smashing success. We are looking for:
  • Stories – Content matters, of course. We want it to be varied, interesting and not something that is often heard through other outlets. We would like the story to fit under our theme of “Reinvent.” Think about all types of reinvention from many walks of life … science, technology, education, healthcare, art, music, fashion, food and more. What matters just as much as the content – and maybe even more – is HOW the content is delivered. We are seeking people who can take content and turn it into good stories. We want our audience to go on a journey with our speakers – not just be recipients of information.
  • Performers – We need people who can bring ideas to life, who can express their ideas not just clearly but with passion and emotion. We want people to engage, and that means our speakers must perform rather than simply talk. We also want actual artistic performers to provide interludes between speakers. These could be performances of dance, poetry, music (all kinds), song, whatever.
  • All ages and backgrounds – Sometimes when you say you are seeking “really good speakers,” people assume that the speakers have to be “seasoned.” But that’s not true. If you know someone or are someone with a story in you and a way to tell it that’s unique (whether or not you have ever stood on a stage and delivered a speech), then submit an application. This includes the youngest members of our community. We want voices of all ages, from all places in the Lowcountry (and, ideally, NOT the ones we tend to hear from a lot already). We have a talented group of coaches standing ready to work with our speakers to help each one deliver the best performance.
  • People who are ok being videotaped – This might seem like a silly one, but it’s not. One of the cool things about TEDx events is that all the talks are videotaped and posted on the website after the event. So it’s kind of important to know that this is a part of the process. If being on camera is an issue, well, then this is not the thing for you.
I know this isn’t an exhaustive list of criteria, but I hope it helps you get a better sense of what might work. Think unique, untold, unheard, funny, interesting, emotional, clever and just plain cool. Think about the person who can take that content and make it come alive. And submit ideas through our call for speakers, through January 4th. Help us ensure the inaugural TEDxMarionSquare represents the wide ranging voices of our community.