A day well-spent at TEDxMcGill

Last week I was fortunate to spend the day at TEDxMcGill, being inspired by a series of short presentations along the theme of “Relentless Curiosity”, by individuals in the McGill community.

‘TEDx’ is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to the mandate of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading.’ The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes (plus or minus).

For anyone who’s seen my newsletter – and gone through the ‘speech video analyses’ category of this blog, you’ll know that I’m always scouring the TED website in search of the latest, greatest speakers who can really bring a topic to life. There are no shortage of amazing speakers to learn from, both in terms of their unique and masterful content, as well as the different and intriguing ways in how they delivery it.

TEDxMcGill was a great experience to watch, as kind of a ‘TED-lite;’  a place where I was able to see ‘up-and-comers’ who may one day end up on the real TED stage, thanks to the ability to recount their experiences, theories and ideas so eloquently. 

Certainly there were speakers who stood out more than others, with heartfelt personal stories, unique ideas of how to change the world, and persuasive talks designed to educate and impact the audience.  All speakers were wonderful, but I especially liked watching – and listening to – Lee Park on her violin, Salma Moolji share stories about her experiences as a volunteer in Nicaragua at 16 years old, and Michele Morningstar’s examination of the rhythm of languages and their role in rehabilitating aphasia patients (and thanks to Michele for introducing me to a very cool new slide program, Prezi).

As a speech coach, I couldn’t help but notice how a couple of speakers could have refined their speaking style by avoiding some of the ‘usual suspects’ of delivery distraction, like pacing back and forth relentlessly or looking at their slides too often (even when the slide was just an image, and didn’t change).  Furtunately, content was generally quite strong, which allowed me to put aside my critiques about delivery and focus instead on what the speakers were saying.

Some of the speakers were simply amazing. To listen to some of these students talk about where they’ve been and what they’ve accomplished was truly humbling. I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing about their continued accomplishments in the future.

Finally, congratulations to the organizers and volunteers who made TEDxMcGill run so smoothly. These behind-the-scenes individuals were friendly, helpful and professional, and ensured that attendees got the maximum out of the event.

Learn more about the TEDx events:

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