Probably a decade ago, I saw a TED Talk video for the first time. I assumed the speaker’s name was Ted. Years later I was having a conversation with my boss and when he mentioned TED, I said, “Oh I love that guy!” He chuckled and explained it’s not a guy, but various people speaking about all kinds of ideas. Even if you’re not familiar with the name, you’ve probably seen a popular TED Talk video or two on Facebook.
Recently TEDx came to our little town and I had the opportunity to attend. There were 13 unique talks, but one speaker in particular gave an especially extraordinary talk, and I felt fortunate to experience it…I also feel fortunate to be married to him.
Here’s Kevin’s 10-minute TED talk, Artificial Unintelligence.
I can’t really expand on his content because I’m quite opposite of him…he’s a techie and I’m a creative. But I can sure share about the behind the scenes.
The speakers aren’t paid…they are essentially volunteers. Applicants submit a video simply explaining their topic. I was surprised they didn’t require the entire completed talk. For about 3 months, they all worked with their coach, Andrea (who was also gave a talk). She really knows her stuff and gave sound advice (at one point it was the same advice I already gave him, but yeah…).
Having taught many classes for years, Kevin is no stranger to public speaking, but this was a completely different experience for him. It’s probably also worth mentioning he was the only speaker with a toddler at home. I did my best to help him have as much practice time as he needed. And I got to help a little with his content, too…the slide with the code on it (they require a huge font size but I explained to him the code itself is actually functions as an image and doesn’t have to be that size text). I also suggested the line, “Resistance is futile,” because unlike the typical nerd, Kevin isn’t into Star Trek.
The speakers were given one free ticket, which I very much appreciated, because they were not cheap (at $75). They sold out quickly too, because with it being the first TEDx in the area, they were only allowed to have so many. So the seats were not filled and they had the volunteers, production crew and even the speakers come fill in seats to make the audience shots appear more full (did you spot Kevin’s identical twin?). I assumed it would be held at the performing arts center (where they have plays and the ballet, etc.), but it was at an art gallery, which I didn’t even know has a theatre.
I lucked out having friends there– Shantel, Jon and Jesse. It was so fun to sit together for the talks and hang out during the breaks. I can’t imagine going through the whole day alone. I didn’t know we chose seats under a spotlight and my shiny forehead would be in the audience shot, but thankfully no one cares about that!
Kevin was thrilled he was placed second in the lineup, because he didn’t want to be first, but wanted to get it done without having to wait for hours getting more nervous. When his moment finally came, he was ready. He wasn’t anxious at all, and as our friend Jon put it, “He CRUSHED it!”
But right after Kevin, the sound system took a nose dive. The mic went off while someone’s mic backstage went on. I’m not sure I’ve ever cringed inwardly so much. It continued with the fourth speaker, Karima, who was another one of my favorites. Still in high school, she was their youngest speaker, so I felt for her especially, but she handled it gracefully. I think I would have cried. I know that she and the third speaker had to redo their talks over the lunch break so they could be recorded again. I’m looking forward to watching them without the technical difficulty interruptions!
Otherwise, the event was superb, not only because of the speakers, but all the hours of hard work put in by the organizers Josh and Amanda. They were there from start to finish, choosing the venue, coordinating volunteers, reviewing applications, and hosting the meetings, the speaker social, and the event itself with introducing the speakers. What’s even more impressive is how young those two are. Orchestrating such a grand event is not something I would have even considered tackling at that age.
Here we are at the social the night before, then the day of.
Regarding my fashion, I was probably over-dressed a smidge, but I didn’t care in the slightest because when else am I going to get to wear those outfits?! And I just owned it! It wasn’t a formal event, but since my long dress looks more like a shirt and skirt, it wasn’t too over-the-top. I made both my necklaces…it was late November so I wore my holly necklace, and a long iridescent necklace for my my ‘oil slick’ dress (which got covered up by my name tag but oh well). I made a couple more of each necklace and sold them in my Etsy shop.
Back to Kevin…I’m so incredibly proud of him, and while I know it was his day, I’m thrilled to be his lady and get to experience it too.
Have you ever seen a TED Talk that made you think? What did you think about Kevin’s? If you gave a talk, what would it be about? If you went to a TED event, what would you wear? Let me know with a comment!