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TED Talks have been around for quite some time. The brainchild of Richard Saul Wurman as a celebration of technology, entertainment and design, the first TED conference was held in 1984, five years before the Internet was born. They have now spun off independent, local versions, known as TEDx events, and Detroit hosts one of these annually.

I took the opportunity to attend TEDxDetroit 2019, intrigued by the mission to simply “spread ideas,” and found the quick talks to be a wonderful melange including comedy, a magician and a voice-over actor, among others.

Although the audience had little to no idea what the presenter would talk about when they took the stage, what impressed me was the fact that each speaker seemed really excited about life. TEDx is predicated on the audience being open-minded, with no preconceived notions. This keeps TEDx fresh, engaging and interesting and it requires the audience to look at things in a non-linear fashion. Everything draws your attention because you never know what to expect.

I liked it a lot, and when asked to reflect on the experience, I thought I’d share a few insights. 

If you want an idea to spread, think of it as a sound bite.

There is a disconnect between how we talk and how we listen. Trim what you say down to 12 seconds. If you can’t explain your message in a sound bite, it’s time to cut stuff out. 

The resulting outcome is entirely dependent upon the questions we ask. 

We hardly ever achieve everything we set out to do; however, we often achieve more than we intended. It’s important to focus the conversation beyond the foreseeable future. Stop looking for better answers to the original questions. Instead, start asking better questions. 

Don’t allow the boxes you put yourself in… to box you in.

Don’t put yourself in a box. Don’t give someone else the power of interpretation. 

Celebrating 35 years, TEDx is an energizing concept and it continues to spark new ideas and generate far-reaching conversations. As a change catalyst, it asks that we put all our cards on the table.  

Actually, I’d love to present someday.