Throughout this Winter and Spring, TEDxFlourCity will be holding auditions for their 2015 event right here at Rochester Brainery. We're pretty lucky to get a sneak peak at who might be speaking this year!
To sum up TEDxFlourCity, it is a program that brings the globally recognized TED enterprise to the local level of our beautiful city. It is a volunteer event that allows individuals from the community to have a chance to speak their mind. If you have a great idea that you want more people to know about, simply visit TEDxFlourCity website and apply to speak! You can also learn more information about the event and even view past talks on their website.
After talking with a few members of the organization, we thought we'd share some some insider information about the auditions and organization. To those interested in speaking: Listen up! There are some hints and tips coming your way...
Get Inspired to Talk!
When asked: "Why people should talk at TEDxFlourCity?" Founder and Curator William Monteith (pictured right), and Director of Speakers Ben Cross (pictured left) agreed: it's all about spreading good ideas.
Ben: “We have a big community. A lot of people might have great ideas, but the only ones to hear them might be people in their job or smaller social circle. Our major goal is to spread good ideas by giving them exposure and even connecting them online. We record all the talks through our professional videographer and sometimes they will get thousands of views online. So not only are we giving people an audience of 400 people in Rochester, but thousands online.”
Added William: "The exposure to an endless audience is a major reason to why people who want to express their ideas should talk through this program."
But, having a good idea and being able to speak it in front of a large crowd is not an easy thing.
What are some qualities of the best TEDx speakers?
Ben: For me, the first thing I look at isn’t the speaker themselves, it’s their idea. If someone tells me an idea that I haven’t heard of before but it makes sense and seems like it would do something positive, they’re definitely on the right track. After that, we like someone who really cares about their idea or has done something with the idea. Charisma and their ability to talk in front of a large audience is important, but that is something we work on with the speakers. Because of that I’d much rather have a good idea and a bad speaker, than an okay idea and someone who is really great at talking in front of a crowd.
William: I completely agree with Ben, but a word I think we missed was expertise. That is someone who not only has a great idea, but has also studied or lived it for years. The presentations the speakers actually give are not rehearsed to the point where they memorize them, but the more they talk about their topic the more they should feel comfortable with them. Almost like improvising, but they know what they’re going to say. Ideally, the speakers we find are people that may have been speaking to this at different lectures or just among friends for many years. So they have the comfort of knowing where that topic is going to go.
What is some advice to speakers who are preparing to audition?
William: Be genuine, be yourself. A lot of the time the speakers that resonate with the audience are those who are living their passion. So those who are trying to hide themselves won’t be as effective. Don’t be afraid of your differences or uniqueness.
Ben: Don’t try and tailor your talk to what you think we want. If you have a great idea, tell it to us in whatever format you think is best. Don’t try to imitate other talkers or change your ways based on them. We want to hear your idea exactly the way you want to give it to us.
TEDxFlowerCity: A Growing, Positive, and Community Event
What is the most fun part about TedxFlowerCity?
Ben: There are lot of fun parts. I really enjoy meeting people who are super passionate about what they’re doing. These interviews are really cool because the people who come in really care, or they wouldn’t be here. I get exposed to ideas, I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten exposed to.
William: The process is wonderful because there are so many people we work with. We have a few rehearsals and a practice talk where we record. If you look at them during their first stages and then the end product, for over half of them it’s like night and day. Also for our speakers, who have a profound message, you usually can find a pulse of the city. A lot of topics that were presented last year ended up becoming bigger issues and more widespread topics nationwide.
How has the response from community members been like for TedxFlowerCity?
William: Ted usually attracts a specific audience and it’s typically homogenous. The last year and a half we’ve had a focus on extended our arm into different communities and furthering our reach. One of our recent events was a Latino themed salon and a lot of them didn’t know we existed. We want a build a bridge with the leaders in the community by going out and seeking them.
How do you feel about the future of TedxFlowerCity?
Ben: The main event itself will probably stay the same size for a while. We are expanding our audience and expanding in doing salons. We’re working with more local organizations to put on small talks so that’s where I see our biggest growth.
William: The big goal is to have that consistency of events. Previously we planned to have one really good event. Now we want people to meet up and have sessions regularly. Having them meet up more often will hopefully add more of the community and then we will see what can happen after that.