Speaker Orientation Blast!
Last Thursday night was the fourth round of what we at Ideas in Action have been calling “Speaker Orientations”. Lately, though, we’ve realized that these events are more than that. The only “icebreakers” are talk previews where exciting ideas bounce around the room; the only “expectation” is that you will give the talk of your life. The only “company benefit” mentioned was the $7M grant given to pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Norman Spack after his talk last year, an example of what is possible with the TedX platform and network behind you.
Eleven speakers pitched their ideas to a room packed with Speaker Catalysts, interns, Sparkplugs, Ideas in Action volunteers, families, comedians, former speakers, and people from MIT Media Lab who saw something interesting going on and decided to check it out. (Why comedians? They were there doing reconnaissance; this year, we’ll have our own John Stewarts constructively pushing our Speakers’ buttons.) We frequently heard phrases like “giant”, “world leader”, “great ideas”, and “exposure”; the words and ideas spilled out of people and their eyes lit up as they heard inspiration from their fellow speakers and catalysts.
But the main difference between this and a normal orientation meeting was clearly the fun we had with the talent we had in the room. From Amir Rubin, Chief Parakeet of Paracosm, who is developing 3D mapping technology, to Erica Dhawan, whose bestselling book about collective intelligence explains how to grow record-breaking pumpkins, to Kenneth Sebesta, who convinced the entire assembled audience that drones are going to have to behave more like bats in the years to come, each speaker captivated our conference room audience in a sure preview of great things to come in November. Joe Goodwin, an Iraq War veteran currently fighting MS, talked about the call to service, and Colin Stokes discussed the discomfort many white people feel trying to figure out their roles in addressing racism, how it often leads to reevaluating people we thought of as heroes. We learned new terms: Rachael Pritzker explained the concept of “Wicked Problems” and why taking care of the environment seems to be one, while Suzette Robotham taught us about the lack of fulfillment called No Name. Throughout the pitches, the audience would ask questions, crack jokes, and give speakers feedback about how to most effectively convey their ideas and develop their outlines into full-fledged talks. The brilliance was just flying around the room. And at the end, we broke for delicious Thai food and stimulating conversation.
We had been awed to hear the pitches before, but now we’re even more excited to see them evolve into talks. If any of this sounds interesting to you, check out the video – we recorded the whole thing, and hope to have it up on our site soon. We hope it’ll inspire you to come out to some more of our Speaker development events in September! Who knows, something you say there might even make it into a talk!