Thursday, September 12, 2019

My answers to four questions as a TEDxGreenville Curator.

I am honored to be selected as a curator for TEDxGreenville. For many years I have been behind the scenes so I am intimately familiar with TEDx and Greenville.  I attended my first TEDx in 2011 and was inspired by the quality of people and the intensity of the TEDx program format. In 2012, I was invited to lead the technical production team, which included doing all of the video recording, slideshow production, audio recording, and projection. Post production editing was included in that as well.

Since then, I have been selected to produce all of the events in multiple venues throughout Greenville. I've come to know some capable and experienced team members, many of whom are volunteers. The dedication of the TEDx community is inspiring.

I composed underscore music for TEDxGreenville videos for the Kaleidoscope, Imprint, Express, and Unknown conferences. I anticipate I will be composing again for TEDxGreenville 2020.

I produced and edited about 300 videos from conferences, salons, and other TEDxGreenville events.

The August 2019 TEDxGreenville Salon program included an introduction and Question and Answer session for the incoming curator team. In case you weren't in attendance, here are the questions I was asked. The answers here are a little bit expanded from what I said at the Salon because of time constraints there.

Question 1) What are some of your favorite TED talks and why?

My favorite talks open up my thinking by making connections between diverse topics, some inspire me to be curious to investigate further. Others give me a vivid glimpse into the life and feelings of another person. All of them persuade me to change my mind.

Things like putting health screening in barbershops or giving running shoes to homeless people to give them a purpose are some of my favorites because they’re just really good practical “let’s do that” ideas. And, they didn't just stay ideas. These people went out and did it and we can go do it, too.

One talk that really had an impact on me was the medical first responder that had to decide what to tell severely injured people when they asked if they were going to die. When accepting the truth, people wanted to know that they were loved and their life had value and they mattered in the world.  It sparked the idea in me to let people understand that they are valued and loved while they are alive and not wait until a final moment of life.

Question 2) In your opinion, what makes a great TED talk?

For me, a good TED talk tells a story that recreates your idea in my mind as I listen. It has a clearly communicated concept that I can add to my feelings, not just to my knowledge. Sometimes, it’s cleverly identified when someone says, “My idea worth spreading is…” But the real substance of the story is something I can only get from you. By sharing your feelings and first-person perspective, I get to experience the reality you experienced surrounding that moment you're sharing. That’s something I can’t look up on Wikipedia or find on the Internet.

One talk that stood out to me at this year's TEDxGreenville UnKnxwn conference was delivered by Keith Groover. His talk was about creating a new musical instrument. I think it was a perfect example of blending technology, musical entertainment, and design into a completely new concept.

Question 3) Tell us about the curation process you are bringing to TEDxGreenville.

The Achilles heel of TED is the humans who decide which good ideas are worth spreading. We’re all human, we have biases and favorites and agendas and we do what humans do, our attention narrows to see what we want to see. I believe that having a team of curators will help identify and nullify the bias barriers that influences our choices about which ideas resonate for our community. 

There is an added responsibility on the curators to promote good ideas, not just good pulpiteers. TED is a huge social capital generator that can launch careers, drive book sales, and promote agendas. People may not even look at your TED talk, they may simply assume your authority or your status just because you stood on the red dot. I think the value that the audience receives should be as great as the social capital gained by the presenter.

A goal for me as a curator is to expand my connections into the community of Greenville and discover people who have good ideas. They may not end up on the TEDxGreenville stage, but the activity of making connections benefits all of us.  I want to expand my network and listen to people who are in my immediate community with great ideas to share. TEDx is just as much about listening as it is speaking and I like to make new friends.

Question 4) Why are you so passionately involved with TEDx?

TEDx provides a highly effective forum for sharing and listening and creating meaningful connections. If you reduce societies, organizations, even families, to their fundamental building blocks you have two things: people and conversations. Having conversations and sharing stories creates relationships.  The depth of our relationships is directly related to the content of those conversations or stories. Whether it’s sitting around a campfire, sharing around the dinner table, chatting in a coffee shop, we have conversations that connect us, inspire us, prepare us, and create the possibilities of what real relationship between people can be. 

We're not just spreading good ideas, we're spreading experience and wisdom.