Ace co-sponsored the TEDActive 2010 conference in Palm Springs, and this music video – sparked when The John Lennon Bus drove up to the conference and invited attendees to share their ideas about what the world needs. A host of musicians worked together to create the song, and the TEDActive community turned their ideas into illustrations, with help from artist Jansen Yee.

Dispatches from TEDActive: Veteran TEDx organizers share advice on preparing speakers for the big day

TEDx'ers brainstorm at TEDActive. (Photo by Kris Krug)

This week, hundreds of new and veteran TEDx organizers have assembled at TEDActive for a week of collaboration, insight, and ideas worth spreading.

With all these TEDx'ers in one place, there’s an abundance of advice for new and prospective organizers being thrown around.

In an effort to share these insights with the world outside TEDActive, we’ve asked three experienced organizers one question: “What are the most important steps to preparing TEDx speakers for the stage?”

Below, key points from their advice:

From Mike Lungren of TEDxKC:

  • Tell your speakers from the get-go that they can’t give their usual, canned talk.
  • Never let them prepare like they’re giving a talk. Instead, make them think about it like they’re at a dinner party and telling the one story of the night that makes the whole table pause.
  • Tell them that when they step on stage they should feel comfortable to let a beat or two go by, take a breath, and anchor their feet before beginning.
  • Force your speakers to break from linear narratives. Just because their story starts in one place, doesn’t mean their talk should.

From Wardah Jamil of TEDxPhoenix:

  • Set key milestones for each speaker.
  • Ask for their full stories first, then push them to focus on the one or two most salient points.
  • Hold several rehearsals through video conference.
  • Get them on stage to rehearse at least once the day before the show.
  • Give every speaker a personal liaison dedicated to boosting their ego and calming their nerves.
  • Provide a green room with snacks, drinks, and access to their liaison. In other words, make them feel like real rock stars – confident and special.

From Ruth Milligan of TEDxColumbus:

  • Set a high standard for yourself. The event is ultimately your product and you should feel proud of the talks that you’re putting out.
  • From the beginning, establish that it’s going to be a fluid process – your speakers first draft will not be their last.
  • Use polite persistence. Stand for the quality that you expect from your speakers.
  • Get tough when you need to. Don’t be afraid of big egos. And be honest when you smell failure. If you feel that you need to cut a speaker, do it.
  • Record, transcribe, edit, repeat. Few people write like they speak and speakers that start by scripting will likely end up sounding unnatural on stage.
  • Go to where they are. In other words, guide speakers to their own deep insights. Don’t force them in a box of your design. Sometimes you’re a speaker coach and sometimes you’re a personal therapist.
  • When a speaker sounds too rehearsed, they’re not done rehearsing. Make them let go of their strict plan and rely on the fact that they understand their idea better than anyone else. And if they still don’t feel confident, make them fake it ‘til they make it.
  • Remember that no artist (or artist-type) will ever feel that their talk is done. You can only make them feel comfortable with an unfinished product.
From baby to toddler -- the TEDx community matures, and continues to expand globally

When over 300 people gathered on Sunday, February 24th at the Merv Griffin estate for what is now the 4th TEDx Workshop at TEDActive, not only did TEDx Director Lara Stein take a look back at the program’s amazing 2012 milestones – the TEDxSummit gathering in Doha, over 5,000 TEDx events and over 200 TEDx Talks on TED.com – but forward with a global community that has quickly grown “from baby to toddler.”

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TEDActive 2011


Chris Woebken is a German-American designer and innovator who is dedicated to bringing ideas for the future to life in a very tangible way. As a Lincoln Reimagine Project honoree, he’ll work with collaborator Elliott P. Montgomery to establish the “Futuring Factory,” a studio of materials and tools that allow people to rapid-prototype their ideas for artifacts that could exist within four various scenarios that could shape the world as we know it.

The “Futuring Factory” will be open for conversation, collaboration, and creation during TEDActive 2014, where TEDsters are invited to produce their own ideas for “future artifacts” alongside Woebken and Montgomery, among the snowy peaks of British Columbia. At the end of the conference, Woebken and Montgomery will place their favorite ideas and products from the week in a time capsule and bury it on Whistler Mountain. The funds from the Lincoln Reimagine Project award will be used towards an extension of the “Futuring Factory” and for more workshops throughout the year.

Read more about Chris Woebken and his #IdeasUncovered here.