June 4th, 2016


TED thoughts

koremelanaigis asked me: What do you think about TED and TEDx?
Well, I haven't been to either. Can't afford to go to TED obviously but I like that they put the videos on youtube so everybody can see the speeches, critics of their insane ticket prices lose a little cred when you take youtube into consideration. Tickets become a supply vs demand issue.

My favorite TED talk was Malala Yousafzai's father giving credit to his daughter's amazing achievements in furthering education for girls. Makes me cry every time. Like, just typing this.

I've thought a lot about Toastmasters vs. TED. Toastmasters has quietly EVERYWHERE for 90+ years, giving thousands (millions?) of people training and a platform to speak. There are a dozen or so clubs even in little Wichita Kansas. Toastmasters is open to everybody, if you attend one meeting they will likely let you give a 4-6 minute speech next week's meeting if you want, especially if you agree to pay the $20 new member fee so you get the books and stuff. My club doesn't even require joining for your first speech. So it's incredibly accessible.

I have heard so many fantastic stories about people's interests in my Toastmasters club. Bee keeping, shed building, kickboxing, disc golf, and in my club, AIRPLANE STORIES from the huge (why the Douglas DC-3 is the best airplane ever) to the tiny (how to get a 4mm white ball to float in a clear cylinder of fuel).

The downside to that model is, well, dozens of clubs in every city, quietly everywhere. These awesome speeches I heard were given to a room of less than 20 people.

So I like both. I like the river of speeches in Toastmasters, and the fireworks of TED. I think that TED is increasing the popularity of speaking in general. Heck there's even in-between - Moth StorySLAM! They're all different but all helping the same thing: talking to each other. Reading is nice, but there's so much you can't read in a book, and hearing people talk is therapeutic and interactive. There's a connection there you can't get through pages of an article.

All of these organizations give voice to people who's voices I like to hear. Ordinary but passionate people with something to say. I'm not saying Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton have *nothing* good to say, but I do think maybe their voices have been amplified enough and not always for the right reasons. Let's drop the glamour and give a voice to scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, scholars, parents, historians, travelers.

TED is part of a picture for me, not the end-all-be-all for public speaking, and that's okay.