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Building a community of great ideas


What attracts you to the speakers of TED and TEDx?

For all of us on the TEDxCalgary organizing committee, a huge part of the attraction is that the speakers profiled on TED and TEDx are authentic, transparent people who are genuinely enthusiastic about the process of building and sharing ground-breaking and transformative ideas. All of those who speak have spent their lives developing and honing their ideas, and they come prepared to share them with the world.

When a speaker hits the stage at any of these events, they aren’t doing so for specific commercial gain, and they don’t have a great deal of time to bask in the spotlight (try sharing your great idea in under 18 minutes and you’ll appreciate the challenge!). The most significant reward that most of them will receive is the recognition that their ideas truly matter to others. They can only get this by first being willing to give the idea away to others, to share it with a community of other idea-creators who can value it.

Those speakers who stand out are not necessarily those with the slickest graphics or presentation slides. Indeed, some simply come to talk, with no other aid but their voice and the attention that their ideas command. Not all of them are the most polished presenters, and we don’t expect them to be. It’s the substance of WHAT they’re saying that matters, as much or more than HOW they say it.

The other part of the TED equation that most of us miss when we see the online presentations is the community of ideas that surrounds the speakers. Although we don’t get to hear the discussion, those in the room with the speakers are there not just to listen, but to share their own ideas and perspectives. One doesn’t simply attend a TED or TEDx event: one comes to participate.

Our approach to holding TEDxCalgary is to help build that sense of participating in a bigger community of ideas. For those eager to share their passions and try to pass on a good idea, an event like TEDxCalgary provides a public space that we lack in most modern cities. Gone are the days when, in many coffee shops (the home of all great ideas, aren’t they?), there was someone sharing their wisdom in the corner, loud enough amid the hubbub for all to hear and to participate if they cared.

As part of our reaching out to volunteers and potential participants, we often meet with them for the first time in a public space, most commonly a coffee shop. Each time, we bring along a small sign that simply says “TEDxCalgary”, part of helping to identify us to the person we’re meeting.  Almost every time, however, we see people pointing out the sign and giving us a wave, often telling the person they’re with about the last TED talk they’ve seen. Some even come up to say hi directly, and start the conversation about some of the ideas they have, or how they can be more directly involved.

If you’re one of those people, stop by to say hello the next time you see one of us out there with our sign. Or, stay tuned to our website at and our social networking channels for upcoming networking events where we want to help connect people who care about and value the ideas that TED and TEDx represent.

This is part of building a wider community of great ideas… YOUR community, and YOUR great ideas!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 2010.02.26 16:07

    I’m just watching the stream from TEDxYYC and am astounded I didn’t know about this phenomena until today. Awesome, I want to get involved.

    On the topic of “Building a community of great ideas,” — given that you run WordPress, might I make a suggestion? I’ve been playing with a plugin called “BuddyPress” (, which is a brilliant piece of software that essentially allows you to turn a WordPress install into a full-featured social network site in about three clicks. If combined with the multi-user version of WordPress (WordPress MU), it allows users to set up individual WordPress-powered blogs with the same level of functionality as, but connected as per a social network. Without the MU install, it installs really simply and allows groups, forums, profiles and some other stuff. It’s open source, looks amazing and allows a much greater level of interactivity in terms of discussion and whatnot. Maybe give it a look?

    • 2010.02.28 20:40

      Thank you for getting involved in the TEDx events in Calgary. We’ll look forward to your getting involved with TEDxCalgary as well, coming in April.

      Many thanks for the suggestions on WordPress and the BuddyPress install!

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