It is testament to the passion, spirit, and ideas brewing in the Adelaide community that TEDxAdelaide once again received an overwhelming response to the call out for speakers at this year’s Zoom Out event. One of the most simultaneously challenging and rewarding tasks for our group of volunteers is to curate a selection of speakers who will, on the day, present ideas which inspire audiences to challenge their perceptions. In order to do this, we take pride in focusing on the idea above all else, embracing an anonymised, democratic curation process.
We received nearly 200 submissions via the online application form, covering ideas as diverse as the people of Adelaide. Talk ideas spanned education, industry, innovation, the human condition, communications, the arts, sustainability and more. As our organisation and events have been growing and expanding over the past few years, we wanted to take an opportunity to somewhat demystify the curation process and let you in on how speakers are selected. Our team has the challenging task of turning 200 applications into 12 talks on the day, which comes from a process that we are continuously refining.
The process so far
The applications were exported into a spreadsheet, with all names and identifying data removed. These anonymised applications were then presented to the 16 -person strong TEDxAdelaide core team, with members individually shortlisting their Top Tens. Again, to remove any personal bias or sway between members, these results were tallied. Five days after the online application submissions closed, a small team of volunteers worked through the nominated Top Tens, slowly building a collaborative shortlist. All remaining entries were also briefly discussed to ensure the team hadn’t unnecessarily eliminated any potential shortlist candidates.
What we’re looking for
The team were specifically looking for talks which satisfied a number of selection criteria. If you can tick all these boxes, then chances are you’ll be receiving a call with good news.
Is there a unique, compelling idea?
TED and TEDx initiatives centre on ‘ideas worth spreading’. We’re on the look out for ideas that make us sit up in our seats and want to know more. TEDxAdelaide ideas should be able to be summed up in a one-sentence elevator pitch which is targeted towards an Adelaide audience.
Is it grounded in the ‘Adelaide’ context?
Applying to speak at TEDxAdelaide is a far cry from applying to any other city’s TEDx event. We look for people who embrace and represent everything that we, as a city, experience. This year’s theme of Zoom Out, combining the ideas of ‘two degrees of separation’ and ‘Adelaide as a big country town’, is of particular importance.
Is it reflective of diversity?
Our city is home to a collection of people from all walks of life. We like talk ideas which place unheard voices front and centre. Diversity comes in all forms too—ideas, speakers, and opinions.
Is it translatable and scalable?
We want to maximise the opportunity for our talks to make waves both within the broader Adelaide community and beyond via YouTube. Some of the most famous TED talks have been about simple ideas, which touch a common nerve with all who watch them.
Is now the right time?
Some ideas are topical, while some are more timeless. Whichever category an idea falls into, we will take the time to consider whether now is the best time to share it in order to achieve maximum impact. It may be that we have a theme brewing for 2018 and flag your idea.
Is this speaker the right one for the job?
Occasionally, we will come across a cracking idea, told from a too-familiar viewpoint. Whether it’s lived experience, a career in the field, or another personal touchpoint, we want to know why it is that you should speak on this topic rather than someone else.
Can this person communicate well?
You don’t need to be a public speaker from the get go to be an amazing TEDxAdelaide presenter. You may not even need to be a good speaker in the traditional sense. But we do want people who are passionate about their ideas, can connect with an audience, and can tell a story.
The next steps
Speaker curation is not a job we take lightly. In fact, it’s one of the most important aspects of the whole process of running TEDxAdelaide. Over the coming week, the team will meet to cut down the shortlist, revisiting these criteria, double-checking back over the rest of the applications, and holding an anonymous vote if necessary. Our first two speakers will be announced on September 14th as tickets go on sale, while the majority of remaining speakers will be announced at our Speaker Launch event on September 26th. If you’ve applied to speak at TEDxAdelaide in 2017, you will be contacted this week on the status of your application.