I arrived in Oxford, UK today for the TED Global conference have been looking forward to this specifically for almost a year, and generally since I first heard about from friends who went to one one of the first TED (technology, education, design) conferences organized by Richard Saul Wurman. The conference’s influence has grown enormously over the last couple years through the well-produced TEDTalks web site containing free videos of the best talks at TED. Speakers like Hans Rosling and Malcolm Gladwell became rather unlikely superstars largely because of their TED performances.
TED is special. Its tagline descriptor is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” I love that. It attracts speakers and participants doing fascinating things. So far, I have heard about a courageous Yemeni fighting cyber-censorship in his country; a high powered consulting exulting the benefits of doing nothing for six months; an entrepreneur developing the Internet of Things where every object in the world is wired. During the breaks, I spoke with the founder of Transparency International, that fights global corruption. and a former journalist with Al Jazeera English. Over the next couple days, i expect to hear from many more interesting and inspiring speakers.
Tomorrow morning I will do a six minute presentation as part of TED University, a kind of warmup for the full blown 20 minute TED Talks. I have spoken at and attended many conferences, and for the last couple years have been the chair for EMEA Symposium. I have delivered hundreds of presentations. But this upcoming six minutes has me more nervous than any other presentation I have ever done. I have been practicing it most of the day, something I rarely do. Sure, I prepare, but I rarely stand in front of a mirror and practice what I am going to say out loud. When I have an hour there is enough room to work in what I know I want to say. With six minutes, there is no such luxury.
The standard of presenting here is tremendously high. These people not only do great things, but know how to talk about them in compelling, entertaining, and inspiring ways. I am going to talk about big companies doing interesting things with social software. I collected about 9 stories from customers I and my colleagues have spoken with. I whittled that down to three for the final cut. I really hope that I am not awful. A well as knowing more about great things people are doing, I hope to get some ideas that I can use in my presentations.
Day 0 has already fulfilled my hopes. I can’t wait for Day 1.