Even before the speakers for the sixth annual TEDxCincinnati
were announced, the July 9 event, themed “Accelerate,” has sold out. (UPDATE
: speakers/performers are now listed here
“One of the things that’s interesting about TEDxCincinnati is that it’s not one speaker that makes a great event, it’s this combination of all different types of speakers and performers,” says TEDxCincinnati Director/Organizer Jami Edelheit. “It’s not like a demo day. It isn’t a company getting up and promoting what they’re doing. It’s not like a typical conference where there is a keynote speaker, then everybody else.
“It’s an event where every single story has some sort of impact or message. And it is the combination of speakers that makes it so fun and compelling.”
TEDxCincinnati speakers, still unannounced, will come from an array of disciplines, including technology, education, health, arts and social justice. This interdisciplinary approach encourages people to explore subjects and ideas that may be unfamiliar.
“TEDxCincinnati is about storytelling, sharing ideas, innovation, looking at things from a different perspective and opening your mind,” Edelheit says. “I am always amazed at the end of our shows when we ask people, ‘What was your favorite?’ If I ask 10 different people, I get 10 different answers because people are touched by different things. If you come to this and you aren’t touched by something, I would be shocked.”
This is the third consecutive sell-out year for TEDxCincinnati in increasingly larger venues. The July 9 event is being hosted at the Cincinnati Masonic Center downtown, next to the Taft Theater, with a capacity of 1,000 attendees. Given the interest, organizers might add seats to the hall and advise those without tickets to join the waiting list
The conference is an off-shoot of the popular TED Conferences
, though individual TEDx events are self-organized. Both Xavier University
and the University of Cincinnati
host student-run chapters.
Choosing the speakers and performers is an ongoing part of Edelheit’s work. TEDxCincinnati accepts speaker applications and nominations through its website and hold auditions at a special happy hour.
“Last year the (happy hour) event completely filled up,” she says. “We pick some applicants to audition in front of a panel of judges and an audience with a prepared 2.5-minute presentation. It’s not an open mike, it’s like a mini show.”
In addition to local applicants and auditions, TEDxCincinnati also brings in outside presenters and performers.
“I work with a lot of people in Silicon Valley and around the country,” Edelheit says. “I’m always looking for people we can bring in to share their stories with Cincinnati. We also have advisers in different sectors throughout the community who will refer people. That combination gives us a pretty great pool of presenters and performers.”
A new addition this year is TEDxCincinnati Youth
, a group of 100 high school students from the region who will help with the program. A few will even present.
“We realized that many teachers are using TED Talks in the classroom,” Edelheit says. “The idea is to build a community of thinkers and doers among high school students and expose our youth to TEDxCincinnati, giving them the opportunity to talk with young professionals and other people. For them to see what the future holds — after all, it’s their future.”
As part of its 100th anniversary, United Way of Greater Cincinnati
is the presenting sponsor of the 2015 TEDxCincinnati.
“They were in the audience last year and thought the different ideas and perspectives were amazing and that it would be really fun to expose their audience to TEDx,” Edelheit says.
For those lucky July 9 ticket holders, Edelheit recommends arriving by 3 p.m. for check-in. The event will start promptly at 4 p.m. To prevent disruption of the presentations, latecomers will have to wait to be seated.
The program starts with 90 minutes of speakers and performances, followed by a break for participants to explore Innovation Alley, where they can purchase food and drinks, network and explore.
“The idea is for people to have a bit of interaction,” Edelheit says. “Last year there was virtual reality, Google Glass, some robotics, things like that.”
This year’s Innovation Alley will include a Foundation Way to showcase the work of local organizations.
“The reality is that the people off the stage are just as important as the people on the stage,” Edelheit says. “There’s a wide range of participants in the audience, from students to CEOs. Innovation Alley is a time when you can just turn and start up a conversation with someone you would never have met before and time to reflect on some of the things you heard on the first half.”
The second half of the program will start promptly at 7:15 p.m. and wraps up at 9:30.
The entire July 9 event will be recorded and uploaded to the TEDx website
in August. Edelheit encourages people to watch and share the videos, as each view raises the profile of Cincinnati speakers and performers and could draw the attention of the larger TED organization.
As the event continues to grow — from 300 to 1,000 attendees in three years — Edelheit is already considering options for the future.
“We need a full day like other cities have,” she says. “The question is, is Cincinnati ready if we did a full-day event?”