TED began in 1984 as a conference to bring together people from the fields of technology, education, and design. It has since become one of the most prestigious conferences of its kind. It’s probably most notable for its “TED Talks:” 18-minute talks on some subject by an expert with an idea worth sharing. It doesn’t matter who you are, from Mike Rowe to Sir Ken Robinson to Bill Gates to Sergey Brin and Larry Page – you stand up, make as much sense as you can for 18 minutes, then sit down. 18 minutes is just about the perfect length for such a talk. It’s long enough to lay out the basics of almost any idea, but short enough to force the speaker to state it concisely and with elegance.
Having watched TED Talks for years, I’ve come to think of them as the ultimate demonstration of the communicator’s art. If you can set heads on fire in 18 minutes, you’ve really done something. It’s a challenge that I’ve wanted for years to meet. The problem is that you don’t really go to TED with your spiel. TED comes to you and asks.
Until now, that is. TED has announced that half of the TED2013 talks will be slotted through auditions. In TED’s words, “A series of special TED salons in cities around the world will enable us to discover a broad new array of thinkers and doers. And the best of them will be invited to California in February 2013 to share their work with the world.”
The application window for the New York auditions is open now. In addition to the written part of the application, you have to submit a new one-minute video. I wrote, shot, and edited mine today. Something like six hours to produce a single minute of video. But the prospect of having a shot at 18 minutes on stage in Long Beach is more than worth the effort.
If the video and the rest of the application do what I hope they’ll do, the next stop is New York on 7 June for a live audition.
Just like aviation itself, this is a challenge worthy of my efforts and the efforts of the other applicants all over the world. I’ll finish the application tonight, hit the “Submit” button, and keep 7 June open.