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A chance to talk about your ideas - in 18 minutes or less

Aug 03 2012

If you have compelling ideas and know how to express them in an engaging way, here's your chance to tell the world.

TEDxVictoria is looking for speakers to take part in an event Nov. 17 at the Victoria Conference Centre.

Applications for speakers are being accepted until Aug. 31. Tickets are $50 and go on sale Sept. 1.

"Our mandate at TEDxVictoria is to celebrate and cultivate the creativity of the human mind: ideas and how they shape our daily lives, how they affect those around us and the world at large, and what they can do to inform and inspire the masses," said organizer Dylan Wilks.

Jim Tanaka, a University of Victoria psychology professor, took part in a similar event last year and said it was a positive experience.

"I really like TED talks in general and a lot of people in academia enjoy them," said Tanaka.

Part of the appeal is that talks are brief - 18 minutes or less - and to the point.

"You get these windows into people's research and their lives," he said. "I think the time constraint, which they adhere to like a religion, is what's appealing about the format."

Still, he said, it was a challenge to talk about his research - how face recognition can be taught to people with autism - in a way an audience would find interesting.

Mandatory rehearsals and constructive criticism helped him hone his presentation.

"Not everyone who applies is a professional public speaker, so we try to get them to bring it all together as best as we can in preparation for the event," Wilks said.

Tanaka said the rehearsals "were the scariest thing I've ever done.

Academics are used to getting up there and talking about research, but they kept saying, 'No, we want to know your story.' "

So Tanaka talked about how he got interested in face recognition by studying how bird enthusiasts recognize different birds. He then learned how children with autism could become "face experts" by learning to see the differences.

TED talks originated in California and independently organized satellite groups have formed in many North American cities.

All of the talks will be posted online alongside thousands of others from all over the world. Some have been viewed millions of times on YouTube.

Topics have been widely varied, and include the science of motivation, paradox of choice, why we are happy, nurturing one's genius and how schools kill creativity.

The messages are delivered in a clear, direct and often entertaining fashion.

"When a speaker applies, we have a curatorial team that goes through every application to see if we can get a sense of what specifically the idea is," Wilks said.

"The potential to spread your idea out really far is apparent, so we try to make sure that, on our end, we're getting the best possible quality talks that we can."

Anyone who has ideas for a TED talk can apply, Wilks said. Innovators and critical thinkers are especially welcome.

Information is available at tedxvictoria.com.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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