Chatting with TED

Concordia to have TED talk in February

TEDxConcordia, an independently organized offshoot of the global conference series on technology, entertainment and design, is coming to Concordia on Feb. 12.

With hundreds of millions of views of its talks online and with the mission to disseminate “ideas worth spreading,” TED is considered the premier global event for speakers.

“We want to bring some of TED’s magic to Concordia,” said David Chouinard, the head of PR and marketing for the Concordia event. “We are happy to have the TED brand because people who are aware of TED instantly get what we want to get across.”

In the planning stages for the past four months, the TEDx series at Concordia will be a one-day event with up to 14 speakers that has been leant the prestige of the global series. Chouinard hopes that it becomes an annual event.

“It all started with a lunch meeting with Judith Walls[a JMSB Professor who specializes in corporate and social responsibility], about 14 months ago,” said Nicholas Meti, the curator of the event. “We were talking about TEDx which had just launched and what started off as more of a sustainability thing soon shifted directions and it has since become something much more comprehensive.

“Its now about bringing TED to everyone at Concordia.”

While only two speakers have been signed, the organizers hope that a postering campaign that began at Concordia last week will bring in more names for them to look at. Both are aiming for a wide diversity of speakers for the 18-minute talks.

“We are trying to scout the gems of Montreal, the people with fascinating stories that people have never heard about,” said Chouinard. “We have an industrial designer who designs toys for blind people and it is fascinating, it is so interesting, but no one knows about it.”

According to Meti, student speakers will be a focus of the event. He is offering exposure to entice interested students to come forward, as all the videos will be posted on YouTube.

With the speaker series to be held in the D.B. Clarke Theatre, currently being torn up as part of a large renovation project, TEDx has had some support from Concordia.

“The university is very into our project, but apart from that they haven’t given us anything beyond some PR,” said Meti. “We are striving to be independent.”

Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota confirmed that the university had offered no financial support to the event.
“The organizers did ask us for a sit-down meeting to help them with the promotion and the media,” she said.. “We haven’t actually met, but we are going to help them in the very near future.”

The remaining question for the organizers is how to limit the number of students who can attend. While a ceiling of 350 attendees paying $20 has been placed, the organizers have yet to decide if spots will be decided on a first come first serve or application basis.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 13, published November 9, 2010.