TED Conferences is a nonprofit organization that originally began as a four-day conference in California over 30 years ago and has grown into a worldwide initiative that invites leading thinkers to speak for 18 minutes or less on a wide variety of topics.
Commonly known as TED Talks, these events have grown in popularity over the past decade and serve as a platform for speakers to provide viewers with diverse points of view and information on relevant topics to seek a deeper understanding of the world around them.
TED speakers are experts in their respective fields and are notoriously passionate individuals who acknowledge the power of ideas and want to share their own perspective on certain topics in hopes of impacting the lives of their listeners. There have been many notable speakers in the past that have given TED Talks, including Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and Sal Khan, in addition to many lesser known names who have shared equally compelling stories.
TEDx is a grassroots initiative that was created to capture TED’s overall mission in a more community-based way. These events are organized by individuals who are passionate about furthering the mission of TED by sharing local research and sparking deep discussion among their community members.
At the University of Connecticut, the annual TEDxUConn event is an independently organized TEDx event that is entirely run by students. TEDxUConn provides the opportunity to share and hear ideas by faculty, friends and UConn students that work to foster creative thinking and shed light on next-generation ideas.
“TEDxUConn provides the opportunity to share and hear ideas by faculty, friends and UConn students that work to foster creative thinking and shed light on next-generation ideas.”
By now, in its seventh year of operation, TEDxUConn has had a wide array of speakers that have explored different themes and have taken a deeper look into various topics that affect society and, more specifically, the UConn community.
To provide some context on past conferences, in 2018, the event was entitled “Zero to Hero,” and focused on the encompassing nature of growth factors and the distinctive processes one goes through that induce change. Whereas in 2015, the theme was “Deconstructing Humanity” and focused on what actually makes each of us human. This wide spectrum of themes allows each year to concentrate on a different aspect of society that provokes one’s imagination and allows for the creation of new ideas.
The 2020 conference looked much different than past years. To adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic and the limits that it has placed on large gatherings, TEDxUConn transitioned to a fully virtual event that was held via live stream on Oct. 18.
“This year’s conference was different from past years in which we held it virtually and asked all our speakers to pre-record their talks for us to show on the live stream,” Vincent Huang, a seventh-semester civil engineering major and president of TEDxUConn, said.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Patchwork” which was the same theme as the spring 2020 conference. The decision to use this theme was aimed at exploring how individual pieces contribute to the end result.
Speakers were asked to pre-record their talks so they would be ready prior to the live stream. The event featured many pandemic-related talks that were relevant to the current situation we are in. Lindsay Angelo presented, “The Business Model Puzzle: How Brands Thrive in Crisis,” which was a timely discussion of how brands that use the self-actualization economy are more likely to be successful during and after a pandemic.
Another talk that was relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic was entitled, “Creativity Connects: How to Heal the Environment in a Global Pandemic” which was presented by Amy Oestreicher and discussed how to reconnect with nature while we are isolated from one another.
Despite the challenges that come with transitioning to a virtual setting, the conference received positive feedback from both the speakers and viewers.
“We generally have received positive feedback from our speakers who were glad to have received the opportunity to deliver a TEDx talk,” Huang said. “In terms of how the conference went, the live stream went smoothly, and we received 150+ views, which was expected.”
In terms of how the conference went, the live stream went smoothly, and we received 150+ views, which was expected.”
TEDxUConn has shown time and again their ability to gather the UConn community for a night of growth and enrichment. Each year, this event serves as a reminder that our ideas have value and the importance of deep thinking and reflecting on our own lives and those around us. Even with the added difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic, the TEDxUConn 2020 Conference prevailed and was a successful night for all of those involved.
If you are interested in learning more about the speakers at the 2020 TEDxUConn Conference, visit the TEDxUConn website.