TEDx Fort McMurray - Shift in Thought

Presenters for the second instalment of TEDx Fort McMurray, Shift in Thought, are gathering up their notes and their resolve, and making a beeline to Holy Trinity High School today for their first on-stage rehearsal.  Each, in their own unique way, are likely feeling butterflies, a few ounces of self doubt, and a smidgen of fear.  This is a big deal for this group.

"How are you doing with your 'umms'," I asked Claude Giroux, one of the featured presenters for 2013, visiting from West Vancouver and staying at our house.

"I'm working on it," he said.  "I only get one shot at this!"

I returned to my TEDx video from last year recently and noticed things that I wish I could have done differently.  There were a couple of words and phrases that I repeated more times than I would have liked.  We are our own worst critics.

Claude will be heading up the hill gripping his Performing Arts presentation notes for a full day of rehearsals along with an impressive list of speakers and topics:

Kevin McNiff - Sustainable Community
Brent Hughes - The Perpetual Change
Katie Long - Sisterhood
Dave Martin - When You Have No House, Build a Home
Amie Dawe - Wide Angle Pro-Activity
Lucie Bause - InTER-CoNNecTion
Lianne Lefsrud - Ugly Duckling or Golden Goos: Knowledge to Succeed in a Changing Dialog
Jenny Berube - Change Me/Change Everything
Theresa Wells - Scared to Live
Alanna Bottrell - The Sign: A Bothersome Thing

I get shivers of anticipation just looking at the names and topics. Half of them I do not know at all, half I know very well.  Together they represent a day of ideas and shifts in thought that should be intriguing, and potentially, transformative.

We have this tremendous community asset thanks to a group from last year's Leadership Wood Buffalo cohort. As their experiential learning case study, they tackled putting on the inaugural edition of TEDx Fort McMurray and hit the ball out of the park.  Many of those same leaders and additional volunteers are doing all the behind-the-scenes things to make this second iteration happen on June 8.

You'd have to be living under a rock not to know what TEDx is, but in case you are of that small minority, this is an independently produced presenters framework, modelled and somewhat controlled by the TED organization, the group that produces massive and highly revered speaker events all over the world.  In producing a local TEDx event and in being one of the presenters, you acquiesce to a set of principles and practices that must be strictly adhered to in order to move forward.

Talks can only be a certain length - no longer than 18 minutes, presenters can never be paid, they have to argue an idea or tell a story, and copyright laws cannot be infringed in any way.  You won't see a podium and you won't see cue cards or notes.  You will see a big X, a carpet and perhaps a slideshow image, or two, depending on the presenter.

Unlike a normal event you attend where you go to an online kiosk or a physical ticket centre to book your seats, with TEDx Fort McMurray you have to fill out an application form.  Organizers want guests attending the event to be there for all the right reasons.  Some days after you fill out the short questionnaire, you get an email asking for credit card information to reserve your seat.  It may seem somewhat onerous, however, it creates a mystique and sense of import that heightens the anticipation, and ultimately, the overall experience.

Fill out a TEDx Fort McMurray ticket application form here

This is going to be an outstanding day, worth every penny of the $50 you will spend to be there.  Be prepared for some thought-shifting ideas, gripping stories and unexpected surprises.


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