TEDx Columbus: 5 Years in the Making

Ruth MilliganTEDx Columbus: 5 Years in the Making
By Ruth Milligan

In February, 2009 I saw a blog post about how TED, the worldwide conference that shares ideas in talks of 18 minutes or less, was starting to issue licenses to do local “TEDx” events.  As a public speaking nerd and lover of all things Columbus, I set out at that moment to apply for and curate one of the first TEDx events in the world.  And six months later on the state of the Wexner Center alongside my co-curator and co-host Nancy Kramer, we launched TEDxColumbus with 8 speakers in front of a sold-out and excited crowd of 300.

Nearly 4 1/2 years later, I am now hosting the 5th TEDxColumbus on October 11 at COSI.  Collectively, we will have featured over 80 speakers and performers, this year featuring 22 in front of a live audience of 700 and livestream of expected 5000.

As TEDxColumbus has helped to refine my professional focus from a broader PR and Marketing practice to specifically coaching and training inside Executive Speech and Storytelling, it has also made a huge difference on a number of women locally.  The platform of TEDx is a an equalizer — all presenters talk without notes or a podium and are judged primarily on the value of their idea, insight or discovery.  More importantly, it has an echo far beyond the event. The talks are recorded through a high-production value setup and posted quickly on the TEDx channel on Youtube for everyone in the world to view.

Last year’s event featured Laura Hill, Ph.D., the Director of the Center for Balanced Living, who gave a riveting talk about the source of eating disorders being biological, not environmental.  She recently wrote to me about her experience giving a TEDx talk:

“I cannot tell you the doors it has opened. I have received many emails, calls and feedback from individuals and treatment centers.  Some eating disorder treatment centers are now playing the TEDx talk at their treatment sites and report that their clients have been truly excited and feel heard.   You and TEDx Columbus made that happen and helped give a voice to their pain and greater knowledge to their experience!”

In 2011, Theresa Flores took the stage with a talk that still reverberates with the audience.  She candidly described her unthinkable experience being human trafficked as a teenager outside of suburban Detroit.  She has credited TEDx with helping advance her cause to help find other teens being trafficked, and we still track and share her story today.

While we work hard each year to assure that the stage has a balance of men and women, TED and TEDx events across the globe are constantly challenged to assure this balance happens.  We are proud that Columbus has a deep bench of insightful women with provocative ideas that are willing to take the stage and share their voice and story.  And conversely, that Columbus has a pent-up desire to be challenged, provoked and inspired that brings out the dynamic, curious audiences to hear each and every talk.

In depth stories can be found on the TEDxColumbus blog, FOLLOW THIS, written and edited by Kendra Hovey – www.tedxcolumbus.com/followthis.  Details on the annual event on October 11 can visit www.tedxcolumbus.com. Tickets are sold out, but the Peggy R. McConnel Arts Center of Worthington will host a free, live viewing of the 24 performers. Get more information on the livestream at here.

Out There Speaker Highlights:

Miram Bowers Abbott Michelle Alexander Mohamed Ali

Nancy Kramer Scott GaudiLori Guth Moffett

Domas Moss Susan Nittrouer