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January 23, 2019

Months and months of preparation, finally culminating into a variety of impactful speeches integral to the betterment of society. TED Conferences LLC is a media organization that posts online talks for free distribution under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” The organization was primarily established in February 1990 by Richard Saul Wurman and has been held annually since.

Upon arrival at the website, viewers will come to the realization that there are 3000+ talks present, all of which are promised to stir your curiosity. Over recent years, TED, TEDx, and other TED-style talks have all gained an abundance of popularity (TEDx refers to independently organized events held in local communities).

TED Talks are concise 8-20 minute speeches which vary in a wide range of topics, speeches ranging from “Challenging the perception of belonging to“ to “Why is there a “b” in doubt?” At ISB, juniors have been presenting TED Talks since 2012.

Although the speeches end up being at most, eight minutes long, the entire thought provoking process begins months before in November. All juniors are expected to present their individual TED talks about two weeks prior to December break, which is a graded assignment. Once all students have presented, each English class votes on who they believe presented the best TED Talk in their class, resulting in roughly eight students being selected. These students then rehearse thoroughly during the entirety of their December break, and then deliver their speeches to a wide audience in the CCT. These speeches are also recorded, edited, and then sent to the official TED website, where anyone can access them online. Xuan Fan Loo (11) remarks, “I enjoyed giving a TED talk though it was one of the hardest experiences of my life to this moment. It was horrifying but incredibly rewarding and I learned many things about myself and public speaking.”

For most, giving a TED Talk is the highlight of their High School career. Anatta Taniwongse (11) mentions, “while I must admit public speaking is probably not my natural habitat, I did definitely end up enjoying the challenge, largely thanks to all of the support and encouragement from everyone who helped to organise the event.” One advantage that emerges from the process, is the development of one’s public speaking skills, and the boost in confidence, knowing that they have the capability to give speeches in front of large audiences.

On the flip side, one the biggest challenges juniors face during this time is the additional stress of choosing an appropriate topic which they can confidently talk about for eight minutes. Fizza Mobin (11) shares, “my biggest piece of advice for upcoming juniors is to choose something you are passionate about. This is going to make researching and creating slides and even memorizing so much more interesting and worthwhile, because you are willing to put in the time and effort for something that genuinely fascinates you. In the end you will feel proud of your work because you gained valuable knowledge that you attained through your own motivation and drive.”

Additionally, Montawan Chairatchaneeboon (11) explains, “believe in yourself! Being a TEDx Talk speaker was probably one of the most memorable high school experiences. Not only did I learn to deliver a speech in front of a large audience, but it also enabled me to truly reflect on the topic that I am passionate about while encouraging others to see the benefits of it as well. The hard work we put in revising and rehearsing the script really paid off in the end. “

By giving TED Talks, another advantage juniors benefited from was the abundance of knowledge they gained. Months of work allowed junior to thoroughly research and perfect their ideas which were eventually shared with the rest of the ISB community. Craig Dawe (11) shares, “if you are serious about getting picked, then invest a lot of time into finding the perfect topic. Read articles, watch lectures/videos, make a brainstorm list far in advance.”

There is an incredible amount of knowledge and ideas to be spread in the short span of only seven minutes, if we are only willing to listen and communicate effectively.”

— Anatta Tantiwongse (11)

In addition, throughout the process, juniors have complained about the memorization component of the speech. Memorizing eight minutes of anecdotes, information, statistics, and maybe even humor, is never an easy task. Craig further mentions, “designate at least four days for memorization and practice, and get as many people as possible (that aren’t in your english class – you want your audience members to be hearing it for the first time) to read it.” Fizza Mobin adds,“the most challenging part for me was memorizing my speech. I practiced as much as I could in order to feel prepared and ready.”

Although giving a TED Talk comes with its own set of challenges, the majority of the juniors agreed that it was a worthwhile experience that they have no regrets about. The two pieces of advice for upcoming juniors are to firstly, chose a topic which you are passionate about and that you will not mind working with for a long period of time. Secondly, take the time to memorise the speech to the best of your ability — presentation is important!

In my opinion, giving a TED Talk is a valuable experience which will stick with you for a lifetime. Make the most out of the opportunities given to you, and work hard while enjoying the experience! 

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