Immersed in Innovation

TEDxBeaconStreet’s process of preparation for our Speakers is truly unique.

When you see a TED talk, you get to connect with the speaker for about 10–15 minutes. That’s all they get: 10–15 minutes to introduce themselves, connect with you, share their idea, and get you, their audience, to believe in that idea enough to take it out into the world.

That’s a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time. It can take weeks or months to condense a complicated innovation, an emotionally charged plea, or a lifetime’s work into those few minutes. TED talks are more like an iceberg, and most people only ever see the tip.

At TEDxBeaconStreet, we’re a little different.

We’re lucky enough to live in a community full of brilliant, engaged, creative people, and we take full advantage of the resources around us. Our talks are collective products, and our whole community is part of their success.

Some of our volunteers have years of experience writing talks and speeches. Some of them have technical expertise, and they can ask the tough questions. Some of them are students, and their bring their inquisitive minds and fresh perspectives to our process.

But let’s back up a minute, to how it all gets started.

TEDxBeaconStreet Speakers are recruited months before our yearly event in November. Early in the summer, we ask people, “What do you want to share with the world?”

But we don’t just recruit Speakers; we find each one a team that will help them give the talks of their lives.

A Speaker Catalyst provides feedback

Each recruit gets a Speaker Catalyst, a dedicated guide to the TEDxBeaconStreet process. Our Speaker Catalysts help their Speakers write, edit, rewrite, and practice their talks until they’re perfect. They help Speakers find outlets to put their ideas in action. They organize small group rehearsals so Speakers can get feedback from fresh perspectives. And they guide Speakers through the preparation process, helping them create their slides and other materials so they’re all ready to go in November.

We recruit volunteers to write for our page, solicit donations of food and supplies for our event, hang posters, greet guests, and otherwise create a super experience for our Speakers.

And we recruit Speaker Sparkplugs, who commit to showing up to our rehearsals all summer and fall, to help ideas evolve into powerful talks.

Our Speaker Class of 2016

Rehearsals are a crucial part of our preparation process. TEDxBeaconStreet starts holding rehearsals in the summer, inviting Speakers to come in and pitch their ideas to a group of strangers and receive constructive feedback.

The MIT Media Lab

These rehearsals happen all over the city. We’ve held them at Ernst & Young, the Prudential center, the Hancock tower, at several locations around MIT, and the Cambridge Innovation Center. Rehearsals have given our community access to some of the most iconic Boston landmarks. We bring our creativity and inquisitive minds to the places where the big ideas happen, and we’ve been fortunate to find open doors to some of the city’s most prestigious offices.

But more importantly, our rehearsals are open to everyone. That’s right, everyone.

Every TEDxBeaconStreet event is open to the public. We want to hear from the community about how they’re connecting to our ideas. We want to know what resonates, what makes sense, what people are curious about.

Sparkplugs listen to Emily Avant pitch at the MIT Media Lab

Past Speakers are frequent guests at our rehearsals; they love our community, and they want to help the next group be successful. Speakers’ friends and families come to support them and see how they’re doing. Volunteers who are working on different parts of the event come to hear about the ideas they’re working to magnify.

And people who work in these iconic buildings, at MIT or in the Hancock tower, stroll in to find out what all the clapping is about. Our online followers hear about the rehearsals over social media and stop by to see who’s on the list this year. Researchers who are working on Speakers’ teams and topics come to support their colleagues and stay to hear all the other amazing ideas.

We welcome feedback from all these sources and any others who offer it. We want our Speakers to feel supported, encouraged, and engaged. The talks they give are shaped by the questions asked in these spaces, and evolve over time.

Jeff Saviano presents to Speaker Sparkplugs at the Ernst & Young Cambridge offices

TEDxBeaconStreet’s community isn’t just the people who stand on stage. They’re supported by hundreds of Sparkplugs, Catalysts, writers, designers, past Speakers, organizers, and more.

As 2016 Speaker and NASA engineer Nagin Cox said, “Once you’re in, you’re in for life!”

We’re proud of our community’s effort to shape ideas and put them into action. We encourage our Speakers to take advantage of the process and the resources available to them. And we’re immensely proud of the fantastic talks they delivered this year on our stage.

Watch those talks now!