Faith Harper was a fan of TED and its reputation for eclectic speech topics long before she heard the radio ad exhorting San Antonians to apply to speak at the 2012 TEDxSanAntonio event. Her initial enthusiasm for taking part, however, was tempered by concern over how receptive a conservative city like San Antonio would be to a licensed therapist specializing in relationships and intimacy.
TED, which stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design," is a nonprofit devoted to the sharing and exploration of "ideas worth spreading." Created as a four-day conference in California nearly 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives.
The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes each on a diverse mix of topics. In the TED spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDxSanAntonio is our local, self-organized, spun-off event that brings people of the Alamo City together to share a TED-like experience. The next TEDxSanAntonio is slated for October 18, 2014.
Harper need not have worried. Her presentation was universally well-received and her message about the importance of human touch and frank sexual dialogue—encapsulated by her trenchant opening question, "If sex is about pleasure and connectedness, why are we so quiet on the subject?"—resonated with listeners during and after the talk.
Most importantly, she was able to communicate her personal point of view on matters of intimacy and sexual communication while delivering a message of hope and optimism.
Harper had spoken many times previously, but said she did not fully appreciate the magnitude of commitment when she signed on to speak at TEDxSanAntonio. It included long sessions with curators and coaches to refine her message and ensure that key points were hit in the brief time allotted to each speaker. Harper said she made many new friends and colleagues in the process.
She has since been approached and told repeatedly of the impact her remarks had on the personal lives of others. Her advice to future speakers?
Embrace the coaching/curating process, and realize from the start that it’s a big commitment, albeit one made more doable by the expertise and encouragement of the coaches who work with 99 presenters. Be true to your personal goals for the experience, even if these may initially seem to be at odds with the traditions of TEDx, and even if your heart says you may stir a bit of controversy along the way.
If you have a big idea you feel is worth sharing with others, apply at www.tedxsanantonio.com/speakers by Sunday, July 6.
*Featured/top image: The first TEDxSanAntonio salon hosted by Geekdom. Photo by Iris Dimmick.