Prestigious TEDx Talks Coming to Mississauga

If you’ve always dreamed of attending a TED Talk, you are in luck—an independently organized TEDxMississauga Talk is coming to the city this summer.

While TEDx talks are a little different from traditional TED Talks in the sense that they’re organized by independent parties who operate under a license from TED Conferences LLC, they do have to be approved by TED and they must feature talks that fall in line with the TED philosophy of spreading ideas.

For those who are unaware, TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a non-profit organization that’s devoted to the spread of ideas through what it calls “short, powerful talks.” Although the talks might seem like a modern phenomenon, they’ve actually been around since 1984 and cover more than just technology, entertainment and design.

Now, TED talks deal with myriad subjects and are delivered in more than 100 languages. Independent TEDx events help encourage the spread of ideas throughout various communities worldwide.

TEDx events are local community events and we’re licensed by TED Conferences,” explains TEDxMississauga organizer Rhyan Ahmed. “TED events are organized by TED Conferences LLC and TEDx events are organized by members of local communities.”

According to Ahmed, the process of arranging a TEDx event in Mississauga included applying to be a licensee and going through an an interview and selection process.

Basically, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers are featured in order to spark discussion and connection.

TEDxMississauga is slated to take place on Saturday, July 22 at the Living Arts Centre in the City Centre area in Mississauga and it will feature a number of profound and interesting speakers, including human rights activist Samra Zafar, author and technology futurist Ian Khan, childhood disability expert Ronald Buliung, Juice Inc. CEO Brady Wilson, communications professional Jagneet Singh, paralympian athlete Joel Dembe, Native American Spirit Flute musician Alissa Skorik, magician Graeme Reed and insauga.com founder and CEO Khaled Iwamura.

Speaker Samra Zafar

Most TEDx events generally occur on an annual basis. We work on these things year-round, it takes a good eight to 10 months to plan a successful event,” says Ahmed. “You have to screen applicants and the challenge is to select speakers that have truly powerful ideas worth spreading in line with TED’s mission. We have topics all across the board. TED and TEDx typically feature some incredible speakers who talk about a wide array of topics, including innovation and engineering, scientific discoveries and human rights activity in conflict zones.”

InSuccess - The Khaled Iwamura Short Doc from insauga on Vimeo.

Video documentary about insauga.com founder Khaled Iwamura

While TEDx talks are indeed exciting for the community, prospective listeners do have to apply to attend. Applicants who hope to attend the event have to answer a number of questions regarding the reasons behind their interest and tell organizers about their favourite TED talk and how their friends would describe their accomplishments. Interestingly enough, the application reads very much like an employment questionnaire, gauging an applicant’s suitability for the event and allowing them the opportunity to talk about themselves, their goals and their achievements.

While applying is free, those who are invited to attend must pay a $134+HST attendance fee.

Since the TEDx event features a diverse array of speakers discussing such pertinent but disparate issues as forced marriage, new media and disabilities, it’s going to function as something of a celebration of community.

TEDx speaker Jagneet Singh

There’s definitely a strong theme this year - and it’s Community,” says Ahmed. “We design our themes to be broad enough to capture unique ideas that fit under a single unifying umbrella. We’re going to hear talks about domestic violence, gender inequality and people living with disabilities. Really, the idea of community is something you can look at through a lot of different lenses.”

As for the speakers are selected, Ahmed says everyone is chosen carefully.

Selecting speakers is an arduous process,” he says. “We use a comprehensive series of questions for applicants to describe their proposed talk, how it fits under the theme, and we review their previous speaking experience as well as their professional credentials. TED and TEDx speakers are known to be skilled in taking the stage and engaging the audience with powerful ideas, so it’s a competitive process.”

In terms of how one can plan a TEDx event, Ahmed says that the talks must be funded by the organizers and that any organizers, volunteers or speakers cannot be paid for their involvement. While prospective organizers are free to charge an admission fee and fundraise to cover the costs associated with the conference, Ahmed says the Mississauga event is mostly privately funded.

Mississauga has grown into a city that makes it an appropriate venue for a major TEDx event, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for supporting the TED vision here. Local sponsors help fund the event, but businesses and community organizations can get involved in a non-monetary ways as well.”

Some businesses that are involved in TEDx include well-known (and loved) community hub Studio89 and marketing and communications company Mozeo.

This summer’s event will also feature live performances.

It’s a little different from many conventions, where the attractions are usually workshops and booths,” Ahmed explains. “TEDx conferences, on the other hand, focus on a series of talks and performances. The University of Toronto - Mississauga (UTM) dance team will be performing and we’ve also got solo artists who will do some interesting performances. There will be also be an after party as well.”

As for whether applications are still being accepted, Ahmed says it’s not too late for prospective attendees to fill out the questionnaire.

We’re still accepting applications from attendees. All official TED events are invite-only and most TEDx events follow the same model. We’re looking for people who are passionate about ideas worth spreading and who interested in becoming involved in their local TEDx community. The TED presence in Mississauga is a part of a greater shift in the growth of the city. The inspiring thing about TED is it gives a platform to local voices.

To learn more, click here.

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