The TEDx event titled TEDx VillanovaU: Create, Innovate, Inspire on Friday, Nov. 22 will be the second TEDx event that the University has hosted on campus. The first TEDx event was held in March 2012. The theme of last year’s event was “Ignite Change.” Almost a year and a half later, the University is gearing up for an event that is sure to impress students and faculty alike.
Each of the nine talks this year will revolve around this theme and the personal stories of the speakers that allow them to embody and demonstrate this theme.
TEDxVillanovaU is part of the TEDx program of local events, which bring people together to share their ideas. The conference is dedicated to expressing “Ideas Worth Sharing.”
TED is a national non-profit organization, which is the inspiration and model for the event that will be happening at the University. It originally started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago. The X, which is added to the event name, stands for “independently organized TED event.”
TEDxVillanovaU will mimic TED in that all talks will be no longer than 18 minutes long. The day aims to spark conversation, inspire all attendees, provide entertainment and spark new ideas. The talks will be broken up by entertainment provided by members of the University community.
“It is like no other conference ever on campus,” said Michele Pistone, professor of law and curator of TEDxVillanovaU. “It is going to be exciting and hip.”
Much preparation has gone into this event. Pistone, who spoke at last year’s TEDxVillanovaU event, has been spearheading the planning of the event. Her talk on the future of higher education got more than 8,000 views—something she hopes will happen for this year’s speakers.
Four student-run teams are responsible for different aspects of event planning such
as marketing, logistics, entertainment and attendance. There are 40 undergraduate student volunteers who are working at different capacities organizing the event.
“It is really a way to showcase all the great ideas and work that’s happening at Villanova and get it put out to the world,” Pistone says. “It is a way to build community within Villanova.”
The selection process for speakers began in the beginning of the semester.
A call was put out for talks. Individuals responded by submitting what they wanted to talk about and a summary of their talk in September. Auditions were then held in late September and the final cast of speakers was chosen in early October.
Since then, a committee of professionals has been working with the speakers to help refine their talks.
Five-hour long rehearsals were held weekly leading up to the event in addition to the speakers working on their own and working in small groups. Speakers were trained in how to deliver their speech and were given tips on how to memorize their speeches.
The committee of speech coaches included Harriet Power, a professor of theatre and adjunct professor of law. She initially worked with the whole group on the technique of “grounding”—experiencing a fully-committed physical and psychological presence while standing in front of a group, getting comfortable with eye contact, allowing oneself to gesture freely and finding the voice.
Power, along with Helen Lafferty and a panel of four other coaches from multiple University departments, worked week to week to help the speakers prepare for the moment they step out on stage to deliver their talk.
The event will be intimate in that there will only be 100 people in the audience. All the talks will be videotaped and live-streamed to another room in Driscoll as well as online so they are accessible to all University students and to anyone else who may want the opportunity to experience the talks.
Jennifer Pohlhaus, assistant director of Multimedia Technologies, is responsible for all the technology for the event. She is working to keep the website up to speed and will be in charge of the video taping of the event, which will be broadcast to the world.
Twelve individuals will speak on Friday. The group of TEDx speakers consist of undergraduate and graduate students, professors, administrators, alumni and other individuals who are closely affiliated with the University community. Friday’s speakers are Helen Lafferty, who is the event host, Candace Robertson-James, Tom Borger, Dan DiPasquale, Patrick Meyer, Tad Radzinksi, Quinetta Roberson, graduate students Elizabeth Marafino, Polly Edelstein and Lauren Fanslau, sophomore Daniel Cluskey and senior Frankie Kineavy.
Kineavy was encouraged to speak by Gregory Hannah, academic advisor to Students with Physical Disabilities.
“I got the email for a call for speakers, saw the theme of the event and thought of Frankie right away,” Hannah said. “He is graduating, so I thought he could leave [happy]. I told him to apply, and he willingly did.”
Kineavy is excited to be given the opportunity to spread his message.
“I have been able to reflect on how I got here and who got me here,” said Kineavy, who centers his speech around the formation of his team that surrounds him on a daily basis. “I hope that the audience will be able to think about the people in their lives and see how powerful a team can be.”
Sophomore Daniel Cluskey will also be representing the undergraduate students on stage on Friday. His talk, entitled “I am not a Freestyle Rap Genius” which is about how people should not self-handicap. He has been interested in self-handicapping since he wrote a paper on the topic in highschool. Like all of the speakers, Cluskey hopes to open the eyes of the audience. “I hope that after my speech the audience will understand that doing your best is more important than succeeding at everything you try” said Cluskey. “I also want them to recognize times when they put obstacles in the way of their own success instead of trying their best.”
Cluskey and Kineavy’s speeches are just two of the nine talks that will be taking place Friday in Driscoll Hall. The talks will be accessible online for those who cannot make it to the event at http://tedx.villanovau.net/tedx-villanovau-live.
“We hope the event will be entertaining, engaging and inspiring,” Pistone said. More information about this week’s event can be found at http://tedx.villanovau.net/.