How we choose our speakers

SUMMARY: One of the most common questions asked of the TEDxTinHauWoman planning committee is “How do you select the speakers?”.  In this post, our Head of Curation walks through the nomination and selection process. For Friday November 30, 2018, you can see the full list of speakers here 

After 7 years leading TEDx events, this has to be one of the most common questions I am asked – how we select our speakers! Answer: It’s a mix of process and intuition.

As the Head of Curation I am looking for ideas from our speakers that can showcase women in Hong Kong who are leading scientific breakthroughs and social movements, who can help the audience think about their lives and communities in new ways, and who will challenge and educate us through their talk. TEDx gives us an opportunity to showcase our ideas to the world and I feel a huge responsibility to make sure that our program reflects contemporary Hong Kong, modern women and the lives we lead. When designing the program it’s really important that we have diversity in the lineup, both in terms of ideas as well as representation of Hong Kong communities. The credibility of the speaker, the authenticity of their idea and message, and how I think their idea is relevant and resonates today for women is also part of the consideration.

For this year’s TEDxTinHauWomen we sourced speakers in three ways…

  1. Nominations through our committee: we have a large and well-connected committee of women with networks throughout HK – business, society, charity, education, parent groups, etc – we ask them to list who they think should apply.
  2. We have an open application process: we advertise to encourage people to apply to be a speaker. The first year of TEDxTinHauWomen we received around 18 applications, this 2nd year we received almost 60!
  3. We actively seek people who fit a certain profile: sometimes when planning our program we can’t find the right person fit to fill a space in the program, so we deliberately go out to find someone that meets some specific criteria.

After we have a long list of applications, we review and rate the applications based on three elements…

  1. Link to current theme: each year we have a theme that we are working towards and we seek talks relate to it (Reminder: this year’s theme is Showing Up Now!)
  2. Relevance of the topic to HK and Global Women: we want to make sure our talks are locally grounded, with international relevance
  3. Wow factor: this is quite subjective and gives the Curation Committee a chance to debate the ‘wow’ factors of each idea. Credibility of the speaker also plays a role in here. Questions the committee asks themselves – is it a trending topic (vs overdone and passe), is it groundbreaking, does it bring a new perspective?  

Throughout this assessment process we also keep an eye and close liaison with TEDGlobal to make sure that any talks people are proposing to keep to the TED Content Guidelines (you’d be surprised how many applications are automatically knocked out because they don’t meet these basic guidelines). This includes:  

  • No selling from the stage
  • No political agendas
  • No religious proselytizing (including new age beliefs)
  • Only good science

We then make a shortlist and have a face to face interview with the potential speakers. We debated a lot in our committee this year in the lead up to getting to a final line up. That debate and diversity of opinion really helped us to get to a speaker list that we felt comfortable with.

After all of that, we then ask the speakers if they are willing to do it! We have had a few people who unfortunately had to say ‘no’ due to time commitments or other conflicts, so even if we have the perfect line up on paper, at the end of the day the practicalities of availability also come into it. Speaking at TEDx is more than a simple talk – it is a big time commitment from the speakers. As it includes participating in coaching to make sure the talk is a success and joining in community activities as part of the event development.

The TEDxTinHauWomen committee are confident we have a lineup up of speakers that will be compelling, captivating, inspiring and challenging for the audience. See the full list of speakers here

#TEDxTinHauWomen #ShowingUpNow

To hear 2017 talks, click here

To buy tickets for 30 November, click here

Written by: Stefanie Myers, Co-Chair, Head of Curation and Community, on behalf of TEDxTinHauWomen


Author: TEDxTinHauWomen

TEDxTinHauWomen is the only annual TEDx event dedicated to women in Hong Kong.

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