Adonis Diaries

TEDxBeirut “From limitation to inspiration”: At Last, Round One Audition?

Posted on: September 27, 2011

TEDxBeirut: At Last, Auditions. Round One?
TEDxBeirut conference was a success story last Saturday Sept.24.  I reported previously that I submitted a one-minute video, as required, in order to be eligible for the screening process for the candidates to be selected for a first audition.  I was turned down with no feedback, but I was invited for free to attend the event.  My topic was on How rare are dangerous events? How dangerous are “rare” species? Even when extinct?
So how the audition process might have taken place? This is how Jessica Dheere reported on Sept. 14:

“Ah you’re here! Right on time. A little early actually. That’s good. Please, do come in,” the one with the vivid red-brown braid said with a hearty smile.
As she gestured gaily, stretching her arm into the vastness of the site, the whiteness of her teeth sparkled starkly against the contrast provided by the darkness of her shirt.
“Take a seat. Yes, any seat you like. Make yourself comfortable. Are you ready? You can go whenever you’re ready.”
The one with the bouncy curls, having finished marking red several X on the ground, proceeded to his touch-screen contraption. He made all sorts of seemingly whimsical gestures, unobstructed by his injured hand, a la Tom Cruise in Minority Report, and produced a glaring stopwatch, set at 6 minutes sharp.

They got up, one after the other, sensing their initial intimidation getting numbed by the homeliness of their surroundings. It was when the ideas started burgeoning, flowing, and ultimately filling up the entire place, inducing cheers, tears, laughter and much more.
This was not a classical audition with an air of formality and detachment between the judging panel and the presenter. This was the first round of the TEDxBeirut Auditions –an invite for each speaker to share his/her idea on just the right platform for that ideal: Ideas Worth Spreading.

The Speakers’ Team truly upped their game this time. Donning their TEDxBeirut Titans regalia composed of black t-shirts, earnest looks, and hearty smiles, they welcomed the speakers in a way that helped relieve their concerns, yet conveyed an appropriate air of seriousness –if selected, the speakers will be delivering the most important talk of their lives!
Sandra, the Lara Croft Titan, and Marc, the Restless Roman Titan, were there since the early hours of the day, taking care of every vital aspect pertaining to the success of the auditions.

Ten speakers presented their ideas, achievements, aspirations, theories, and passions. A quick recap that treads the fine line between revealing too much and getting you intrigued? Consider the following: Ten Commandments for winning an Emmy from an Emmy winner, a record-breaking NGO campaign with a moving background story, music meeting electronics to give a young entrepreneur his 15 minutes of fame and a lifelong dream to pursue, “addressing” uncharted territories, in addition to invisible balloon propping and popping –this is only a handful of the topics presented on Day One of the auditions.

The team and the speakers alike benefited from valuable input presented by members of Toastmasters Lebanon, the NGO helping people hone their public speaking skills.

The speakers’ relaxation largely stemmed from the homeliness of the location: nSITE Raouche –a great Thank You goes out to Hala Makarem for her invaluable involvement with TEDxBeirut.

“How many speakers from Round One were picked? Who were they? How was Round Two like? And would you please tell us what’s the deal with the new nicknames?!” The readers questioned loudly, but the Titan with the keyboard typed only this: “Worry not, devoted readers. Tomorrow, a great deal will be uncovered!”

I still would like to know “what a one-minute” video may give hints as to the adequacy of a speaker?  What are the criteria that selection team agreed upon, as they required this video.  What they were intent on sorting out at first glance? Shouldn’t a face to face one-minute talk be of better quality?

Apparently, this event has been in the making for 9 months.  The first six months were kind of trial and error exploratory expedition. As WilliamChoukeir said on the talk of Helweh wa Morra (Sweet and bitter) on LBC cable:  “Things gelled in the last three weeks before the event”

The organizers are young people and this huge event is their first.  And the event was a huge success anyway you analyze it: Just imagine the work, patience, time consumed, energy invested to getting 20 speakers auditioned and trained, and catering to the minute details to satisfying over 800 people, and keeping them energized during three sessions of presentations.

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September 2011

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