For two years, I’ve had the honor to serve on the leadership team for TEDxGreensboro as presentation coach for our selected speakers. It’s one of the most rewarding roles I’ve ever experienced. Working beside these presenters is meaningful and moving. Shortly after the full-day event concluded, I reflected upon what made their diverse messages so powerful. It became clear that two key traits were critical for moving an audience from distracted to engaged.
All of our presenters are experts in their fields. Left alone, expertise can be boring and unappealing. By itself it rarely causes an audience to laugh, cry, gasp, or cheer; another ingredient is needed to make expertise engaging. Passion. Passion is hard to define, yet we know it when we see it. On Thursday May 8, 2014, at The Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, over three hundred attendees experienced the collision of expertise and passion. See for yourself. Click on their names to watch these inspiring presentations:
- Brenda Elliot: Character Strong Youth Lead to Strong Communities. Brenda is director of student services for the Guilford County (NC) Schools, which has achieved distinction as one of three National Districts of Character.
- Patricia Gray: The Music of Nature; the Nature of Music. Patricia is a research scientist and a concert pianist. She is on the cutting edge of research about the role of musical behaviors in the lives of humans and animals.
- Dr. Eric Kraus: Hearing, Smartphones, and Empowerment. Eric is a physician, educator/trainer, and surgeon in Otology & Neurology. He is an inventor and creator of a new iOS App—the Sleeping Baby Hearing Test.
- Jack Hoskins: Lessons Learned from a Teenage Entrepreneur. Jack is a 16-year old high school student and tech entrepreneur. Since the age of thirteen, Jack has created over forty-five apps and started three Internet businesses.
- Steadman Harrison: Future Leadership, Regardless. Steadman is the general director, Africa, for the Center for Creative Leadership. He is a global champion for the democratization of leader development.
- Sarah Ray: Meaningful Work Isn’t Found; It’s Formed. Sarah is the Director of the arcBARKS Dog Treat Company, a bakery operated by clients of The Arc who are developmentally disabled. She has guided the startup from baking a few dozen treats to producing 2,000 boxes monthly that are sold in major supermarket chains while giving purpose and meaning to the lives of her clients and “chefs.”
- Marianne LeGreco: Building Vibrant Food Systems. Marianne is an assistant professor of communications at UNC Greensboro and focuses on food issues. She is an advocate for increasing access to healthy foods in underserved areas.
- David Schmidt: A Gift at the End of Life. David was CEO of a major Medicare HMO and has experience in helping individuals and their loved ones through the final stages of life.
- Dennis Stearns: Super Trends: The Changing Future of Jobs. Dennis is founder of Stearns Financial Services Group, Inc. and focuses on future trends in the economy. He is recognized as a leading futurist in the financial industry.
There you have it. Expertise and passion—a powerful and engaging duo. At the end of this long and inspiring day these messengers caused me to want to take action, to change, and make a difference. Ultimately, isn’t that why you engage your audience in the first place?
Leave your comments: What message must you spread?