Look out, world, here comes GCU’s 1st TEDx event
By Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau
Because he’s the program director for information technology and cybersecurity and a teacher at Grand Canyon University, Dr. Romeo Farinacci knows he can talk students’ ears off.
His presentation on Thursday afternoon during GCU’s presentation of TEDx will be similar to his classroom teachings — except it will be for a potential worldwide audience.
Farinacci is among 18 finalists — including GCU President Brian Mueller and one student, sophomore Stephen Parisi — and five additional video presenters who earned time slots for Thursday’s TEDx at GCU Arena.
TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a nonprofit that spreads concepts using short, powerful talks on a wide swath of topics, including science, business, sociology and global issues. In 2009, TED launched TEDx with the goal of bringing the TED experience to local communities, cities and universities.
Speaking for approximately 10-15 minutes isn’t a problem. What to say and not say is the bigger challenge.
“In this case it’s not just interacting but telling a story and sort of hanging up the phone,” Farinacci said. “It’s really a global audience and the impact in trying to do and change people’s perspective. We are all passionate about this through our own areas or subject matter. All of us on stage can give you more than you’d know what to do with.”
Finalists for GCU’s “Being a part of something great” theme for TEDx were based on input from both TEDx audition audience surveys in late January.
“It’s a great opportunity to hear what others think, what they’ve experienced and use it as a positive way to try to change the world,” Arizona Humane Society CEO Dr. Steven Hansen said. “I feel lucky to have been invited.”
Organizers are aiming for 4,000 attendees and have lined up 100 student volunteers, which would make it the largest TEDx event in Arizona history.
“We looked for ideas more than specific people,” co-creator and GCU junior Jedidiah Woods said. “Talks revolve around a story or emotions, about something a lot of people should know about. It’s not just a lecture, but an idea or concepts that are of a new or different perspective.”
For Woods, co-creator Austin Mosher and a dozen students and faculty, choosing the right speakers and subject matter was only a slice of the pie. It took weeks to get proper approvals from TED headquarters in New York City, and then support came in the form of a 130-page document that explicitly outlined every “do” and “don’t” required from each TEDx event:
For example, at least two cameras must be used for filming at the Arena, and speakers are not allowed to market or promote any entity, product or cause (including their own business, organization or GCU). There also are guidelines about logos and stage design, even specific ways to receive feedback from the event.
The list goes on and on. Marketing, advertising, event management, operations and staff management were involved.
In other words, TED made sure its TEDx offspring left no stone unturned.
The same can be said for its speakers. Since the audition process in late January, those who will speak have received guidance and feedback about their delivery, presentation, time allotment and much more in order to fit within TED guidelines.
“It’s about passing on information and inspiration to everyone,” Ron Blake said following his audition in late January, in which he earned a spot in Thursday’s event. “It’s fun to share. Most of us have never done anything like this before, but since communication is the foundation of who we are as humans, it’s really cool to be able to share that.”
Refining has been more arduous for some speakers than others, but nearly every speaker has the same objective: Share their story and shine the spotlight.
“I don’t think a lot of people truly understand what that meant,” Farinacci said. “What’s the impact? Amazing speeches that can impact the world. The weight it’s going to have is … oh … my imagination takes over.”
Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or [email protected]