Speakers wanted for 2021 TEDxMemphis

Innovators and experts across the Mid-South will soon have the opportunity to present their bold new ideas and fresh points of view to local, national, and international audiences.

Speaker applications are open for the live, one-day TEDxMemphis event, which will be held at the Levitt Shell on October 30.

TED’s slogan is “ideas worth spreading.” 

The New York City-based nonprofit has been facilitating short talks on subjects related to technology, education, and design since their first conference in 1984. The TEDx initiative includes live speakers or recorded presentations that are independently organized by partners around the world.

New Memphis is hosting the upcoming Memphis event. 

“The Memphis community is rich with ideas and talent that we want to showcase. TEDx gives this talent a magnified voice and—through shared TED Talk videos—an international stage. We’re excited to export some unique Memphis talks while also reaching an engaged local audience,” said New Memphis President and CEO, Anna Mullins Ellis, in a press release.

New Memphis has chosen “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” as the event theme because, they say, now is a welcome time for a reset in terms of new ideas and fresh points of view. Ctrl+Alt+Delete is a key combination that resets a Windows computer. 

Nora Murray is senior manager of community impact at New Memphis. She told High Ground that Ctrl+Alt+Delete “...embodies that feeling that we're hoping to bring into 2021 and beyond.”

“It's time to reset our perspectives,” she said. 

Anyone can apply to be a speaker and pitch a topic on that theme. The application deadline is on June 15 at 11:59 p.m. 

Murray said New Memphis hopes to see applications from passionate Memphians who have innovative ideas that haven’t been seen before. She also emphasized that they’re looking for all kinds of people who are subject matter experts, not just those with hefty resumes or complicated business plans.

“Credentials are not the only thing that we look at. We really look for creative ideas that have a spark. Sometimes people think you have to do some really intense topic, but often the best TED talks come from really simple, innovative, fresh, and cool ideas,” said Murray.

New Memphis’ TEDxMemphis event planning committee will review each application and choose between 15 and 20 speakers who reflect the area's demographics and offer a variety of presentation styles and tones—serious, humorous, joyful, and poignant.

The lineup of speakers will be announced on September 9. Presentations will be arranged in sessions of roughly 5 speakers each.

All-day event passes for TEDxMemphis at the Levitt Shell are on sale now for an early bird price of $540 each, which includes admission for one “lawn circle” that accommodates up to six guests for all speaker sessions. Beginning September 2, single-session passes will be available for $270, admitting up to 6 guests to one speaker session. Food and drinks will be available for purchase throughout the day.

New Memphis is a nonprofit initiative that aims to provide area leaders with business development and community engagement opportunities. They coordinate TEDxMemphis events as the organization’s local partner.

“The whole TED concept is about ideas that are worth spreading, and we know that this opportunity gives folks a chance to share their ideas, innovations, and initiatives on a world stage,” Murray said. “So, while the TEDxMemphis event is local, because it's associated with the TED brand, it has a very wide reach.”
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Read more articles by Sarah Rushakoff.

Sarah Rushakoff was raised in Memphis and is a graduate of White Station High School and the University of Memphis. She is a longtime member of Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe and works professionally as a graphic designer, writer, and photographer.