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Since 1984, TED has hosted some of the world’s most inspiring thinkers, with the aim of “leveraging the power of ideas to change the world“.

Initially a one off event, the TED lecture series has been held annually since 1990, firstly in Monterey, then Long Beach and Palm Springs, and now internationally. Initially the focus was largely on technology and design, and more recently they deal with a wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture.

No matter who famous you are, you are allotted only 18 minutes to present your ideas. What a great concept – clearly designed to perfectly match the attention span of a GP! 

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Past presenters include Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, educator Salman Khan, Presentation Zen Guru Garr Reynolds, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners.

TED is now hosted by Chris Anderson and his not-for-profit Sapling Foundation. For an annual fee of $6000, you can join the TED network and attend any TED conference.

However, if an idea is worth spreading, TED believes it should be set free. All TED talks are available free – either via live streaming of through a complete online archive – which now hosts more than 700 talks!

“We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

In addition to allowing access through your normal web browser, iPhone and iPad apps make it easy to track TED talks.

TEDxSydney 2011 takes place this Saturday at CarriageWorks, Sydney.

Tickets to the theatre itself were free, but all have been allocated. You can attend the live simulcast next door in the CarriageWorks, or watch it live on YouTube. You can also listen to a special Radio National ‘Big Ideas’ broadcast from 1pm – 7pm.

Speakers are listed on the TedxSydney web site.

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Here is a selection of interesting TED talks from over the years:

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On the weekend we attended a birthday party where there were some excellent speeches.

It is normal to be anxious before giving a talk or making a speech. Using this nervous energy is the key to being natural and engaging. At a 50th birthday party at the weekend we heard some excellent speeches.

It is a great pity that we miss out on the wisdom of many people because their anxiety prevents them from sharing it before a crowd.

The most important part of public speaking is being prepared. I’m in awe of people who can get up before a crowd and speak completely off the cuff. Some politicans I’ve seen are excellent at this (Tony Abbott is very good, and I suspect Julia Gillard is also). School teachers are also excellent at speaking without much notice. For us lesser mortals, the key to giving a good speech is preparation.

At our workshops, I’ve seen some professional speakers give wonderfully engaging, funny and informative talks – and they appear to be making it up as they go along. When we get them back at subsequent workshops, they give the same ‘impromptu’ talk – word for word, pause for pause, gesture for gesture. Preparation.

Garr Reynolds, our friend from Presentation Zen, has a post this week on ‘Dealing with Public Speaking Nerves‘. He includes five tips from Les Posen, a Melbourne based psychologist who has his own blog called ‘Presentation Magic‘. 

Les’s tip are:

1. Chunking and exposure.

Break your talk into small parts.

 

2. Rehearsal.

Visualise yourself wowing the crowd as you practice

 

3. Self-talk.

“I can do this”.

 

4. Arousal control via diaphragmatic breathing.

Slow, deep breaths.

 

5. Deliberate practice.

Practice the beginning, ending and other key parts of the talk.

You can read more about Les’s tips at Presentation Zen

I look forward to seeing and hearing your next ‘tour de force’.

PS. I suspect some of the nerves of the speakers at the birthday party we attended were quelled using a very traditional liquid remedy (or two). Moderation is the key to this particular cure.

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