TED’s annual conference has been described by The Times as an ‘intellectual Mardi Gras’, ‘one of the most exclusive clubs in the world’ and ‘Davos for optimists’. Delegates pay $10,000 to hear presentations from the world’s pre-eminent scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, political leaders and CEOs – each with one big idea to share. Tickets sell out many months in advance and many of the talks go viral, receiving tens of millions of views. Just look online and you’ll see talks such as ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ by educationalist Ken Robinson (62 million views) and ‘Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are’ by social psychologist Amy Cuddy (54 million views). TED has hosted speakers from Elon Musk on building a sustainable civilisation on Mars and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on feminism to Bill Gates on climate change and Monica Lewinsky on bullying.
So how did a little-known conference that started in Monterey, California, become a media colossus and viral video phenomenon? According to Chris Anderson, the Head of TED, it’s all about exploring revolutionary new ideas and a commitment to seeking out the most interesting people on the planet and inviting them to communicate their passion. For Anderson, a carefully prepared speech can be more powerful than anything in written form – it can stir excitement in a room full of people, spread knowledge and inspiration, and transform the views of millions of people around the world. And not only that, where else are you going to learn about a radical scientific theory explaining the origins of the moon or hear the incredible story of a dissident who escaped North Korea?
On Monday 4th May, Anderson will be coming to the Intelligence Squared stage to explore how these ideas, and the power of the spoken word, can change the world.
Speakers are subject to change.