The international nonprofit known as TED has penetrated almost every region and most industries in the years since it began inspiring local people to share ideas about technology, entertainment and design in their towns. “TED Talks” can now be heard on national radio shows and easily watched online. They’ve helped to launch the ideas, talents and careers of tens of thousands of people around the world. 
Local innovators, performers, artists and speakers took the TEDx stage in Raleigh in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and now, after a three-year hiatus, they’ll get the chance again.

TEDxRaleigh is back and poised to be bigger than ever. When the March 19 event was announced last fall, over 100 people responded to volunteer within two weeks. This showed to organizers an unmet need in the Triangle for real, inspiring and thought-provoking idea-sharing. 

TEDxRaleigh is the local version of the international TED conference held in California each year. The first local TEDx drew more than 150 people in 2011, and this year, organizers are expecting up to 400 for a themed event titled WONDERLUST. They define the term as “a desire to be in a constant state of wonder,” but challenge presenters to provide their own definitions through their various talks and performances.
The team is being led by chief curator and motivational speaker Kevin Snyder and assistant curators Matt Murray, a Citrix sales rep passionate about performing and visual arts, and Sarita King, a writer and life coach for women. Murray helped curate the three previous TEDxRaleigh events. In coming days, he and others will be sifting through dozens of speaker applications and nominations—the deadline to nominate and apply is today.
Interviews and auditions of the top candidates begin February 1, after which up to 10 presenters will be chosen to give talks during the event at Raleigh’s Nash Hall, each no longer than 18 minutes. The main criteria for each speaker is to have an idea that represents innovation, thought-leadership and the potential to cause a “ripple effect.”  According to Snyder, that means bright minds with ideas that showcase an ability to think in ways that not only affect the local community but also, the world. The team hopes to find a variety of presenters, from entrepreneurs to artists to students to professors to performers. Through the diversity of ideas, backgrounds and experiences presented, the team hopes to get people in the audience believing in themselves and moving forward with their dreams and plans. 

For those who observe TEDx events from the outside, the vast logistical undertaking of the event can go unnoticed. It is for this reason that more talks have not been organized in Raleigh. Snyder compares the organizational process behind a TEDx event to starting a business. It requires various approvals, documentation and licensing by TED, as well as a solid team and financing. And time.

All TEDx events must follow strict guidelines provided by the “TED organizer guide”. A few thousand man hours have already been invested by the volunteer team, Snyder says.

The curation trio has appointed seven different team leads, each tasked with running specific committees. These include speaker development, led by dbMotion—Allscripts engineer Stephen Hampton; hospitality, led by Caterpillar’s Joanna Nechvatal; sponsorship and strategic alliances, led by Johnson & Johnson Territory Manager Damon Blaco; communications, led by Big Think Innovation marketer Chuck Hester; Wow!, led by Big Think Innovation founder Craig Matthews; graphic design, led by freelance marketer Tia Bohinc; and stage production, led by Jasmine Hall, a full-time animal care assistant in Durham. 

Key to getting speakers and early buzz about the event are activities by a marketing team. They are posting daily updates about the event to social media, building up the large email list for weekly newsletters and creating strategic outreach campaigns to form potential business alliances. They plan to continually update the TEDx website with valuable content for attendees. Ticket sales should begin soon, and there’s already consideration for an overflow location and a live stream for those who can’t attend in person.

After TEDx events conclude, videos of each talk are sent to the TED organization, where they are uploaded onto the TED YouTube channel.  Those organizing the Raleigh event are hoping for presenters to have reach as big as a million views on YouTube. This would help solidify that the ideas here in the Triangle are indeed worth spreading. 

At the end of the day, the organizers expect the audience to leave feeling empowered to make a difference, no matter how big or small.