I’m giving a TED Talk!

While I got the official invitation in December and have known about this for several weeks, it’s still surreal, like maybe I’ve been imagining the whole thing.

But today, TED announced the speaker lineup for its 2012 Conference in Long Beach, and there it was…in black and white (and polka-dots!)

The full TED 2012 speaker lineup is here, and truly…every time I look at the list, I’m absolutely blown away.

Weeks ago,  I’d clicked on a Twitter link saying that TED put out a call for proposals for its 2012 session called The Classroom.  I thought, “Wow, that would be pretty amazing,” and filled out a simple online form. Then I went to bed and promptly forgot about it. When I got the email that said “Get ready to give the talk of your life,” I was sure it was a mistake.

Wait…they want me to speak at… not that TED. It can’t be that TED, right? This must be some…different TED.  Or maybe a smaller, not-quite-as-amazingly-cool sister conference. FRED, perhaps?

But then more emails came, and a request for a bio and speaker photo, and then,  a list of speaking tips called “The TED Commandments,” engraved on a slab of marble that arrived at my door via FedEx.  Seriously – you can’t make this stuff up.

It was that TED, all right.

Once I understood that the invitation was real, I went through a short terror-and-stomach-ache phase, thinking about giving a talk to these incredible 1500 people.  But then my husband looked at me and said, “You’re going to be fine. And this is the coolest thing ever, so you really need to just let go and enjoy it.”

That seemed like good advice, because truly… what an incredible gift. The opportunity to speak to people who care so passionately about making a difference in the world, making it better and more beautiful.

The opportunity to sit in the audience for the full conference, to hear speakers that include:

An urban naturalist who photographs birds’ nests.

The curator of the Met’s Costume Institute.

The most accomplished organist in the world.

A two-term U.S. Poet Laureate.

A peace activist who helped end Liberia’s civil war.

The co-founder of LinkedIn.

Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Philippe Petit, the man who walked between the towers.

A psychopath expert.

The writer of Toy Story movies and Wall-E.

…and on and on…

I decided I’m not willing to lose even a second of this experience because of nerves. So I’m writing and revising and practicing now, and getting ready for my six-minute talk on March 2nd. My TED Talk is about the power of what-if, world building in dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, and how we might encourage young people to use those same world building strategies to problem solve for our real life future.

In the weeks after the conference, the talks will be shared online, just like all the other TED Talks, and I’ll be sure to share a link when it’s live.  In the mean time, I’m going to check that speaker lineup once more…just to make sure it’s still real.

37 Replies on “I’m giving a TED Talk!

    1. Thanks, Megan! After the conference, it will be part of a collection of TED talks earmarked especially for use in the classroom, which delights me to no end.

    1. Surreal is the right word – for the first couple days, until my first scheduled phone call with them, I kept insisting to my husband that it probably wasn’t, like, a real TED talk… But it is – and I’m honored-thrilled-slightly-scared-but-mostly-excited now.

    1. You are so nice. And I am so scared.

      Actually, I am doing pretty well with this now – it’s so over-the-top surreal that it’s been easy to just enjoy the ride and appreciate the learning experience so far.

  1. So proud of you, Kate. When you set your heart and mind to make substantive, positive change in the world, you never know where it can lead. I’m so glad it’s led you to giving a TED talk. You will be fabulous!

  2. I am so excited for you! You are going to be great. I hope you are able to really soak up the experience.

  3. Congrats! A few days ago you had tweeted that you were sitting on some amazing news. Now that I know, I’m very impressed that you can keep a secret so well. This is huge news! I’m looking forward to hearing your talk in March, and then hearing it again and again….

  4. Those TED organizers have great taste! You are going to be fantastic. I saw you present at the Brattleboro Literary Festival and you come off (whether it’s true or not) as the most natural public speaker ever. And your choice of topics is so rich — I can’t wait to watch it!

    1. Thank you SO much, Ann! I’ll be honest, my first feeling after the shock wore off was complete terror because I’ve seen so many TED talks and know how amazing they are. But I’m getting over that and really looking forward to a great experience now. I appreciate the moral support!

    1. I’m told that all the 2012 conference talks will be posted online “in the weeks following the event.” Not sure when that will be, exactly, but I’ll be sure to share on my blog when it’s live. Thanks!

  5. Omg, I need to watch this. This is exactly what I need. Can you please let me know as soon as it is up?