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.

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  1. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    That is so amazing! Congratulations! I can’t wait to see it.

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

      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.

  2. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Seriously, I can’t get over how cool this is. If I’m this excited, I can’t imagine how surreal this experience is for you.

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      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.

  3. Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    GADS – this is so awesome! And GREAT topic – I am so looking forward to watching! CONGRATULATIONS!!! 🙂 e

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I’m more than a little excited. 🙂

  4. Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Hooray and Congrats! Love Ted. You’re going to be magnificent!!!!

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Lisa! My initial angst has given way to pure excitement – I can’t wait.

  5. Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    That is so exciting! You must be thrilled.

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      I’m super-excited – thanks, Beth!

  6. Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I am totally, totally thrilled for you, Kate. This is well earned and I know you’ll do a terrific job! Congratulations!

  7. Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Kate, you will be magnificent. I am so thrilled for the people in the audience who get to hear YOU speak. You are an inspiration.


    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      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.

  8. Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    So, so, SOOOO exciting. Congratulations. Enjoy every minute!

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:52 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Katy! I’m planning on it.

  9. Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    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!

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Donna – I’m obviously beyond excited.

  10. Posted January 12, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    This is so exciting!! I’ll be in Africa when you give your speech…but promise to watch it shortly after when it’s posted. Good luck! You will be great!

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Miranda! And I hope we get to hear all about Africa when you return!

  11. Laura
    Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:19 am | Permalink

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

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      Soaking up the experience is the plan, for sure – thanks, Laura!

  12. Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    I had to come over and read the post — this is just THE BEST! I’m EEEEEEEing all over the place!

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:43 am | Permalink

      Thanks! (I am still kind of in shock, and it’s been a few weeks!)

  13. Posted January 12, 2012 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    Wow! about a million times. Good luck and have fun!

  14. Posted January 12, 2012 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    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….

    • Posted January 13, 2012 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Marilyn! (And yes…it was tough not to spill the beans before TED made their announcement!)

  15. Posted January 12, 2012 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    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!

    • Posted January 13, 2012 at 1:00 am | Permalink

      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!

  16. Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant, Kate! And I admire your attitude in not wasting time on nerves – do your best and ENJOY it, yes!

  17. Posted January 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    How absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait to click the link! Have a blast, Kate!

    • Posted January 13, 2012 at 12:59 am | Permalink

      Thanks – I’m super-excited!

  18. Posted January 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    This is the very coolest. I can’t WAIT to listen to it? (Watch it? Will the video be online too? I hope so!)

    • Posted January 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      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!

  19. Posted January 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations! I will embed the video on Skype an Athor as soon as it is available!

  20. Tiomela
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 3:21 am | Permalink

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

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