Speaker rehearsals

2.45 It’s the afternoon before the big day, and I’m wandering around Exeter University’s main campus between the Great Hall and the Northcott Theatre. The Northcott is the venue for the talks. The Great Hall is the break-out space for refreshments and networking, the sponsors’ stands, a book shop (hurrah!) and the TEDxExeter Creating Connections stand.

3.00 I’m sitting in on the speaker rehearsals in the Northcott, wondering how best to blog tomorrow. My laptop is from the steam age and only has wifi, but there’s no wifi in the Theatre, so I won’t be able to post during the sessions. I could post using 3G smartphone, but my typing will be illiterate. And I don’t want to steal the thunder of the tweeters, so I’ll aim to complement their soundbites with my beautifully crafted text 😉 Thankfully at least there are power points, so I don’t have to worry about batteries.

3.10 I’ve got to know well the first minute of Polly Higgin’s talk, as the audio-visual people are trying to sort out her microphone. She’s just been told to stop breathing so much.

3.15 There is a roving photographer, recording all the speakers as they get used to the space and practise their talk. Polly is continuing, but I’m trying not to listen to the content, as I want to listen in context tomorrow.

3.30 Everyone has disappeared, and Polly finishes with only me as an audience. Where’s the action gone? Ah, here comes Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

3.35 The stage dressing is very simple but effective, with the logo under the screen. One of Kagemusha Taiko’s great drums stands off to the left waiting for their mallets to bring it to life. The speakers have a podium and two screens at their feet showing their slides and a countdown clock, and there is a classic TEDx red circle. I wonder how many will stay within the circle, and how many will break out. A man has just come in with bits of podium. I think they’re rebuilding it as we go.

3.40 Hugh and Tobit are discussing Hugh’s slideshow – action shots of a successful mackerel fishing trip.

3.45 Now here’s Peter Cox, but he’s going to have to wait a wee while before he gets on.

4.00 Scilla Elworthy has arrived, but Peter hasn’t even got on yet. We’re running behind now.

4.05 Satish Kumar too. The backlog is building. Great photo opportunity of Satish, Scilla, Jeanie and Claire sitting in a row in the auditorium.

4.10 Peter Cox – blink and you miss him. But climate change scientists are so used to speaking with slides.

4.20 Mike Dickson has just asked whether anyone in the audience ever wanted to be Superman and rescue damsels in distress. Me, I’d prefer to be Superwoman and maybe rescue knights in distress – or maybe not depending how I feel on the day. Satish follows that up with a critique of the French revolution slogan. “Liberté egalité fraternité… but what about the sisterhood, the motherhood?” He says he’ll talk until the clock runs down, and then stop. Love him. And now Mike’s back with a slide of Brendan Routh as Superman, together with the soundtrack. Great juxtapositions.

4.35 A bit of a hiatus. Rob Hopkins managed to sneak in without me noticing, and Chris Anderson has arrived too. Scilla is next up, and has just complimented Jeanie on everything she and Claire have created here, and the positive atmosphere that is already in the theatre. Seconded! Round of applause for the introduction to her talk. Chris next.

4.45 As curator of TED, Chris knows everything about what makes a good TED talk, and he’s got some very slick slides. At the moment some of the screen is out of focus, but the audio-visual team assures him that it will be sorted out at the end of the session.

5.00 Rob’s done now, so only Tony Juniper to go, and he’s not arrived quite yet. Time for me to head off and test out the Wifi in the Great Hall. Hasta la vista.

1 thought on “Speaker rehearsals

  1. As you may have guessed, I managed to find a wifi spot in the theatre next to a socket, so could happily post as we went along.

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