TEDxExeter story: Sarah Bird, 2013 attendee

The second of our short series of stories from speakers and attendees at previous TEDxExeter events. Sarah Bird enjoyed TEDxExeter 2013 so much, she volunteered for the organising team and is co-ordinating the volunteers for 2014.


Last year I was drafted in as a last minute addition to the TEDxExeter 2013 volunteer team, and I jumped at the chance to be part of the local expression of the global phenomenon that is TED and TEDx. The day itself is mind-blowing. And tiring, because of course it is tiring to have your brain repeatedly stretched like silly putty. You know all those studies on neuroplasticity and the capacity for brains to change? They worked that out by scanning the brains of TED delegates before and after a conference.*

For me, the success of TED lies in its simplicity and focus on quality over quantity. We all know that it’s difficult to concentrate for longer than about 20 minutes on one thing, that a picture can paint a thousand words, and that positive, quality communication of a great idea can change people. TED simply brings these ingredients together.

TED and TEDx events also bring together like-minded people and gives them a space where they can share their passion and ignite each other’s ideas like sparks off a block.  And when I say like-minded, I don’t mean alike in terms of culture and background, because there are TED aficionados from all over the world and all walks of life. But they are alike in that they are usually open-minded, eager to learn, positive, and ready to change the world. You will meet critical thinkers at TED and TEDx conferences, but you are unlikely to meet many jaded cynics. Cynicism uses up too much energy when you’re a busy person with stuff to do, like sail the world in a boat made from plastic bottles (Jo Royle), or campaign for Fairtrade phones (Bandi Mbubi), or trek to the north pole (Ann Daniels), or grow guerrilla vegetables (Pam Warhurst), or become a community pirate (Kester Brewin).

So if you’re reading this with your ticket in your hand for TEDxExeter 2014, you’re in for a treat and I look forward to meeting you there. If you missed out this year, join the community anyway by following TEDxExeter on Twitter, reading the live blog from storyteller Clare on the day, and marking the 2015 ticket launch in your diaries now (though you might be ahead of the team on that one).  

*Almost definitely probably true.