Speaker rehearsals

11am I’ve just arrived at the Northcott, to find Claire rehearsing her speaker intros with the signing interpreters. These are a wonderful addition this year, accompanying Jenny Sealey. I really enjoy watching signers – the physicality and the dance enhancing the words. I would love to learn BSL properly, but only have a few random signs. At least I could use ‘good morning’ today. ‘Otter’ and ‘puffin’ are unlikely to be useful. But more importantly, having the signers here means the talks will be even more accessible, not least to the group from the Exeter Deaf Academy.

11.20am James our photographer has set up shop in the room next to the auditorium, and is taking photos of the speakers and team as we come and go. Having my photo taken is not my favourite activity, but Helen his assistant is teaching us to bevel like a Hollywood A-lister.

11.40am Matthew Owen from Cool Earth is now rehearsing. He is starting with a quiz, and has some really funky zoomy in slide graphics.

12noon Another short break, and time for a quick intro on the red dot to all the volunteers. They’re all very lovely, and vital to making the day run smoothly.

12.20pm Jenny, Peter, Michelle and Beth have already rehearsed and gone. This year, we’re very fortunate to have two of Peter’s canvases framing the stage. They’re incredibly striking images.

1.00pm Things are really starting to happen now. Dick is on stage, Chettan and Carmel are chilling in the theatre cafe, and we’re all seeking the microphone guy.

1.35pm Dick will be excellent. The signers are now discussing how best to represent concepts such as ’emotional strength’. Carmel has now walked on to the red dot, whooping up the sparse audience dotted around the auditorium.

1.50pm Rachel has just popped in and out. Carmel has finished generating her magic, with ensuing discussions with Andy from the production team about the lighting and movement on the stage, and with the speaker team of Claire, Jeanie and Sara providing feedback on the talk.

2.00pm Chetan is now rehearsing his talk about identity and changing identity. I’m going to have a wander over to the Great Hall to see how the sponsor set-up is going. Back soon.

3.00pm Happy to report that the Great Hall looks good, full of white table cloths and rows upon rows of cups and saucers. Some of the sponsors and NGOs have already set up their stands – more coming later – and there are number of intriguing blackboards dotted around.

3.20pm Back in the theatre… Kieron is running through his magic show first, and then talk. He’ll be using five volunteers from the audience, but a few of us team members will have to do in the meantime. Never been in a magic show before!

4.10pm Just listened to Sara’s talk, which is very powerful. Beforehand, I had a fascinating conversation with the signers, about all the different things they need to consider and incorporate – who they are signing for, whether adults or school children; the speaker’s tone of voice, and how to convey variation, based on audio cues only because they are facing the audience; not to mention the fact that the language and subject matter is not necessarily familiar to them. My admiration for them has exponentially grown.

4.25pm And finally… I’m just staying to watch Celia before heading home to set up the framework for my live blog tomorrow. See you then.

If you are not attending TEDxExeter tomorrow, you can still follow the livestream on this website.