Ideas from Exeter reach 69 countries at TEDxExeter this month


The fifth TEDxExeter conference was by far the biggest yet. The local audience doubled in size compared with last year and the day reached audiences online as far away as Mongolia, Colombia, Lithuania and Korea as well as the United States, India, Germany, and Saudi Arabia

The event was streamed live from Exeter Northcott Theatre to more than 30 public and private viewing party venues in Exeter and the surrounding area with more groups gathering to watch in London, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Mumbai. In total the livestream was viewed more than 3,000 times during the day. All the talks were filmed and high quality videos of all the talks will be available to view, free of charge, on TEDxExeter’s website by the end of May, joining films for the last four conferences which have already been viewed over six million times.

“The conference was the best yet, I cried and laughed in equal measure and overheard a wide range of fantastic conversations between the speakers, including some great inter-generational ones, which was a real highlight of the event,” said Emma Fielding, assistant principal at Exeter College.

“Had the most wonderful time at the brilliantly organised #TEDxExeter event at the Northcott theatre yesterday… Absolutely mind blowingly fabulous! Thank you @TEDxExeter. Speakers had us moved to tears & inspired to think & act. Wonderful!” said Exeter Natural Health Centre on Twitter.

From the USA, Gene said “What a fabulous TEDx you and your team have put on. I am so impressed and grateful to have been able to see the livestream. I trust you’ll give yourselves time to soak it all in, the incredible gift you’ve given us all. Congratulations!!!”

Words like “buzzing”, “inspirational”, “amazing” and “extraordinary” were being used liberally as audiences came together in the breaks. There was also plenty of emotion in the air as speakers told their stories, and shared how they have taken their experiences and used them to help others. Photographer Giles Duley received a standing ovation for his talk about what drove him to photograph refugees, and the remarkable compassion that makes his photographs so vivid.

Filmmaker Deeyah Khan also moved many as she called for Muslims in Europe to put the happiness of their children before so-called ‘honour’. “We can’t afford to give up on each other” she said, pointing out that terrorists want us to become like them, intolerant, hateful. “The Kryptonite for extremists is a society that loves and includes our kids.”

“Amazing @gilesduley talk at @TEDxExeter earlier, one of the most inspirational TED talks I’ve heard – stopped me in my tracks…” said Councillor John Harvey

“Finally broken by Deeyah Khan’s talk. Myself and a colleague sobbing. So powerful. Everyone should see this talk.” Boothebookworm

Laughter and amazement were also on the agenda. Anyone who hated maths at school will be surprised to hear that not only was Alan Smith’s talk on statistics popular, it was also funny. So was Totnes-based poet Matt Harvey who had the audience howling with laughter at his updated prune stone poem, starting: “Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor…”. Zia Nath left people mesmerised by her whirling Sufi dance.

Other talks had practical advice that people could use immediately. One business leader in the audience has already briefed his team on take-homes from two of the talks. Cormac Russell urged the audience to start with what’s strong, not what’s wrong, when trying to help people and build resilient communities. Exeter College student Abbie McGregor suggested replacing the ubiquitous SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) targets we all meet at work – and now are used in schools too – with a new acronym DREAM: dedicated, revolutionary, energising, ambitious and meaningful.

“At TEDxExeter, we believe passionately that ideas have the power to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world,” said TEDxExeter licensee and curator, Claire Kennedy. “We are delighted that this year our speakers reached our biggest ever audience with their ideas, and look forward to hearing how our audience on the day and online turns inspiration into action.”