Crowds gather to pitch TED talk ideas in New Eastside

By Taylor Hartz

Published February 6, 2018

When you’re in need of a pep talk, there are few things more inspiring than turning up the volume on a TED Talk.

Whether you’re looking for encouragement or simply want to get the wheels turning in your brain, the short, powerful talks from the TED nonprofit are devoted to spreading all kinds of ideas. But have you ever considered being the one up on stage delivering such a talk?

Judging by the attendance at a recent event at the AON building, many New Eastsiders have and are bursting with ideas they want to share with the world.  

On Jan. 31, the Mid America Club in the AON building hosted an event called “TED Talk: Idea Pitch” where more than 80 guests registered to pitch their ideas for their own talk, or just hear what others had to say.

Organized by Viewmasters Toastmasters, with TEDx Speakers on hand to offer suggestions and explain how TED Talks work, the event offered an opportunity for future speakers to take the first step toward public speaking.

“If you have an idea that’s burning to get out but you don’t know how to get it out there, we’re here to help you,” said Shanita Akintonde, who helped organize the event for Toastmasters Viewmasters.

Lauren Michael Harris talks about taking control of your life, his idea for a TED Talk, at a TEDx pitch event at the Mid America Club in the AON building at Jan. 31.

With no winners or competition, the goal of the event was to give speakers an opportunity to summarize their ideas and build confidence. Idea pitches were two minutes or less and participants received feedback from Tedx staff and others in attendance.

Glen Neilson, a financial coach in Vernon Hills, came to the event to share his idea “Take Action, Go After Your Dreams.”

This was the first time Neilson shared this idea in a public setting, though it’s something he’s wanted to do for years.

“When I was six years old I had the idea for bottled water,” said Neilson, “If I had taken action, I’d be a multi millionaire.”

Neilson’s goal is to make sure others feel brave enough to share their ideas, no matter how crazy they may seem, without the fear of failure.

“I want to tell people not to let anybody steal your dream, and to go after it,” said Neilson.

Another speaker, Lauren Michaels Harris, talked about overcoming addiction and taking “Total Control” of your life to find happiness.

Tackling smaller, but still fascinating topics, speakers like Linda Zabors pitched an idea for exploring all the individuals who are celebrated with honorary streets in Chicago – from the well known Chicagoans like Oprah Winfrey to Swami Vivekananda who was involved in the World’s Fair. 

Linda Zabors pitches her idea for a TED talk at an event at the Mid America Club on Jan. 31. Photo by Taylor Hartz

After ideas were pitched, guests participated in a Q&A session where they could ask questions about pitches, or make suggestions for how to expand ideas.


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