“We, the people of South Africa, are the heroes”, words of revolution by Director of Online Communications for the South African Government, Aslam Levy a speaker at TEDxPretoria.

Phrases like this and many others is how I remember my Thursday the 17th of November. It simply a dream come true to finally attend a live TEDx Conference.
TEDxPretoria in short:

TEDx Pretoria is a localized offshoot of the hugely popular Technology, Education and Design (TED) series of talks. It has become an international movement under the banner of “Ideas worth spreading”. The talks, freely available online, are widely recognised as one of the world’s most inspiring sources of fresh thinking on a wide range of subjects.

The theme for this year’s event was “Fast Forward”. There were a number of change-makers, entrepreneurs, future thinkers, poets and athletes. They all came out to show the importance and impact of radical ideas and the fast change in an age of upheaval. Names like Bella Cox, Kenneth Diole, Mandla Dube, Mpumelelo Mfula, Pieter Mathews, and Simphiwe Petros, simply managed to intrigue and enlighten us with many new ideas and constructs.tedxpretoria-14Having never been to a TEDx conference before, the only standard that I could compare it with is the TEDx talks that you see on YouTube. Now, I don’t know about you, but I watch a LOT of TED talks. At least a good few every week. And while some talks are better than others, you hardly ever hear of a speaker talking about themselves. Now this may just be a South African thing (and I say South African because I have attended various other expos in the country where the same is true), but South African speakers are seriously inclined to just talk about themselves.tedxpretoria-5While this may be great to create a point of reference, or to setup a “before and after” type methodology, I guarantee you that most people living in the world did not come to your talk so that you could just end up talking about yourself for 15 minutes. I know that I went and did research on a number of the speakers BEFORE the conference and found out all about their accolades and expertise, I don’t want to know more about you as the speaker.

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I want to know more about HOW you have gone about becoming successful in your respective fields. Or, in the case of most TED talks, tell me something supremely interesting and new. I don’t want to hear you punt and try and sell your movie off onto me. Tell me the background story. The why. The how. The reasons that you did these things and what the pros and cons are. Give me some actionable insight that I may be able to use right now in my life.

But I digress. Apart from the self-infatuated speakers the event was only about 50% full and became less so throughout the day. I’m not sure what reason for poor attendance might have been. I’m sure that with next year’s half decade, Linda Swart and her amazing group will pull out all of the stops to make the event bigger and better.tedxpretoria-10Already the catering and venue (the famous 012 Central) were absolutely perfect for an event of this nature. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the event ran flawlessly albeit a touch late. I really must commend Linda and her team for the supreme organisation that went into the conference. The little “Xmarket” showed a wide variety of some of the community’s up and coming entrepreneurs. It was so incredible to see TEDxPretoria giving these startups an opportunity and a platform to display their goods.

All in all, I would say that TEDxPretoria was a marvellously successful event. I wouldn’t hesitate going back next year.