4 Conferences to See Great Speeches in 2009

December 29, 2008

1. In February, the annual TED Conference turns a quarter of a century old, and will be celebrating its 25th in its new digs in Long Beach, Calif. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) has apparently outgrown the Monterey Convention Center – even though the conference remains by invitation-only, and the world’s mover’s and shakers hope each year they get an invite. This year’s conference will be held Feb. 3-7. Many of its best speeches can be found at Ted.com.

TED’s mission is “to spread ideas that change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world.” Those who are asked to speak are challenged to give “the talk of his/her life” in 18 minutes.

In past posts, I’ve written about some that I have found most fascinating, such as those by storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy, former eBay president Jeff Skoll and Comedian Julia Sweeney. But it’s hard to keep up, because the conference organizers pull from their archives and post (not so) new ones online nearly every week. Well, they speeches are new to the public anyway.

2. Ignite Portland: If you had five minutes on stage, what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically rotated after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers. Ignite Portland 5 will be held on Feb. 19, 2009.

3. In August, ten Toastmaster International contestants from different parts of the world will compete for the title of World Champion of Public Speaking after surviving a six-month long process of six elimination rounds. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has grown to become a world leader in helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit organization has nearly 235,000 members in 11,700 local clubs in 92 countries, offering a proven way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills on a monthly, bi-monthly or evenly weekly basis.

This year’s four-day convention will be held from Aug. 12-15, in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

4. In October, Pop!Tech brings together 500 visionary thinkers in the sciences, technology, business, design, the arts, education, government and culture. It’s a three-day summit held in Camden, Maine. Famous musical conductor and renowned keynote speaker Benjamin Zander’s speech on the Art of Possibility from last year is very interesting. You can watch it here on Pop!Tech’s site or below.

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