I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (2023)

What I learned from attending a TED conference about UX and the latest discussions about artificial intelligence

I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (1)

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thisTED talkThe conference hosts some of the biggest live TED talks every year. Read on for a recap of the conference experience, spicy AI discussions, and key takeaways I brought back to my team (and life).

TED (an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design) was launched in 1984. The first TED talk was posted online in 2006, thanks in no small part to the launch of YouTube. Today, TED has expanded to include TEDWomen, TED Countdown (all about climate), TEDTech (first held this year), TEDx (independent, locally organized event), and more. These events spawned conversations like Brene Brown'sfragile strengthItwo fromSome legends of Atlas that you may know.

I've been obsessed with TED for a while, and after feeling sad about virtual conferences in the pandemic era for a while, I signed up. (By the way, this is not a rant about virtual conferences, just a little background on why I crave immersive live events and connections.)

TED2023 takes place in Vancouver, BC ⇨🇦 and focuses on this topicpossibility.With over 80 speakers, presentations cover everything from the expected (new technology trends) to the unexpected (how to embrace life from the words of a death doula). Let's dive into the most prominent columns and highlights.

I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (3)

This has been one of the most stressful conference weeks I've ever had... ever. There are many areas of experience that I would love to pack up and share with you. Instead, here are some highlights.

The TED meeting experience spans multiple channels, starting with email notifications of pre-conference tasks such as setting up your profile and badge information, followed by a virtual meeting for new attendees, the TEDConnect app and best friends afterwards) meeting) and end with the experience of the meeting itself.

Two of the biggest highlights for me are badges and meeting emails. Conference badges have chips on them that you can scan in the TEDConnect app to instantly connect with people you meet in line or talk to at lunch (prevent awkward "wait, what's your name name?").

I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (4)

Meeting emails arrive the night before the full day of the event. They started after the first day with a photo of each participant (made possible through artificial intelligence and facial matching). At first you thought it would be a little weird to have your photo shown to every attendee, but then it's awesome when you realize that everyone has received a personalized photo of the event they attended the day before.

I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (5)
(Video) Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | TED

Key data of the van

When I share my impressions of a personalized meeting experience with my managerliam greger, in response to this great quote:

"Enjoy goes viral."

This is real. From the perspective of a design manager working in technology, I think we're doing ourselves a disservice by not including more great experiences in our plans for faster (and better) growth. I also think there will be a balance here that will require input from researchers and behavioral scientists to understand when a personalized experience hits the right note between creepy and wonderful.

Artificial intelligence was by far the biggest topic of discussion at the conference. In terms of technology, we have listened to each otheropen artificial intelligenceFounder Greg Brockman,Metafizika.aifounder Tom Graham, andHumanityFounder (and former Apple designer) Imran Chaudhri. Given the recent rise of AI-generatedFalse newsICurrent Gender and Racial BiasesAs is common with today's AI systems, the overall vibe in the audience is one of people yearning for the tech industry to be more responsible than what is heard on stage.

For example, I wish to explain more specifically why AI companies are not prioritizing reference and verification capabilities before rolling out products to billions of people around the world. That said, it's good to see some improvements announced as part of the latest iteration of GPT-4:

While I expected more responsibility from a technology-based AI talk, I was pleasantly surprised and inspired by the exploratory, educational, and artistic approach to AI. Sal Khan'sKhan AcademyAn excellent example showing how a version of ChatGPT with healthy limitations (such as requiring references and providing suggestions rather than answers) can be a powerful teaching and lesson planning tool. (His speech is now livehere.) There is also a strong contrast to this OpenAI talk given by researcher Yejin Choi, which I strongly encourage you to check out for our own AI guidelines and standards:

One last positive thing about AI, as a former ballet dancer, I was particularly drawn to this beautiful video, shown between dialogues, that combines a real human dancing with an AI interpretation of that dance. It gives me hope for ideas + engineers (author's discussion topicLucas Rizzotto) can be used together with this technique:

I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (6)

key details

  • The argument that "good actors" are fast cracking down on "bad actors" and cannot be stopped by "innovation-killing" regulation is a tiresome one. Instead, "good actors" should pave the way for a better AI future by being thoughtful and considering the long-term impact of their work. See Google's proposal on regulatory topicshere.
  • Some of the best examples of artificial intelligence today come from writers, artists, and musicians. I think there is a perception that all creatives are resistant to the changes that come with this rapid innovation. These are definitely troubling times, but we must give credit to the creatives who are pushing AI to new (and morally correct) heights.
  • AI can be used to create great user experiences. The daily TED conference email photos were certainly a little creepy at first, but as participants got used to them, the experience sparked a greater human connection.

Rather than the most powerful speeches of the entire convention, it was the stories, performances and appeals of courageous activists. Two of the conversations are fromNadya Tolokonnikova(Foundersmall commotion, her speech was broadcast livehere) IGershfi Farahani(activist and musician). to watchfive conversationsFrom activists when they're all published and ready with a box of tissues and a desire to turn that sentiment into action.

Great end to day 1Benzander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, and co-author of The Art of the Possible. He combines playing the piano with storytelling and leads the audience through complete songs (it's Beethoven and German, after all!). His memorable line "beyond the fuck" is designed to think outside the realm of the seemingly possible:

I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (7)

Some of my favorite talks this week also include those fromMaya Shankar(Cognitive scientist, ex-violinist and podcast hostslightly changed plans),anne morris(CEO, author and host of new TED podcastrepairable),cousin harriman(photographer, activist and founderCulture 3), IArthur Arthur(Death Doula and Founderwalk with grace):

I went to TED and all I got was this life changing experience (8)

key details

  • Sometimes the best ideas come from the least expected places. This goes back to embracing our diverse experiences and taking the time to discuss with colleagues something other than our latest project obsession. Don't stick to an idea just because you think you're an expert. Join the discussion to take this idea a step further!
  • There is no "I" in the team. Although all lectures are given by individual speakers, none of them would have been able to walk on that stage without the experience, learning and support of others. This is a reminder I bring back to my team so we can remember that sharing our work early and often will ultimately lead to a more successful experience for our clients.

Overall, TED2023 was a wonderful experience. This is an organization that is openly looking for ways to improve, so there are highs and lows, namely:

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  • There is a lack of voice in some discussions on key topics such as artificial intelligence. I saw this discussion in other parts of the meeting and was disappointed it didn't translate into a conversation that would have moved us forward instead of turning us around.
  • Difficult to find participants from similar events. I did a lot of manual searching on TEDConnect, and through friends of friends I found people I was really looking forward to talking to, both in my industry and adjacent industries, who could impact the work of my team.
  • There was a great town hall discussion on the last day that I had to miss, but it provided a great forum for attendees to refute conversations they disagreed with. When I re-watched the conference and talked to the rebuttals, I was a bit disappointed that the speakers themselves weren't there to respond.

Hey, you did this. Thanks for reading my TED blog. I would write (and tryvibrato video) on topics like virality of joy, the complexities of designing/writing with AI, and how we need to rethink the way we work that no longer serves us. If there is anything you are particularly interested in, please comment or leave me a messageLinkedIn


What does TED stand for? ›

A TED talk is a recorded public-speaking presentation that was originally given at the main TED (technology, entertainment and design) annual event or one of its many satellite events around the world. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks, often called "TED talks."

How often do Ted talks happen? ›

Held annually on the West Coast of North America, the TED Conference is at the heart of TED. More than a thousand people attend this five-day conference about Technology, Entertainment and Design -- as well as science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world.

How many TED talks happen a year? ›

Have you ever wonder How many TEDx talks are there? If you open the TED platform you will read that more than 3000 events are now held annually. That's HUGE! TEDx is not only the most respected stage in the world but also the biggest 'network' of events globally.

What is the main message of TED Talk? ›

Scientists, researchers, technologists, business leaders, artists, designers and other world experts take the TED stage to present “Ideas Worth Spreading”: valuable new knowledge and innovative research in their fields.

What does TED Talk mean slang? ›

(slang, humorous) Sarcastically or self-deprecatingly said at the end of a wordy and often preachy monologue.

How much does it cost to join TED? ›

So for the first time in our 34-year history, we're turning to you, our global online audience, to ask you to consider supporting TED financially. We're suggesting a monthly contribution of $5.

Can anybody do a TED Talk? ›

Who is qualified to give a TED Talk? Anyone with a great idea. The reason so many people enjoy these talks is because of the ideas, not the celebrity of the speakers.

How much do TED Talk speakers get paid? ›

TED does not pay speakers. We do, of course, cover travel costs and provide excellent hotel accommodation -- as well as a covetable pass to all five days of TED. Most speakers stay for the whole conference, soaking up the talks and connecting with other attendees.

What do you wear to a TED Talk audience? ›

There really isn't a dress code, except that pretty much no one wears ties at TED or TEDx events. Jeans are great and attire slightly dressier works too. Personal expressions of style are welcome and encouraged. We ask that you refrain from wearing tall hats since it might block the view of the person in front of you.

Does listening to TED Talks help? ›

Overall, the results showed that using TED Talks was more advantageous for listening development than using DVDs and CDs of the course textbook. The implications of this study can encourage EFL teachers to integrate TED Talks into their English classes.

How long do you have to prepare for a TED Talk? ›

Your speakers should be taking weeks or months to rehearse and memorize their talk. Learn more about speaker coaching, and how to spot warning signs that a speaker isn't prepared.

What are the benefits of doing a TED talk? ›

TED Talks can teach you about how to think critically about new or difficult information which is a skill that will benefit you almost immediately. Listening to experts present can also help you grow as a leader by providing you with advice about how to lead others and yourself with confidence.

What are the four talk styles to avoid? ›

The whole substance of a talk comes down to one key ingredient—the words you use to tell your story and guide your audience along their journey. Stay away from the four worst talk styles: the sales pitch, the ramble, the organization bore, and the stylish performance that lacks substance.

Why are TED talks so impactful? ›

What Makes TED Talks So Effective? TED talks stand out from other forms of presentations as an effective medium to convey accurate easy-to-understand information to a target audience. The organizers of these events and talks aren't in it for the money – they work passionately to spread ideas.

What is the difference between a TED talk and a TED talk? ›

The only thing you have to decide is which to watch first, leading many first-time viewers to ask, “What's the difference between TED and TEDx Talks? Essentially, TED Talks are aimed at a global audience while TEDx talks are designed for smaller, local audiences.

What does a TED talk look like? ›

In a TED Talk setting, this generally includes three sections. First, introduce your main idea and any background information. Second, present evidence for the main idea, so as to prove your point. Lastly, give your conclusion, based on the evidence provided.

Do you have to be invited to do a TED Talk? ›

Every year, as registration for the TED conference begins, a myth floats in the ether: many people think that you have to be invited to attend. Not true! To show your interest in attending TED, all you have to do is apply.

Can I attend a TED Talk for free? ›

Budget for the admission fee for the TED Talk.

If your application is accepted for a TED Talk Conference, you will need to pay the admission fee for attending the talk. The cost of attending depends on the membership type you selected when you applied. The base cost for attending a TED Talk is US$5,000.

Do the people who do TED Talks make money? ›

Speakers do not pay to be on TED and TEDx stages.

If you do so, your TEDx talk will be banned and never published. The above rules are valid for TED conferences as well. In other words, the money comes from sponsors and selling tickets to attendees, and are spend straight away for all the expenses around the event.

Who typically attends TED Talks? ›

We invite prominent academics, educators, researchers, philanthropists, environmentalists, scientists, technologists, artists, activists and others to attend and present short lectures – our signature TED Talks – in their areas of research and expertise.

Are TED Talks scripted? ›

TED-style talks are delivered without notes, from memory. THEY ARE NOT, as some people think, spontaneous; far from it! They are scripted and carefully rehearsed, often for months (or famously, in Susan Cain's case, for a year). In contrast, most business presenters use notes to deliver their speeches.

Do TED Talk translators get paid? ›

We don't pay translators, but we place great emphasis on crediting. Your name — and a link to your TED profile — will appear on the TED.com talk page of every translation you work on. You will also have a special page for translation credits on your TED.com profile.

How do you become a paid speaker? ›

How to become a paid speaker
  1. Become an expert. Although there are many types of paid speakers, most organizations hire paid speakers because they are seen as authorities on the topic they speak about. ...
  2. Develop your voice. ...
  3. Start small. ...
  4. Target your ideas. ...
  5. Use word of mouth. ...
  6. Grow your skills. ...
  7. Market yourself.
Jun 24, 2022

Where does TED Talk money go? ›

TED makes money through conference attendance fees, sponsorships, foundation support, licensing fees and book sales, and we spend it as soon as we get it — on video editing, web development and hosting for TED Talks and TED-Ed videos (ideas are free, but bandwidth is expensive…); support for community-driven ...

Why is TED Talk delivered only for 18 minutes? ›

A TED Talk is 18 minutes long—a length that was chosen by TED organizers based both on neuroscience and strategy. They understood that 18 minutes was long enough for a speaker to flesh out an idea, but short enough that a listener could take in, digest, and understand all of the important information.

How much do TED speakers get paid? ›

TED does not pay speakers. We do, of course, cover travel costs and provide excellent hotel accommodation -- as well as a covetable pass to all five days of TED. Most speakers stay for the whole conference, soaking up the talks and connecting with other attendees.

What are the criticism of TED Talks? ›

Several authors have criticized TED for flattening or dumbing down ideas so they fit into a preconceived, convenient format that is primarily designed to entertain. Consequently, the oversimplified ideas and concepts may provoke little effort from the learner to analyze data, theory, or controversy.

Can anyone do a TED Talk? ›

Who is qualified to give a TED Talk? Anyone with a great idea. The reason so many people enjoy these talks is because of the ideas, not the celebrity of the speakers.

What is the average time for a TED Talk? ›

Speakers and performers

Talks may be no longer than 18 minutes. This is the maximum length, not the goal of every talk. TED often asks speakers to present for 3, 5, or 9 minutes, so make sure your speaker knows how much time they have.

How long does it take to prepare a TED Talk? ›

Practice, practice, practice! The most-watched TED speakers prepare for a year, some rehearse their talk for 300 hours! They also actively seek public speaking opportunities to rehearse their talks with live audiences.

Do TED Talk speakers memorize their talks? ›

TED Talks are Often Scripted and Memorized

In the process of practicing, most of the speech becomes memorized. In the moment of performance, the memorization doesn't hinder the speakers authenticity. It simply allows them to deliver the speech they intended to deliver.

How do people get chosen for TED Talks? ›

Nominate a speaker

At TED, we search year-round for presenters who will inform and inspire, surprise and delight. If you know someone who belongs on the TED stage, or if you belong there yourself, we want to hear from you!

Do TED Talks use teleprompters? ›

Slides are a commonly incorporated element of TED Talks. TED presenters typically do not use teleprompter or notes, but they do offer "confidence monitors" at the feet of presenters. These allow presenters to glance down at see slides or notes without calling attention to itself.

What topics are banned from TED? ›

TED has no formal bans on any topic.
Red flag topics include:
  • “Healing,” including reiki, energy fields, alternative health and placebos, crystals, pyramid power.
  • “Free energy” and perpetual motion machines, alchemy, time travel.
Aug 14, 2019

Why do people like TED talks? ›

What Makes TED Talks So Effective? TED talks stand out from other forms of presentations as an effective medium to convey accurate easy-to-understand information to a target audience. The organizers of these events and talks aren't in it for the money – they work passionately to spread ideas.

Why TED talks are so powerful? ›

The TED Talk Difference

TED Talks are also interactive; this means the audience can be an active part of the presentation eliminating any form of boredom. TED Talks are short and precise; they usually last for about 5 to 18 minutes depending on the topic.

Do TED Talk people get paid? ›

Neither TED or TEDx pay speakers to be on their stage.

TED conference team covers the travel costs, hotel accommodation and gives a speakers' pass to all five days of the conference.

Do TED Talks get money? ›

TED speakers are not given money, though they are given a free conference pass (particularly valuable for the difficult-to-attend main conference) as well as travel needs depending on the budget.

How much does it cost to see a TED Talk? ›

$293.00 is often the average price you'll pay for your TEDx tickets. Some of TEDx speaking engagements have tickets listed for as high as $518.00, but attendees can find cheap TEDx tickets for as low as $137.00 a ticket.


1. "Everything happens for a reason" -- and other lies I've loved | Kate Bowler
2. After watching this, your brain will not be the same | Lara Boyd | TEDxVancouver
(TEDx Talks)
3. Robert Downey Jr's Speech Will Leave You SPEECHLESS — Best Life Advice
(Motivation Mentors)
4. 7 Life-changing Lessons From The Longest Ever Study On Health & Happiness! Dr Robert Waldinger
(The Diary Of A CEO)
5. Louise Hay - These Simple Words Will Clean Your Mental State! | Life Changing Advice
6. The 100 Percent Rule That Will Change Your Life | Benjamin Hardy | TEDxKlagenfurt
(TEDx Talks)


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