Seigi Karasaki

Organizer @ TEDxTodai, TEDxTodai


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A well-balanced TEDx speaker line-up consists of..

Hi! First post here. I'm the tentative co-organizer for TEDxUTokyo (Tokyo Uni) for 2013. I say tentative b/c we have not yet renewed our licence. Nice to meet you all.

Our team is currently in the midst of brainstorming a list of speakers for the upcoming event (crossing our fingers for May). The consensus we've reached is that though we would ideally like to have the majority of our speakers be 1) directly affiliated with UTokyo and 2) students/young speakers who have not yet had a chance to voice their ideas, we realize that there is also a lot of value in inviting established, well-known speakers as well.

Before we split off for the winter holidays (90% of the members are current students), it was brought up that it would be helpful to have a guideline to use in individual brain-storming sessions over break. Since TED(x) stresses a balanced line-up of speakers from a variety of different backgrounds, the proposed guideline would provide initial categories (e.g. hard sciences, humanities, social justice, education, etc.) of speakers and topics. Any thoughts? We would greatly appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions you all may have regarding this idea.

This is all very, very exciting. Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy question.


Seigi Karasaki

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    Dec 24 2012: Hi Seigi, I'm not sure if I met you earlier in the year at a TEDxTokyo meeting :) but here are my 2 yen. I think your line up should benefit UTokyo students, but expand their perspective beyond what they already know about the university and themselves. As well, if it is recorded for a worldwide audience later on Youtube, these types of speakers would be relatable to viewers everywhere, though they are coming out of Japan:

    1. I think it would be interesting to invite members of Japanese society who never went to university. Like, people who have succeeded or have solved life's problems without going through the regular channels of a prestigious education like at U Tokyo--it would be interesting to hear how they did it. This would be interesting, rare and perhaps controversial for a UTokyo event!

    2. Invite a UTokyo alumnus who has spent many years abroad working on an extraordinary project. It would be great to know how this person feels his/her top-tier education helped (or not) and how he/she thinks the mixture of ideas from Japan and abroad can create synergy to solve upcoming problems.
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      Dec 24 2012: Congratulations for your good ideas! :-)
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      Dec 30 2012: Hi Genevieve,

      Thanks for your awesome input! I really like both 1 and 2. I will definitely delve into both and see what I can come up with.

      I haven't met you yet! Are these TEDxTokyo meetings frequent? I would love to show up sometime and acquire some knowledge/insight/inspiration if possible.
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    Dec 23 2012: I'd like to express my admiration for the Japanese culture, education and social behaviour. In my opinion, these are pretty good topics for world wide spreading. Many of us could learn some things of and about Japanese people.
  • Dec 18 2012: People that did the work to realize a dream.

    People that have had to solve some of the complex realities of life.

    People that have overcome adversity or a handicap of some kind.

    People that have taken the initiative to apply their passion to a big problem and made a difference.

    People that have learned how to motivate, influence, and inspire people with their words.

    Children in bad situations that have refused to give up hope.

    Someone that has real advice on living on a budget that is commensurate with a very low income of a recent graduate

    A college psychiatrist to talk about mental health issues through college and during transition and negative life events

    Someone to speak about taking initiative and APPLYING what has been learned rather than waiting to be told what to do.
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    Dec 18 2012: I think it's important to consider a lot of different things. For starters you have to consider people's attention span. While the idea being presented might seem like a great idea to the speaker doesn't always come out that way everybody else. It's difficult though because you are walking the fine line between education and entertainment. So if the subject is important and informative does it matter that it's boring?

    As far as the flow of your lineup I'm not so sure that should be your goal. I don't think there's any way to make hard sciences flow with education. I also don't think you should limit speakers or inform them that their ideas have somehow conform with the previous person's ideas because that would defeat the purpose of brainstorming.

    I think what you're going for is entertainment value. In order to facilitate an environment where people aren't falling asleep you need to constantly add new outside stimuli. The brain will fall into an idle state if you consistently throw out the same information repeatedly. So the answer is keep it fresh. Allow your speakers to brainstorm about the idea and how they're going to present that idea.

    I think a good way to start would be writing all the topics on a piece of paper. Should then rank these topics by popular vote. What is the most popular subject in the group? Any good event should have a climax at some point. It would probably be beneficial to build up to an event or certain speaker and then wind down from there.

    I also wouldn't be afraid to do some on-the-fly changes. You should have somebody at the event that constantly monitors the output of your speakers. Somebody that can actually manage the crowd and understand the general mood of the audience. You shouldn't be afraid to separate speakers based on ability and place those individuals accordingly.

    Keep it fresh.

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      Dec 30 2012: ''I think a good way to start would be writing all the topics on a piece of paper. Should then rank these topics by popular vote. What is the most popular subject in the group? Any good event should have a climax at some point. It would probably be beneficial to build up to an event or certain speaker and then wind down from there.''

      Fantastic idea. I think this is an interesting approach. Thanks!
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    Dec 18 2012: Just as a TED fan I'll add my ideas to the brainstorm;

    Seeing how Japan is the world leader in elderly care robotics and the rest of the world knows so little on the subject, speaker on that subject would be great and as far as I know it has not been a topic cover before in a TED talk.

    Personally just last night I watched a show on Bhutan and its push for “Gross National Happiness” and GNH is a topic I would enjoy hearing more about. So an expert in that field I believe would be a good speaker to look for.
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    Dec 18 2012: I hope we see the session here, hopefully we get to see it in native as well as a speakers native dialect, the translators go unsung here on Ted, soon the total knowledge source of our planet will be sung in whatever the sources feels comfortable in.

    We need more translators.
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      Dec 30 2012: Thanks Ken. I completely agree. I've found that a lot/most/all of our talks from last year aren't subtitled on youtube. I'll be sure to change that for this year.
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    J Chang

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    Dec 18 2012: First off, congrats on your willingness to provide innovative and thought provoking venues to your community, rock on! Although I am not an offical TEDx organizer, I have a TEDx like group that I host a monthly event that features distinguished speakers of various specialities. When I seek out potential speakers I shoot for the stars. I will try to get the most interesting and well known people in that subject, it never hurts to ask - you'll be surprised at their willingness to participate. These are the things that I consider:
    1. Hot topics in the world, ie: 3D printers, DIY, Physics/Astromony, politics, and arts.
    2. I pick a theme for my event and vary the topics. I'll never have two speakers on a similar subject talk.
    3. I meet up with all of my potential speakers first to see what their personality is like, and how passionate they are about what they do (that is very important. Their passion will transcend to the audience and keep them engaged).
    4. I know the demographics of my members. So I'll find something that interests everyone, from music to surgical innovations.

    Remember that you are bringing value to your community, enabling them to explore and expand their minds. Have fun in the process, and don't stress too much - things will fall into place naturally.

    Good Luck.