The TEDxBoise Experience

Below is a guest post from TEDxBoise 2019 speaker, Elisabeth Sharp McKetta. In it she shares what the TEDxBoise experience was like from a speaker’s perspective. If you’ve got an idea worth spreading, be sure to submit your application to speak at our 2020 event; the application link closes at 11:59pm on September 22nd.


Part of being a writer means hearing “no” 95% of the time. When TEDxBoise debuted in 2015, I applied….and heard “no.” No matter—I applied again in 2016.

 And 2017.

 And 2018.

And finally, for TEDxBoise 2019, I sent in another application, this time about my tiny house family life and I connected it to the art of poetry. I received, to my delight, a “yes.” 


It is a serious privilege to work alongside a coach on your idea. As a writer, I thought the writing would be easy, the presentation hard, but it turned out to be the reverse. TEDxBoise—presenting an “idea worth spreading” from the red dot in front of my community and, perhaps, the world—felt bigger than anything professional I had ever done. (Not bigger than anything personal—having babies is another story.) I wrote draft after draft, which my patient coach received. She gave encouragement and helped me see the themes at work. Each draft was probably fine, but I wanted it to be GREAT—and so did my coach and the entire TEDxBoise team.

 When I woke morning after morning in the early hours of the fall and winter, my sleeping husband would croak at me, “Please do not write another draft.” But I did. After (too) many drafts, my coach and I agreed it was time to stop drafting and begin rehearsing.

 I am a fifth-generation spaz, so I expected the stage part to be all about grounding and speaking slowly. What it was about, instead, was bringing the talk to life. Not as a written thing, but a spoken thing. A presented, true thing. An idea, more than a story or a lecture. And the work of this felt humbling, sacred, and quiet. I wanted to tell it quietly, as if reading it from a page. I learned so much from my coach about coloring words with their meaning by using variations in my voice and movement with my body, when to stand still, when to move.

 I rehearsed and rehearsed, for weeks on end. While I was walking, sitting, driving, showering. The morning after TEDxBoise, I woke up early and out of instinct began to rehearse again. But then I remembered the exhilaration of the day before, the thrill of being part of such a lasting event, of hearing my co-presenters’ stories, how the nerves gave way to the preternatural calm that took over my body as I began to speak. So I told the guard-dog in my head, “Put down the bone.”

 The work has been done.

 The idea has been released into the world.

 Into the constellation of other TED, and TEDx talks, where it will live forever and, I hope, inspire other ideas.

 Do you have an idea worth spreading? What’s a defining moment that made your perspective shift? What ideas do you have that haven’t yet been given their due consideration? What do you wish other people knew more about? Apply to speak at TEDxBoise: the red dot is waiting for you.

Behind the scenes—and how you can be part of our 2020 event

If you’ve ever attended TEDxBoise, you know exactly how much fun it is.


There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to create a terrific experience for those who attend TEDxBoise. We have an all-volunteer team of talented individuals who lend their expertise to make your time with us unforgettable. Learn more about the people who craft the attendee experience and the set, manage our web presence, coach our speakers, communicate through social media and oversee talk translation, recruit entertainment and direct what happens on stage, coordinate day-of volunteers, and foster your opportunity to mingle with speakers at the after party. Plus, our event director and event producer who tirelessly shepherd the planning team and work to ensure our event complies with the TED guidelines.

Several of our core team members “retired” from the TEDxBoise crew after our 2019 event. Rachael Moyer and Christian Carley have begun new adventures in other parts of the country and world, respectively. Nancy Buffington is still working in the Boise area, and will continue to serve on our board of directors, but has turned over the speaker coaching reins to our other coach, Kirsten Holmberg. Each of them will be missed deeply and have our sincerest gratitude.

How will you participate in 2020?

  • As an idea-presenter on our red dot? Don’t miss the application window—open now until 11:59pm on September 22nd.

  • As part of the volunteer production team or day-of volunteer? Drop us a line to indicate your interest in volunteering?

  • As an idea-spreader in our live audience on April 11th at JUMP? Subscribe and stay tuned for ticketing details toward the end of the year.

Call for ideas worth spreading! (Accepting applications until September 22nd.)

The link to apply to speak at our 2020 event is OPEN! We can’t wait to see what fantastic ideas Boise has to share with our team—and the world! You’ll notice that we’re calling for great ideas, not great speakers.That’s because TED and TEDx talks are about the idea itself, not the person sharing it.

We’re interested in new and exciting discoveries made by our Treasure Valley-ish people. Who has made you think differently about something? Changed your perspective or the way you live? Encourage them to apply—or submit your own application. For brownie points, Tweet it to @TEDxBoise also.

The link is open from now until September 22 at 11:59pm. We really can’t take any late applications, so make sure you get it in on time!

Here are the other important dates for your calendars (required for all speakers):

  • Selected applicants receive invites to pitch their ideas: October 2

  • Applicant pitch sessions: October 6-10 (please save all dates until notified)

  • Speakers notified of selection: October 14

  • Speaker workshop: October 26

  • Mandatory rehearsals:

    • February 29

    • March 14

    • April 4

    • April 10

  • The main event: April 11

If you missed our last post, it contained some other important information. Review it here.

Casting the vision for TEDxBoise 2020 (See what we did there?)


Can you see yourself sharing an idea from the TEDxBoise stage on April 11th? If so, roll up your sleeves and begin preparing your application.

The application link will open September 1 (and close at 11:59pm September 22). If you’re subscribed to our newsletter, you’ll receive an email alerting you that it’s live. In the meantime, here’s what you’ll need to have ready to apply:

  • A concise summary of your idea. Show us you can distill it into a bite-sized morsel. (Tip: “Twitter test” it. Can you Tweet it in a single Tweet?)

  • A few sentences on why the idea is worth spreading. Is it new? Is it a new take on an existing idea? Why does the world need your idea? (Tip: Check out existing TED and TEDx talks to see what has already been said on your topic. Make sure you can back your idea with credible proof—not just your anecdotal experience.) 

  • A few sentences on why you’re the right person to share it. We won’t need a full bio and you don’t have to be a great speaker—TED-style talks are about ideas, not speaking ability. Tell us how you’re connected to your idea.

TED offers these guidelines and suggests the following prompts to help you (and us) vet your idea:

  • What's a controversy in your field that a general audience would understand?

  • What's a common misconception you'd love to clear up?

  • Why is this idea important and to whom?

  • Who would disagree with you and why? 

  • How did you carry out this idea in your own work?

  • What's the big idea behind your new project? How did you sell that idea to funders and collaborators?

Mark your calendars (really—we mean it: mark them!)

  • Application link opens: September 1

  • Application link closes: September 22 at 11:59pm

  • Selected applicants receive invites to pitch their ideas: October 2

  • Applicant pitch sessions: October 6-10 (please save all dates until notified)

  • Speakers notified of selection: October 14

  • Speaker workshop: October 26

  • Mandatory rehearsals:

    • February 29

    • March 14

    • April 4

    • April 10

  • The main event: April 11 at JUMP!

What’s expected:

  • Speakers will be required to attend the speaker workshop on October 26, each of the rehearsals listed above, and five individual coaching sessions with TEDxBoise speaker coach Kirsten Holmberg. Our team wants you to own that red dot like a boss; these sessions help you prepare your content and delivery.

  • Practice. A lot of it. Most of our speakers spent an average of 1-2 hours per week preparing for their talk over the course of many months—and much more in the four weeks leading up to the event. Are you ready to take on that challenge?

  • Flexibility and humility. Your expertise—your idea—will earn you a spot on the dot if selected. And we genuinely dig your awesomeness. TEDx talks are a specific genre and the process is different than others. You’ll need to be coachable and willing to adapt to the format.

  • Community. By being a TEDxBoise speaker, you’re joining a special group of people. Our tribe of speakers and volunteers enjoys each other, works hard, and sticks together. You’ll be a champion for our event in person and on social media before, during, and after the event.

For bonus points, we recommend reading up on all things TED- and TEDx-related. Review the links below to round out your understanding.

What is a TEDx talk?
Content guidelines
The makings of a great talk

Hit us with your best shot!

Hit us with your best shot!

The link to apply to speak at our 2019 event is OPEN! We can’t wait to see what fantastic ideas Boise has to share with our team—and the world! If you’re not ready to give a talk this year, please encourage your friends and colleagues to apply: you, our faithful TEDx-ers, are our best resource in the application process by recruiting some great ideas from Boise and beyond!

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