Drumroll, please! Announcing the 2019 TEDxBoise speakers

 2019 Speakers with speaker coaches Kirsten and Nancy and license holder Molly.

2019 Speakers with speaker coaches Kirsten and Nancy and license holder Molly.

After a weeks-long process involving application reviews, pitch sessions, and lengthy deliberations, we’re proud to announce who will be gracing our “red dot” with their idea worth spreading:

Be sure your calendar is marked for April 20th for our FIFTH ANNUAL event. Tickets will be on sale soon. We look forward to sharing ideas with you in a just a few months!

Photo Credit: Fiona Montagne

The TEDxBoise Experience

Below is a guest post from TEDxBoise 2018 speaker, Brooke Linville. 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 2019 event; the application link closes at 11:59pm on September 28th.

Giving a talk at TEDxBoise last May was one of the most incredible experiences of my life—and I’ve been invited to Google, snorkeled the reefs in the Bahamas, and helped raise $12 million to save my college.


I almost didn’t submit my idea. What if no one wanted to hear about my efforts to save my school? Thanks to some encouragement from my friends, I did it anyway. At the time, it was just an idea, a spark, something that had happened. It wasn’t a talk, not when I pitched it to the TEDxBoise team.

But it became one, thanks to the support of my speaker coach who helped guide me along the way. The first time I met with her, I shared a lot about myself and my story, details that wouldn’t make it into any of my TEDxBoise drafts but that I needed to process through to find the nugget of story that would thread its way through my talk. The next time we met, I came back with a first pass of the first five minutes of my talk; it was a draft I was proud of.

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In addition to the coaching, the TEDxBoise speakers and volunteers became a part of my family. We had monthly get-togethers to discuss elements of the event and also create support and community, which helped calm nerves and generate excitement in the days leading up to the event. These were people I could count on to hold my hand as the anxiety mounted.

And the anxiety did mount, which I managed by practicing over and over and over again. One of the great parts of having about five months of lead time is that you not only have the opportunity to refine the talk, but you also have the time to practice with so that the delivery is the best it can be. In some rehearsals with the other speakers, I found out that when I said, “I love As” (as in the letter grade) it sounded like “I love eggs,” which obviously gave a different feel to the talk! I added a graphic to fix the problem.

The day of the event was amazing. The team supported the speakers, ensuring that each person gave the best talk they could. I needed time alone, and I got that, practicing my talk one final time in the hallway at JUMP. My coach even sang a few inspiring lyrics with me in the bathroom as I mic’ed up.

And then it was time.

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. And the TEDxBoise that will help you get there.  

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!

The link is open from now until September 28 at 11:59pm. We really can’t take any late applications, so make sure you get your application in on time!

Click here to apply.

Here are the other important dates for your calendars (required for speakers; please mark your calendar)

  • Selected applicants receive invites to pitch their ideas: October 8
  • Applicant pitch sessions: October 15 and 16 (evening)
  • Speakers notified of selection: October 18
  • Speaker workshop: November 10 (daytime)
  • Dress rehearsal: April 19
  • The main event: April 20

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

Getting the 2019 TEDxBoise party started

If you’re hoping to speak at TEDxBoise 2019 on April 20th at JUMP!, we look forward to receiving your application.

The application link will open September 1. If you’re subscribed to our newsletter, you’ll receive an email alerting you that it’s live. In the meantime, if you’d like to prepare, take note of these details:

What you’ll need to provide in the application:

  • Your personal and contact information.
  • A concise summary of your idea. Show us you can distill it into a bite-sized morsel.
  • A few sentences on why the idea is worth spreading. Is it new? Is it a new take on an existing idea? (Check out existing TED and TEDx talks to be sure.)
  • 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 (click here) 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 28 at 11:59pm
  • Selected applicants receive invites to pitch their ideas: October 8
  • Applicant pitch sessions: October 15 and 16 (evening)
  • Speakers notified of selection: October 18
  • Speaker workshop: November 10 (daytime)
  • Dress rehearsal: April 19 (all day)
  • The main event: April 20 (all day)

What’s expected:

  • Speakers will be required to attend the speaker workshop on November 10 and approximately five individual coaching sessions with one of the TEDxBoise speaker coaches, Nancy and Kirsten. 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 five months. Are you ready to take on that challenge?
  • Flexibility and endurance. Bring your long game; this effort takes time and a willingness to adapt to changes. You’ll need to be coachable and communicative with our team.
  • 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

Explore and Discover with Us

As an enthusiast of TED Talks and a proud sponsor of TEDxBoise, the University of Idaho challenges what we know and pursues a future filled with possibility and adventure. The Vandals’ desire to explore also embodies who we are at TEDx. This year’s theme, “Uncharted Territory: Putting Ideas on the Map,” is a bold reflection of the explorer in all of us. 

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Together, through sharing and learning, we exemplify a trailblazing state of being and an entrepreneurial spirit, while embracing our roots and the contributions of multiple cultures, identities and perspectives. We spread ideas and engage in thoughts and actions that are environmentally and fiscally sustainable, all while enhancing our scientific, economic, social, legal and cultural standing. We develop critical-thinking skills that help us discover solutions to the most complex issues of our time.

As Idaho’s premier research university, U of I is committed to creating new ideas that are worth spreading on the map — charting a course toward a better future for everyone. So too will the guest speakers at TEDxBoise 2018. Together, we’ll discover new paths, explore uncharted territory and accomplish great things.

For more information about the University of Idaho, visit uidaho.edu and follow the university on social media at facebook.com/uidaho, instagram.com/uidaho and twitter.com/uidaho.

Interview with a Speaker Coach

Our TEDxBoise Speaker Coaches took time to answer pressing questions about the life of a speaker coach. Speaker coaches are one of the most important roles in making sure our speakers are comfortable, confident, and articulate in expressing their ideas on the TEDxBoise stage. Keep reading to learn more about our coaches perspective AND what our speakers go through before delivering their talks.

First off, let’s get to know our coaches!

    Nancy Buffington combines her past life as an English professor with her current work as a public speaking coach to help people find their voices and tell their stories. Along with coaching private clients and leading corporate trainings, she’s coached TEDxBoise speakers since we started in 2015.

 Nancy Buffington combines her past life as an English professor with her current work as a public speaking coach to help people find their voices and tell their stories. Along with coaching private clients and leading corporate trainings, she’s coached TEDxBoise speakers since we started in 2015.

 Kirsten Holmberg has been part of the TEDxBoise team since our 2016 event and is also a former  TEDx speaker . As a writer, editor, speaking coach, and owner of  Platform Idaho  and the  Idaho Speakers Bureau , she loves all things word-related.

Kirsten Holmberg has been part of the TEDxBoise team since our 2016 event and is also a former TEDx speaker. As a writer, editor, speaking coach, and owner of Platform Idaho and the Idaho Speakers Bureau, she loves all things word-related.

 What's it like to coach a TEDx speaker?

 NANCY BUFFINGTON: Incredibly fun! And fascinating. I get to spend quality time with amazing, deep thinkers, and to hear a much longer version of their talks. I learn a ton about many different ideas and issues.

In terms of the coaching, it’s different for every single speaker. The preparation process is long—4-6 months—so I get to know each speaker well, and we usually form a pretty tight bond because of the intensity around preparing to give a talk on the TEDx stage. Sometimes their journey is mostly about content: assessing and re-assessing the huge amount that they know about their idea, and figuring out what piece is most valuable to share. Sometimes it’s really emotional—because of personal experiences they’re sifting through, or because they have to get up-close-and-personal with doubts and insecurities as they prepare to stand on that red dot. And often it’s a mixture of the two.

KIRSTEN HOLMBERG: In one word, FUN. I enjoy working with our speakers from the beginning—a nascent idea—all the way through to the high-five or hug when they come off the stage. As coaches, we get to bring our speakers into our TEDxBoise and larger TEDx community, which is pretty special. It’s a little like having backstage passes to a concert: we see all the hard work that happens behind the scenes and then relish in watching them bring their efforts to fruition.

What do you do with speakers during your coaching sessions?

 NANCY BUFFINGTON: Again, that varies by speaker and topic. But overall, I work with them first on content. I get to see their idea evolve from its earliest, sometimes kind of general version, into something that’s focused, fleshed out and structured. Then we work on delivery—everything from pacing and body language to breathing and anxiety management (sometimes a lot of that last one ☺). And finally, I help them prepare for all those practical details that make a difference during the event: where the cameras will be, how to ignore the huge screens projecting ginormous live versions of them as they speak, what to eat that day so they have energy but don’t get queasy.

 KIRSTEN HOLMBERG: Each speaker seems to need something slightly different, and that’s the beauty of coaching: we can tailor our sessions to suit their needs. Some speakers need guidance structuring their talk. Others need help with body language. Still others are looking for tools to help them overcome the anxiety of taking the stage. We’ll work on whatever is most important that day. Last week one of my speakers needed to be reinvigorated for the effort—so we spent part of the session revisiting the “why” and found a strategy for remaining focused on that until May 5th.

What has surprised you most about coaching these speakers?

 NANCY BUFFINGTON: How totally human we all are. I’ve coached speakers for six TEDx events now, and I coached a TED Fellow too, who’s spoken on the big TED stage. No matter how accomplished, eloquent and polished, it’s been the very rare speaker who doesn’t at some point express doubt about their idea or fear of screwing up onstage. I love how open they are about this—and it helps me support them better.

KIRSTEN HOLMBERG: What surprises (and delights) me is watching each of the speakers surprise themselves. Their self-discovery in the process of crafting their talks is unpredictable and thoroughly enjoyable. They meet unforeseen obstacles, and even if momentarily derailed, ultimately conquer each. They find new aspects and applications for their ideas along the way. They unearth personal strengths (and, occasionally, weaknesses) they didn’t know they had and continue to learn about themselves throughout the effort. I never know where the coaching process will take them—except to the stage. The rest of the journey is a mystery we unfold together.

 What does it take to become a TEDx speaker?

 NANCY BUFFINGTON: You have to have a great, specific idea that’s new, that makes a contribution to our thinking on that topic. It’s not about your desire to be on the TEDx stage—or really even about being an accomplished speaker. TED and TEDx talks are about rich ideas, not perfect delivery. Which you’ve probably noticed. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk is a good example: he’s charming but definitely not a “perfect” speaker in the conventional sense. And his talk has been seen at least 50 million times.

What TEDx-style tips can you offer anyone looking to improve their speaking skills?

KIRSTEN HOLMBERG: TEDx- and TED-style speaking is, as Nancy mentioned, focused primarily on the idea, not the speaker’s ability. There’s wisdom to apply across all genres of speaking in that practice: by attending primarily to great content—aiming to serve the audience—the pressure comes off the speaker to “put on a great show” and instead liberates them to share their story and knowledge with authenticity. That authenticity fosters connection with audiences and ultimately results in a really meaningful experience for speaker and audience alike.

What else don't we know?

NANCY BUFFINGTON: Most people don’t know that the talks they watch online have been edited. Little “blips” happen often in these events all over the world: a speaker loses their place, trips on a word or on the carpet, the mic suddenly gives out or the slides don’t advance. The videographers do a masterful job editing the talks, so the end result is often much smoother than the original, live version. Which is an important reason NOT to compare your own speaking ability to the talks you see online! They’ve often gone through the film equivalent of air-brushing.

KIRSTEN HOLMBERG: What most people don’t realize is what a lengthy process preparing a TEDx talk is. Speakers apply for a spot on the state about 10 months before the actual event (we fielded applications last August for this year’s event). The selection process takes a few months. After being selected, our speakers begin with a group workshop which officially kicks off the individual coaching process, which is spread out over five or six months. Most people don’t even realize that coaching is part of giving a great talk!

Announcing our 2018 Speakers and Theme


Over the last 3 years, TEDxBoise has covered ‘Icebreaking’ topics, ‘Reframed Radical,’ and ‘Explored. Exposed. Expanded.’ This year, TEDxBoise is in ‘Uncharted Territory: Putting Ideas on the Map.’ Join us in reflecting on the past and living in the present while we question what we know and seek out what we do not. The future is for wanderers, seekers, and the unknown paths they will take. TEDxBoise 2018 is arriving at JUMP’s Pioneer Room on May 5, 2018. This year, the event brings you:

  • The TEDx Talks – Our speakers will share their journeys and discoveries.

  • Breakout Sessions – Your opportunity to connect and discuss with your community.

  • Live Music and Refreshments – Local artists and vendors bringing you the best of Boise.

  • The After Party – decompress and explore with the audience and speakers.

Our speakers will take our minds on a trek to explore new topics or visit familiar ones with a different perspective. Capitalism, 3D Printing, Queerspawn, and River Surfing are just a few of the talks on this year’s itinerary. Over the coming months we will be keeping you informed by interviewing our speakers and releasing more detailed information. Here’s the 2018 speaker lineup:

  • Gabe Bentz

  • Brian Fretwell

  • Amy Gile

  • Alecia Hoobing

  • Brooke Linville

  • Shannon McGuire

  • David Murray

  • Natalie Perry

  • Paul Primus

  • Noah Siple

  • Matthew Weatherly-White

  • Gwen Young

Join the party: the perfect summer cocktail of past speakers, fresh ideas, and teams of volunteers

Join the party: the perfect summer cocktail of past speakers, fresh ideas, and teams of volunteers

We’re inviting you to join us as we start to plan for 2018 event! Come, get acquainted with the returning organizers, meet past speakers (who are full of great advice!), ask your questions about the speaker selection and coaching process, and find out how to become part of the volunteer team.

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