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.