Spotlight on: Kerry Stevenson

The TEDxWinnipeg Steering Committee is a dedicated group of talented volunteers who are passionate about ideas worth spreading. Part of our Spotlight series zeroes in on who they are, what they do, and what makes them tick for TEDx.

Kerry Stevenson

What role do you perform for TEDxWinnipeg?
I am in charge of the speaker team, which handles everything about speakers, emcees and entertainers. Specifically, we seek out some “headliners”, often notables from out of town, as well as putting out a call for speakers locally.

Our team sifts through the always-massive pile of applications to select not only a set of great talks, but also ensure a balanced view throughout the day’s program by including as many different stakeholder groups and emotional pivots as possible. It’s incredibly challenging to do this, particularly with the ever-increasing number of speaker applications.

And while I’m here, I must apologize to all those who applied but were not selected. This does not mean you have a “bad” talk. It just means we had a better fit with others, and I encourage everyone to apply again next year.

After speakers are selected, that’s definitely not the end of the job! We spend ridiculous amounts of time with our speakers to curate their talk material and coach their presentation style to achieve the levels of perfection you see on our stage. It’s a tremendous amount of work involving one-on-one work, as well as multiple rehearsals on the stage. I’m happy to say that in some cases, the speakers you’ve seen on our stage were actually delivering the very first public speech of their lives, believe it or not. And they nailed it.

How long have you been involved, and in what capacity?
My first involvement with this program was in late 2010, when I was selected to speak at the very first TEDx event in the province, TEDxManitoba 2011. It was a rudimentary affair, as the organizers were faced with figuring out how to run this kind of event with no prior examples, but it got done. However, in the process the video of my talk was lost forever.

Since then I’ve been running the speaker program for the event in years 2012 to present. We’ve managed to build up a very powerful team and process to manage the speakers, which has been quite successful in the past few years.

What do you do when you’re not TEDx-ing?
I’m semi-retired, which means I am working many part-time jobs. I am the CTO of Invenia Technical Computing, a machine-learning company. I also write one of the world’s largest blogs dedicated to 3D Printing technology, Fabbaloo. I also am one of the founders of AssentWorks, which has now become Canada’s largest maketspace by quite a margin.

Coincidentally, the development of AssentWorks was a direct result of my TEDx talk in 2011; we launched the project shortly thereafter and now it has grown significantly.

What made you interested in getting involved with TEDx?

Tired of uneducational TV, I bumped into TED many years ago and was amazed by the quality of the talks, many of which deeply affected my understanding of the world around me. Since then I’ve learned much from TED.

In 2010, I heard some friends were organizing a TEDx event and applied to speak in an attempt to achieve my personal fantasy: delivering a TEDx talk.

Which TED (or TEDx) talk do you think everyone should watch?
Hah, that’s impossible to say, because everyone is coming from a different worldview and TED talks make adjustments to that. My advice is to pursue talks within your area of interest – and areas you are not familiar with, and you’ll very soon be melting your brain with new concepts.

When asking attendees of our event, which talk they liked best, the answers are entirely varied. Some will like one talk, while others like a different one. Everyone is different, needing intellectual stimulation in different areas.

Pick your area and go for it!

What’s the best thing about TEDxWinnipeg?
For me, the best thing is that we are able to find often unknown people doing amazing things. Our program provides a way for them to elevate their idea – and often themselves to much greater heights.

If you were to peruse our list of previous speakers, you’ll frequently find them doing amazing things today, and I hope that appearing on our stage gave them a little push to help it along.

What idea do you want to spread?
Simply this: everyone should find a way to make their life, their city, country and indeed the world better. From the number of startling ideas we’ve seen (and many that didn’t quite make it to the TEDxWinnipeg stage), I am certain the number of people making things better is far larger than anyone suspects.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Norm MacDonald, obviously.

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