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Celebrity isn’t at the centre of this podcast; ideas themselves are the draw

By Lisa Van de Ven

Established in 1984, the TED conference series originated as a place to bring together people from three distinct fields: technology, entertainment and design. But the conference grew in scope and popularity, becoming an experience unto itself. The speakers were at the top of their fields, the topics unique and the ticket prices exorbitant.   

But TED has become more accessible these days with the TEDTalks podcast series. Featuring the best speakers from the TED conferences and partner events, the podcasts allows anyone who’s interested the chance to experience the lectures first-hand. And today TED explores a lot more than technology, entertainment and design, covering fields as diverse as architecture, health, science, psychology and religion. 

Sometimes the speakers themselves are well known, but most of the time the people onstage aren’t household names. Celebrity isn’t at the centre of TED; the ideas themselves are the draw. 

The scope of the talks can run the gamut. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, talks about creativity, exploring the difference between being a genius and having genius. “Keep showing up,” she says, even when those moments of brilliance don’t. Anthropologist and writer Wade Davis explains why westerners shouldn’t consider our society more progressive than any other. 

The points presented are often inspiring and unexpected, and TED speakers are passionate and engaging tour guides. More times than not, you’ll reach the end of the podcast feeling that much smarter than when you began. 

Lisa Van de Ven is a freelance writer in Toronto.
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