TEDxManchester – Reconnecting with the joy of learning

Written by: Emily on February 12, 2019

“Today is about zooming out and reconnecting with the joy of learning,” says Herb Kim, Founder of TEDxManchester. Which are two things that the 2,000+ ‘TEDsters’ (that’s the term for TED geeks!) definitely did at this year’s TEDxManchester, which has been running for 8 years and was, in fact, one of the first ever TEDx events in the UK, and remains one of the largest.

We were blown away by the range of inspirational and thought-provoking speakers standing on the red dot this year. Our thanks go to the wonderful people at Bruntwood, who supported the events bursary scheme – which enabled three of the InnovateHer team members to attend. But if you missed it, don’t worry. We couldn’t have our community missing out on all the inspiration, so here are our team’s favourite three (technically five) speakers from TEDxManchester 2019, along with a summary of why they found them inspiring.

Jo Morfee – Top pick: Chris Bailey: ‘Hyper Focus’

It’s hard to pick a highlight, but I loved Chris Bailey’s talk on productivity and focus. In essence, Chris says we’re overstimulated on a daily basis and crave distraction. Many of us manage multiple devices, utilising multiple apps and platforms too. This results in the average human brain now maintaining only a 40-second attention span.

Chris advocates that we should all try taking a digital detox for a week & see what happens: through his study he has found that it takes about 7 days to fully switch off. Ideally, our digital breaks should be longer than this to truly feel the effect. He promises we will find that our attention spans improve, we’ll have more ideas, we’ll spend more time in reality with our loved ones making actual memories, and by having more focus, we’ll become more productive.

By limiting his own screen time to just 30 minutes a day, Chris found he was able to be more productive and also present in the moment more often. Many of us are living in the past or the future constantly and not in the here and now (do you recognise that in yourself?)

So why not try disconnecting at a certain time each evening, or having one day a week off. Personally, I’ve found that having a ‘digital curfew’ can really help me to relax, or doing activities where I can’t be near my devices for a specific amount of time can be hugely beneficial.

You can order a copy of Chris’ new book, ‘Hyper Focus’ here. Hyperfocusbook.com

Emily –  Top pick: Katherine Ormerod: ‘Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life’

Three billion people around the globe myself included, currently use Social Media, spending on average around two and a half hours a day scrolling through the various channels available. During this time, we are often only exposed to the ‘instagrammable’ aspects of people’s lives. In her TEDx Talk Katherine Ormerod stressed the importance of remembering that not every post has a picture-perfect story behind it.

To burst the filtered bubble encompassing her Instagram feed, last year Katherine started to re-upload her seemingly perfect pictures with candid captions revealing the truth behind each shot. Each post was accompanied by the hashtag #whysocialmediaisruiningyourlife. This quickly grabbed the attention of her followers and the media, leading Katherine to reassess her sharing habits as a whole and write her Amazon bestseller ‘Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life’.

I was inspired by how honest Katherine was about embarking on the process of removing the falsities from her social media profiles. In a society where the influencer marketing industry is valued at $1.07 billion, which is set to rise to $2.38 billion this year, Katherine’s decision could not have been an easy one. Exposing the industry in a negative light could easily have lost her some major future endorsements, but she was willing to take that risk in order to reveal the truth.

Next time I’m aimlessly zombie scrolling through my Instagram feed, comparing myself to people I’ve even never met and are never likely to meet, I will remind myself of Katherine’s concluding statement: “don’t let those 1% images affect how you feel about your life.”

You can order Katherine’s book ‘Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life’ here.

Laura – Top pick: Andrew Szydko: ‘Chemistry for all’

It’s been really challenging for me to choose my favourite talk from a plethora of quality and variety that was on offer at this year’s TEDxManchester.

I loved the new insights I gained from Rory Sutherland’s (@rorysutherland) enlightening and entertaining talk focused on the principle of “wrongitude”. From what I could gather it’s about objectively looking at what everyone is doing wrong, then not doing that. He drew upon many compelling examples of how this works even from the natural world where bees follow an 80-20 rule; 80% go where they know food is and the other 20% do something completely different ensuring new supplies of food for the future.

I was also really impressed by Dr Sarah Carlick (@SarahCarlick), who spoke passionately about The Children’s Safeguarding Digital Cooperative Design Centre. Their work is concerned with designing new technology solutions, with the help of children and ultimately for children, that integrate multiple safeguarding services to keep children safe.

But I have to say my overall favourite would be Andrew Szydko’s chemistry performance, that was more akin to a magic show than anything else. It was expertly orchestrated and performed. The audience hung on his every word and action as there were colour changing potions, and all manner of loud bangs, plumes of gas and explosions. I have a background in science and love to geek out on the details, so I particularly admired how entertaining he made a subject whilst not sacrificing the scientific explanations of what he was doing.

The show ended with a huge and well-timed bang that shook the theatre. It was caused by a liquid nitrogen filled drinks bottle that had been placed in a bin 5 minutes earlier and as the frozen gas boiled at room temperature, it exploded in time to end his show and we truly felt his statement of “chemistry for all!” As we left our seats there was a tangible feeling of giddy excitement that filled the air. For 20 minutes we’d all been transported back to a childlike appreciation of what magic and wonder can be found in the universe. If only all Chemistry teachers were like Andrew.

Follow TEDxMachester on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

Photo Credit: Tynesight Photographic Services

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