I’m sure you’ve all heard of TED talks—but if not, here goes. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today TED covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.
TEDx London events are organised independently and the leadership team is made up of a diverse group of curious individuals who work to create experiences inspired by TED and the city we all love. Maryam Pasha is the London director and curator and is driven by passion and curiosity with a mission to encourage dialogue and engagement, create inclusive spaces, and foster debate and discussion that continues long after the events.
I first attended TedX London summer 2018 and fell in love with the whole concept as well as many of the inspirational speakers, some of whom have gone on to appear on our podcast. It wasn’t easy getting hold of Maryam due to her hectic schedule, but our chat was really a wonderful insight into why she considers Ted X such an important platform for ideas to be shared in London, and what it takes to curate and train guest to take to the stage and speak to an audience of over 2000 people.
“I had been organizing events for so long – even since I was in high school.”[9:30]
Maryam got started working on TedX as a fan and got to see a stream of the Ted Women conference—and she thought to herself, this is amazing. She asked the organizers about it and found that anyone can apply to run a TedX event. Her history with planning events instantly qualified her—so she went to her boss at a small charity and asked for time to work on TedX. And he got on board after a month and she started in 2011—on stage set made from things in her own apartment with 8 staffers. By 2017 they were running a 1,000 audience member event with over 20 staffers.
“It’s hard to say this with any humility – but people say it’s the best event they’ve ever spoken at”[22:10]
Maryam and her fellow Tedx team spend a lot of time researching speakers. They look for someone with an idea worth spreading, as per the event’s tagline. They help their speakers focus on one idea, prepping them on their talk and parsing that idea down to a focused narrative that the audience can cling to. The guests don’t get paid and Tedx itself is a non-profit organization—still the speakers get so much from the experience, as does the audience in listening to them. If they bring a speaker on its because they wholly believe in them, and part of Maryam’s job is eroding the imposter syndrome so many of us face.
Maryam Pasha has her own consulting company now where she helps and coaches on how to curate, pitch, and go through all the necessary steps to spread you own ideas to audiences around the globe. Events like TedX won’t be going away anytime soon – as narratives and stories are what have brought people together for thousands of years, and Maryam is more than ready to tackle the challenges to getting these stories to your eyes and ears in the years to come.