I had the pleasure yesterday of attending the initial TEDxTO that featured 13 speakers. All in all, it was an enlightening, insightful and educational afternoon. It was well-organized, reflecting the six months of planning that Paul Crowe, Tyler Turnbull and their team had invested.

By far, the best presentations were made by Gavin Sheppard and Peter MacLeod.

Sheppard, co-founder and executive director of The Remixx Project, was the star of the show with a talk about how to make education and learning more engaging and interesting. He was insightful, passionate and enthusiastic in talking about a world that most of us have never experienced – truly inspirational.

MacLeod, the last speaker of the day, delivered an enthusiasm talk about Canada, the 1967 centennial and what Canada could and should look like in 2017 when the country celebrates its 150th birthday. As impressive was his strong voice and commanding delivery.

I was also impressed by my friend, Mathew Ingram, who talked about the new media can save the old media. It’s story that gets a lot of attention but Mathew provided some good personal insight about what’s happening. Some comments that caught my attention were that “Old media doesn’t have to be save; it needs to evolve”, and that “Twitter is an element of journalism”.

Another interesting talk was given by Michael McClelland, a principal with ERA Architects, who talked about how Toronto’s large population of high-rise apartments can be revitalized and re-energized. An interesting factoid is Toronto’s has the second-most high-rise apartments in North America, behind New York City.

Richard St. John gave a funny and insightful talk about “What’s Next”. If you get a chance, check out his book “Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich”. I’m looking forward to reading his next book on why we lose things.

Another thing that impressed me was how easy all the speakers made it look on stage. They were relaxed, comfortable and engaging. Don Tapscott, an experienced speaker, is a great story teller who offers lessons for any of us looking to improve our public speaking.

In summary, the things I liked about TEDxTO: an interesting diversity of speakers talking about different things, the food, the venue (Theatre Passe Muraille) and how well the event was organized.

The only thing that was missing was Wi-Fi, which should be standard for any conference or event. In an ideal world, the theatre would have opened up its Wi-Fi network for the day as long as people agreed not to abuse it.

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