Cape Elizabeth teacher to host local TED Talks screening

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Hearing the right word at the right time can be life- changing.

That’s the idea behind the iconic and inspirational TED Talks, whose slogan is “ideas worth spreading.” TED Talks — Technology, Education, Design — can be both watched online and heard on public radio.

And this year, at locations in South Portland and Brunswick, the first two days of the annual TED Conference can be watched as they happen.

“The Future You” is this year’s theme. The conference on April 24 and 25 will be broadcast live 8-10 p.m. at Cinemagic Grand at Clark’s Pond in South Portland and Regal Brunswick 10 on Gurnet Road. The conference runs from April 24 to 28.

Betsy Nilsen, who chairs the Cape Elizabeth High School‘s Arts and Technology Department, knows first hand how TED Talks conferences work. She coordinates the high school’s TEDxYouth group and will host the South Portland shows.

Tickets cost $18.75, which Nilsen said may sound like a lot to pay for a movie, but attendees will not be watching a movie. Nor will they be watching a video. Viewers will watch and listen to the conference as it unfolds from the TED stage in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Featured presenters this year include professional tennis player Serena Williams, Tesla car company founder Elon Musk, and business podcaster Tim Ferriss. A surprise guest presenter on April 25 will make his or her presence known at the moment the person appears on stage.

The talks are considered family friendly. Students, especially 11th- and 12th-graders, may benefit from hearing how other people overcame struggles and challenges to reach a personal goal, Nilsen said.

To be a TED Talks organizer, Nilsen earlier traveled to Vancouver. It was an expensive trip, aided through the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation. Nilsen wrote a grant proposal to help finance her trip.

Travel to Canada’s west coast was necessary because that’s one of two offices of TED Talks; New York City is the other. Richard Saul Wurman launched the non-partisan TED Talks in February 1984, according to the website

At CEHS, forums modeling TED Talks have been held where students and alumni have listened to one another speak about the issues of dyslexia, depression and more.

“We’ve had students come and share a part of their lives,” Nilsen said.

“For young people to hear it from other young people,” it really has impacted lives, she said. — the small “x” represents an independently organized event — formed in 2010 “as a world-class platform to celebrate innovation and creativity in Maine.

In the same spirit as the state motto, TEDxDirigo leads the way with ideas from Maine’s brightest innovators and changemakers,” its website states. “Our goal is for TEDxDirigo to be a catalyst for positive change in the state and world, where new ideas are supported for the greater good of all.”

Volunteers in Maine run the group.

Whether locally or part of the global conversation, lessons can be learned from a TED Talk.

“There’s a wealth of information, depending on how deep you want to go,” Nilsen said.

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.

Amit Sood and Cyril Diagne speak at “TED2016-Dream” in 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Center in Canada.