On Saturday 13 May 2017, fourteen speakers take the stage at Folkestone Quarterhouse for a brand new TEDx event. WOW’s editor Emma Dewhurst meets marketing visionary and all-round powerhouse, LIU BATCHELOR, to find out how TEDx Folkestone came about
Towards the end of our interview in the cafe of Folkestone’s Three Hills Sports Park, I take a few quickly posed photographs of my interviewee and the inspiration behind TEDx Folkestone, Liu Batchelor. It is only in posting to this article that I notice the words ‘Folkestone Optimist’ on the flag strung up behind her. Nothing could be more fitting, because Liu Batchelor is one of those priceless people who knows how to take an idea, run with it, and above all, stick with it, no matter where it leads.
A line on her website proclaims, “Nothing excites me more than turning inspiration into action!” and it is clear within a few minutes of meeting her that vision marketing coach Batchelor walks her own talk. She has spent the morning recording another episode of her radio show, The Big Idea, for Academy FM, just one of several forums for turning ideas into reality and she is barely two weeks away from the TEDx event she has made happen for Folkestone, with the help of many committed volunteers and businesses in the local community.
For those who have not yet met the phenomenon, TED is a non-profit organisation started in 1984, created as a platform for the dissemination of ‘Ideas Worth Sharing’ via 18 minute-long talks by some of the most passionate, inspired and cutting edge thinkers, doers and creators in the world. Its offshoot, TED Talks, has created more viral videos than you can shake a stick at, sharing new ideas in the fields of technology, science, culture, art and design, to name but a few.
TEDx is a programme of independently organised events, licensed by the parent organisation, where local communities initiate and stage their own series of talks. Which is where Liu Batchelor comes in.
Folkestone is Batchelor’s hometown, to which she returned last year after a stint working in Margate, with the question ‘What do I want to do now?’ uppermost in her mind. She signed up to the flexible working space and community based at The Workshop on Tontine Street, and found herself wishing that there was more homegrown activity going on.
Following her own coaching formula, which encourages small business owners to understand the ‘Why’ behind what they do, Liu Batchelor asked herself what kind of people she wanted to attract into her working life, and realised that it was the kind of people who stand up and are brave and forward-thinking enough to deliver a TED talk: “People who are passionate, energised and inspired. Or someone who aspires to that,” she says.
She staged a quick meet-up at The Workshop to gauge levels of enthusiasm in the community for a TEDx event in Folkestone and was staggered at the scale of the response. As a result, a committee was formed and a license applied for, which was promptly rejected the first time round by parent TED, who wanted to know from Batchelor ‘Why is your idea different and what’s new about your approach?’
This questioning led to the event’s chosen theme of ‘Pushing the Boundaries’, with its ability to encompass both the broader, global picture and the personal within its speaker talks.
Batchelor also thinks that the TEDx Folkestone team has tried to push the boundaries in their thinking when choosing the speakers for the event, and have encouraged the speakers to do the same in shaping their talks.
“You have an idea like this and we want you to get in the middle of that idea, to the very nugget of that idea,” the speakers have been told.
So who might you see deliver a talk at The Quarterhouse on 13 May, if you are lucky enough to have a ticket for the inaugural TEDx Folkestone? Batchelor tells me that 66 applications were received, which by way of a longlist and then a shortlist were somehow narrowed down to the final rollcall of 14 speakers.
I asked her how on earth these decisions were made?
“The thing that was tricky was that there were a lot of really inspiring stories and yet it was not quite clear what the idea for the talk itself was,” she says. “The most important criteria of all was ‘What’s the idea?’”
The committee’s scrutiny has paid off, with an interesting, eclectic mixture of both experienced and first-time speakers, in a range of fields, from cultural to scientific to financial and beyond. Topics include climate change; the financial empowerment of women; the future of the ad blocker and mindfulness within science, but just what novel approaches the speakers will bring to their subjects remains to be seen. Those without tickets will be glad to learn that all talks will be recorded live on video and available to view on Ted Talks after the event.
“I want my audience to leave feeling inspired!” says Batchelor, when I ask her what she most wants to see happen as a result of TEDx Folkestone. “More than that, I really want people to go and speak to the speakers afterwards and start having conversations about making things happen. I really hope people can say ‘I went to TEDx Folkestone and as a result this and that happened…” she adds.
Inspiration into action is what she is talking about, and what Liu Batchelor’s whole raison d’être appears to be. If the making of TEDx Folkestone is anything to go by, this won’t be the last idea turned into reality by her impressive, energetic vision.
You can find out more about Liu’s work by visiting her website
If you own a small business and would like to work with Liu, visit here
Visit TEDx Folkestone website
Like TEDx Folkestone on Facebook
Follow TEDx Folkestone on Twitter
And if you have never watched a TED talk, start here!