TEDx returns to Youngstown after 2-year hiatus 

By Henry Shorr

TEDx Youngstown is coming back after a two-year hiatus to the Spotlight Theater on March 25. Coordinators Greg Smith, Jaietta Jackson and Adam Earnheardt have been working hard to make sure everything goes smoothly while maintaining COVID-19 safety precautions. 

A TEDx speech is under 18 minutes long and, according to Smith, “needs to be a research-based idea that has made a difference in [the speaker’s] life or the lives of others.”

Jackson, a senior lecturer with the communication department, gave a TEDx talk a couple of years ago on making your own history and is now glad to be able to help impart her knowledge on new speakers.

“I’m working directly with three of the speakers. I take them from an idea and help them to build their actual talk. So yeah, that’s a lot, but I’ve seen my speakers grow and I’ve seen them grow from an idea to a 12-minute talk,” Jackson said. 

Smith was the person who first brought TEDx to Youngstown, and he is excited to be back after 18 months. He knows how much this city has to offer and loves sharing that with speakers who come into town to give their speeches.

“The speakers are always like, ‘You have great food here.’ They don’t expect that, but we do — we have every cuisine you could possibly imagine. They can’t believe how many religions we have here, they can’t believe how many ethnicities we have here — it’s kind of like a [microcosm] of the entire United States,” Smith said. “And we actually get along better than probably a lot of people in the country, you know, we’re all working together. So that blows them away a little.”

The coordinators have done everything possible to make sure this event will go safely during COVID-19. Jackson said part of this process was downsizing the event.

“We’re limiting the audience, so we’re only selling 100 tickets when normally we fill up a whole balcony and everything. We’ve made it a little smaller — we only have six to eight speakers when — before — we had about 15 speakers. It’s just a smaller scale so we can come back and it’s not forgotten,” Jackson said. 

Smith said this is a great opportunity for students and faculty members to learn new information from experts who are just getting their starts in public speaking. 

“COVID has limited our ability to interact tremendously, and this is a great opportunity, again, to get ideas not only from our area but from around the country. And they’re shared right here in Youngstown,” he said.

Jackson is ready to be back in action, stating that this event is a great resource for the city and university.

“I’m just excited — I’m excited it’s back in Youngstown, that we’re back after COVID and we’ve survived, and just really look forward to what’s to come, and hopefully when COVID is over, we can keep growing and get bigger again,” she said.

Tickets to the event are available now at tedxyoungstown.com