TEDxFolkestone offers the Kentish version of the global power-talk phenomenon that is TED… death by Powerpoint, this ain’t.


Unless have been living in a non-digital state for the last couple of years, it is likely that at some point you will have come across the world of TED. 

A nonprofit organisation devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”, TED is usually delivered to the masses in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today's leading thinkers and doers. 

Like an injection of inspiration in a world so confused by its own actions, the famous TED Talks videos are posted daily on TED.com featuring the likes of Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Sir Richard Branson, Monica Lewinsky, Philippe Starck, Sal Khan and more.

But far from a constant corporate deluge, the talks can vary from topics such as “the meaning of life”, through to “how to sound smart”, even if you may not be.

The ‘x’ in TEDxFolkestone stands for independently organised local events, conducted under licence and guidelines from TED. In other words, it is an opportunity to showcase amazing local people and ideas to a global audience.

We spoke to curator and licence holder for TEDxFolkestone Liu Batchelor to find out more…

How did it start in Folkestone?

It started as just a crazy idea I mentioned to a colleague, who agreed to help me host an informal meetup event, as a way to run the idea past people in the community to see what they thought of it.  

From just a simple eventbrite listing, we got 150 registering interest, and 50 people turn up on the night!  By the end of the night, we had a team and a plan.

After two attempts, I secured the licence from TED, and within less than a year we had hosted our first event.

How does it work? Do you choose guests speakers from around the UK or can anyone be a part of it?

Everything for TEDxFolkestone is organised and run by a team of local volunteers.  TED provide us with the rules and guidelines, and their platform to host the finished talk video – but everything else is organised independently.

Some TEDx organisers approach speakers directly, but we like to have open applications in order to give everyone, even those who may have limited/no experience of speaking, a chance to speak.  

One of our core values is that it’s not about how good the speaker is, but how good their idea is. It’s wonderful to see the variety of ideas and topics which come in that you never knew existed, and really exciting to think we may discover a hidden gem.

Applications are open to everyone everywhere, however, we do encourage as many speakers from Kent as possible to apply – as its important to ensure the event benefits the local community as much as possible.  

This year, we are also keen to see applications from performances, of any sort!  This can be anything from singers and poets, to performance pieces to interactive and visual arts. This is something we’ve done in the past two years, but this is the first year we’ve done open applications for bespoke or collaborative works, so we’re excited to see what people present. 


What do people talk about? How do they present their talk?

Speakers ideas and topics can be anything – from science to culture to business to global issues.  All talks must be under 18 minutes, and must comply to the TED content guidelines (which can be found on the TED site and the TEDxFolkestone site).

One thing we are really proud of as an event is our speaker development support process.  So once selected, those chosen to speak receive lots of support to both hone their idea and practice their delivery and speaking skills.  

When curating the choice of speakers, the team are looking for a range of different topics within one event – as it’s one of the core values of TED that the event appeals to all, and is not focused on just one sector. This means that attendees get a wonderful insight into ideas and topics they may not have previously been aware of or experienced.  

What format does a TEDx event take? What can people expect if they come along?

We run a full day event – with talks starting around lunchtime and continuing into the early evening – all held at The Quarterhouse in Folkestone.  The day consists of a series of sessions, with lots of time in between to breakout and share ideas with fellow attendees, speakers and the team. It’s a really inspiring day and a great community atmosphere.

The event is ticketed at an affordable price and sold via The Quarterhouse, however capacity is limited – so anyone interested in attending should keep an eye on either the TEDxFolkestone website or the Quarterhouse website for when tickets go on sale.  

How can people apply?

We’ll be opening application in November 2018, with the deadline being mid-January 2019.  Anyone interested in applying should check the website www.TEDxFolkestone.com for exact dates, guidelines and full details.