TEDxToronto 2016: That time we took time to stop, think, listen, share and act

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We love TEDxToronto — and not just because we’re its official PR partner. We’re grateful for the opportunity it gives us to get outside of our own work and explore our city’s big ideas. This year’s TEDx focused on symbols and signals and encouraged attendees to Stop, Listen, Think, Share and Act.

So we did. Here are some favourite moments and insights from TEDxToronto 2016:


Alexandria and Darren Austin Hall’s singing bowls performance gave us a moment to pause in our day, soothe our minds and raise our consciousness. Taking a moment to reflect and refocus will often give the space and time to formulate new ideas. Finding ways to pause can improve our ability to listen and learn, to increase awareness, to pay closer attention and to gain new perspectives.

— Claudia Yuen, Senior Designer



How we listen to others is as important as how we articulate our own ideas. Our verbal signals take on different meanings based on the listener’s preconceived notions and experiences. Dr. Mary Donohue, founder and CEO of Donohue Learning, gave a TEDx crash course on communication between the four generations in today’s workplace. She stressed how differences between these generations can be a breaking point when it comes to getting a message across, and how generational communication gaps can be overcome if we understand how each generation has learned to communicate.

I’m a graphic designer, so sending, receiving and translating ideas into images is what I do every day. The final output may be visual, but in order to convey a message effectively I have to see and hear subtle cues from clients and peers. At TEDxToronto, I was reminded that if I want to improve all I have to do is listen.

— Patricia Lacroix, Designer



What resonated with me most from this year’s event was how often we mistake awareness for thought. Awareness gives us direct perception of an issue or situation, it comes from focusing our attention and observing with our senses. Thinking comes when we remove ourselves from the immediacy of the situation. To really think means to dig deeper — challenging assumptions and biases — to uncover what’s below the surface.

Nick Saul, President and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada, helped us see that by talking about how poverty is an issue that many of us “think” about and it’s often tackled by throwing non-perishable food donations at the problem. Nick highlighted the connection between hunger, poverty and well-being and discussed how good food can be a powerful force for greater health, equity and social change. By challenging our assumptions about an issue we think we know well and reframing the way we see the problem, we are able to derive a more impactful, far-reaching solution.

— Zoryana Cherwick, PR Consultant



What I took from this year’s TEDxToronto event is that the conference isn’t as much about the speakers and the talks themselves. It’s also about disseminating ideas so that they can grow and develop. It is through the sharing of ideas that we gain new perspectives, or find flaws in our thoughts, and develop them. It made me think about the work we do here at Pilot: Our goal isn’t simply to generate attention for clients, but rather to have their ideas get integrated in the community, to help them grow, and hope that they help create change in meaningful ways.

— Ben Morrissey, Intern



What impacted me the most this year was the idea that ordinary actions can have extraordinary outcomes and that we’re able to create positive change when we decide to act. This theme was best exemplified by Calvin Rieder and his efforts to end water scarcity. Through his junior and high school years, Calvin focused on developing solutions combining sustainable environmental engineering innovation with social justice to increase access to clean water where it is most acutely needed. He let the simple occurrence of dew forming on the roof of a tent motivate him to invent, solve and act.

As the digital strategist at Pilot, I’m obsessed with metrics and analytics, but TEDxToronto gave me the opportunity to think about these numbers differently. It got me thinking about the potential of online actions. Can they mean more than just numbers on a report? Can they solve problems? My thought is yes, a retweet or click can create awareness, sell more products and even solve world hunger. We all have the power to make change happen when the simplest of online actions are designed to have a significant offline impact. We just need to act.

— Stephanie Gyles, Digital Consultant

*Images courtesy TEDxToronto* 

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