3 questions to Michel Lévy-Provençal from TEDxParis: “First of all, a talk is about telling a story

As the head of TEDxParis since 2009, Michel Lévy-Provençal has become a household name in the motivational speaking world. That’s the reason why we wanted to pick his brain and talk about how to best organize our ideas.

Orange Pop: How did this project of having TED conferences in Paris come about?

Michel Lévy-Provençal: TEDxParis was born in 2009. A few friends and me had really wanted to have people come up on stage and tell us about their crazy ideas. So I reached out to TED saying that I thought it was unfortunate that we didn’t get this type of conferences in France. By chance, around the same time, TED was launching the TEDx program, a licence which allows people to organize talks all over the round. They asked me to be the first one to hold a talk in Europe, which I did, in Paris. We’ve become the very first “TEDx” conference and the biggest community too.

O. Pop: What are some the difficulties attached to those kind of events?

M.L.P.: In 2009, the format wasn’t as popular; we had to guide our speakers so that they could be impactful on stage. I’ve reached out to people from the theater and self-help industries so that we could come up with a certain methodology that we still use with our speakers. First of all, you must know that a good talk is never improvised. You have to work on it. The structure, the message you want to convey, the different anecdotes you rely on to tell your story. A talk is mainly about telling a story. Also you must rehearse. You can’t go on stage unless you’ve rehearsed at least 3 times. Your introduction has to be super-catchy, unexpected and enticing to grab the audience’s attention. It is the same as far as the conclusion.

O. Pop: How do you think conferences, ideas and TED’s manner of addressing them can change the world?

M.L.P.: TED is all about giving exposure to ideas that are worth sharing. Obviously talking about an ideo on stage for 15 minutes isn’t enough to change the world. Still, it is a hook, a catalyzer, a spark. People in the audience could be like “Wow! Maybe I should try too”,and then be inspired to go further. Based on some positive feedback we’ve come up with a new format called L’Echappée Volée”. Instead of an afternoon, it lasts for 3 days. There are talks and happenings that allow the attendees to experiment the projects and innovations presented on stage. Furthermore, it’s a great way to connect with the attendees, introduce them to those who are trying to make a change and motivate them to start to do so on their own. The next edition of L’Echapée Volée will be on May 12th – 14th.

Michel Lévy-Provençal © mikiane.com