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Kevin Grems for TEDxOkoboji's 1st Annual Conference

November 18th, 2019 | Meet the Speakers

Kevin Grems

"Artificial Unintelligence "

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // 22 November 2019

Memorizing is not my forte.  It’s not a great way to teach a class, but probably is the best way to deliver a TEDx Talk.  I’ve heard horror stories from my fellow speakers about how an unplanned, unmapped out talk can “get off the rails” and never get back on.  Determined to not have that become my fate, I’ve been feverishly rehearsing, one paragraph at a time until the whole thing has been committed to memory.  I’ve found that stories or “big ideas” are generally easier to keep track of in my head as opposed to smaller, shorter anecdotes.

In the software business, testing is huge.  Getting your product in front of your target users ensures that you aren’t assuming anything about them that you shouldn’t and that your program works on the intended hardware.  It turns out that the same is true for delivering a TEDxTalk. Testing out the talk in front of a few sample “users” has proven to be quite helpful. The nature of my talk involves some technical jargon so boiling down the fancy-sounding terms and making them approachable to the masses has been incredibly time consuming.  As I discuss in the talk, people tend to be naturally fearful of technology… especially when new, confusing terms are involved.

As the big day approaches, I’m thinking back and reflecting on how challenging it can be to get an idea across using something like a TEDxTalk.  Each word must be carefully chosen and the sentence structure strategically crafted in such a way to deliver maximum impact in a minimal amount of time.  With great risk comes great reward though. The risk is looking like a fool… wondering if people are actually going to get anything useful from the talk.  The reward is a life-changing opportunity to permanently impact the lives of those in the audience and beyond.

Kevin Grems for TEDxOkoboji's 1st Annual Conference

September 4th, 2019 | Meet the Speakers

Kevin Grems

"Artificial Unintelligence "

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // 22 November 2019

Two weeks ago, the reality of the first annual TEDxOkoboji event set in.  The process went from digital communication to a physical meeting at The Waterfront in Arnolds Park.  There the speakers and event organizers met and mingled. We got to know each other’s passions and our reasons for being there.  Everyone was a little unsure of what was about to unfold.   

It was said at our first meeting that this TEDx talk would be unlike any other talk or presentation that we have ever given before.  I quickly realized this, and how unique it would be for each individual around the table that night.

For me, giving a TEDx talk means a fundamental shift in how I share information with people.  Generally, for about 5 hours each day, I teach college students how to write computer programs.  I show them how to build video games, websites, and business software. My classes are 90 – 120 minutes in length and each student is positioned in front of a computer to work along with me through the lectures and demonstrations.  The format is loose and informal. Theoretically, my students have a natural inclination toward the subject matter being presented.

While that format is useful for teaching college classes, it isn’t for TEDx.  There are no hands-on demonstrations to fill the time and shift the focus away from the presenter.  No degrees or certificates are awarded for successfully sitting through my talk… but maybe there should be!  Instead, there is a room full of diverse people from all sorts of backgrounds, hungry to hear about ideas worth spreading.

I am beyond thrilled to have been selected for the first annual TEDxOkoboji event.  In the world of video games, we talk about the “risk vs. reward” balancing act. The greater the risk posed to the player, the greater the reward should be.  I generally apply this axiom to the real world as well. The risks of giving a TEDx talk are great: what if I choke? What if nobody really cares about my idea?  What if I’m just terrible at communicating? These are valid concerns to be sure, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. Giving “the talk of your lifetime” is about as rewarding as it gets!

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // Friday November 22, 2019