Main Conference Interviews and Thank Yous!

The TEDxUniversityofGalsgow team hopes that you enjoyed our recent Main Conference, themed ‘Press Pause To Begin’. Whether you watched on line or from within the university’s grand Hunter Halls, we hope that you were captivated by the stories our incredible speakers told.

However, in this post I want to give you a quick peak behind the scenes at TEDxUniversityofGlasgow’s March 2018 Conference:

… The story begins March 2017, when the team began preparing for this big event. However, blog posts are supposed to be short – so I’ll skip 364 days and get right to the big day, the Main Conference. Most team members’ alarm clocks began ringing or buzzing around 6 a.m. on the 17th of March, 2018. By 7.30 a.m., the team had gathered in Hunter Halls for the classic team display of excitement and anticipation: a hands in cheer and a loud HURRAH!

Moments later each team member took to their stations: arranging cameras, setting up computers, blowing up balloons, posting up signage, carrying 300 stuffed goodie bags from car to coatroom. Hunter Halls was a buzz. But the real buzz began at ten minutes to eight, when the first conference attendee made his way into the main hall.

I had been stationed at the ‘Name Badge Table’. This was a quite self-explanatory table with a gloriously colourful arrangement of markers and pens for attendees to write their name badges. I considered myself quite lucky to have scored this position – I was able to meet and converse with numerous exciting individuals.

Jera Toporis was one of the first women to arrive and write her name badge. A first year Spanish and English Literature student, Toporis’ excitement was almost tangible. “This is going to be so great!” she predicted.

Soon more and more individuals filtered through the hall’s open doors. Jack Hatchman, a fourth year student of Economics and Economic Social History relayed his excitement for finally attending a live TEDxUniversityofGlasgow conference. “I wanted to come to TEDx for a while” he told me. Hatchman explained that he spent most evenings watching TEDx videos. In fact, Hatchman’s words were “I watch TEDx every night.”

Antonia Hoeppel shared a similar delight for the novelty of attending TEDxUniversityofGlasgow live. Hoeppel is a second year University of Glasgow student studying Business and Management. As it was Hoeppel’s first conference, I asked her what she expected to take away from the day. She answered that she intended to “get to know some new faces” and to “learn something new”. Her response echoed in many other voices who also sought to learn something new as a result of the day.

Before we all knew it, most of the morning pastries had been eaten and the teas or coffees had been drank. It was time for the Conference to begin! Soon the talks and performances were underway.  This year’s line-up included:

  • Vicky Brock – Entrepreneur
  • Kevin O’Dell – Professor of Behavioural Genetics
  • Frank Quitely (World-Renowned Comic Book Artist
  • Jessica Argo (3D Sound Designer, installation artist, cellist, lecturer
  • Ndeye Borso Tall – Social Activist
  • Hussein El-Ajouz – Final year Psychology and Business student
  • Corien Staels – Entrepreneur
  • Kay Davidson – Stylist, Fashion Designer


After the first set of talks and performances, Nelli Valkamo, Joonatan Piir, and Noor Sabha – each University of Glasgow students – discussed their experience of the conference with me over lunch. Valkamo told me that she was “really inspired”. This response seemed to encourage nods of agreement from her two friends. Piir and Sabha then told me how this year’s theme, ‘Press Pause To Begin’ echoed in their own lives. Piir spoke about how he found university pace different from high school, emphasizing the hours of independent learning required. Piir described it as a kind of “forced pause” but that he was getting used to it.  Sabha relayed a similar story. In high school, she had to change schools which allowed her to study abroad. She called it a “silver lining, voluntary pause.”

In fact, throughout the day, more and more people began to tell me how the speakers’ stories – and this emphasis on pausing – affected them. Simone Low, a voice-over artist (who had quite the knack of storytelling herself!), recalled how Vicky Brock’s talk “connected with [her].” Low told me that she had been in a “similar position” and then preceded to make me laugh and cringe with an account of her own.

As the day wound down, it was impressive to see the connections people were beginning to make with one another. Individuals who had come in alone now clustered in newly formed friend groups. The hum in Hunter Halls thrummed with a lasting excitement and a feeling of shared sentiment.  One interviewee remarked that the Confrence must be “a place where there can be interesting people. People who make their way to TEDxUnviversityofGlasgow on a Saturday, on Saint Patrick’s Day… well, these people have to be interesting.”

And it’s true! There were so many interesting, inquisitive, amazing people that the TEDxUniversityofGlasgow team met at the Conference. I only regret that I cannot include all of your wonderful observations, insights, and realizations here, in this blog post. Nevertheless, please know that it is you, the audience, the attendees, and the speakers that keep TEDxUniversityofGlasgow going, alive and vibrant. It is thanks to you that such a brilliant platform for sharing ideas can continue. So we want to thank you for sharing a wonderful day with us. We hope to see you next year!


*****In fact, if you feel your passion for TEDxUniversityofGlasgow cannot wait another 356 days (give or take) then why not apply to join the team? Team applications are open here. We hope to hear from you! *****


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