TEDx Luxembourg returns on 11 November for a packed edition of fascinating talks and performances around the theme of breaking barriers. Founder Dirk Daenen talks about the ideas worth spreading, among them the importance of public speaking.
Most of us have been there: you step up on the podium, hands are shaking, mouth dry and that well-rehearsed speech disappears along with your confidence.
The common fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia can be overcome with a little help, reckons TEDx Luxembourg co-founder Dirk Daenen. The Belgian national is on a mission to help, especially young people in Luxembourg high schools tame their fears. And with good reason.
“Public speaking has a knock on effect on self efficacy in adulthood and it helps to avoid the fear of public speaking as an adult,” Daenen explains.
Daenen speaks from experience. He was an introverted programmer who previously worked as an IT consultant, before an MBA course brought him out of his shell. The expert continued to pursue communication studies, leading to a five-year stint as a university lecturer.
“I think that the single best thing you can do to help your life, your career, to help anything is to properly understand how to communicate. And I think everything’s kind of stemmed from that,” he says.
As part of this mission, for the past two years, Daenen has been working with teachers and students from Luxembourg high schools. He teaches a method to reduce and eventually eliminate the fear of public speaking in youth, enabling them to enter adulthood and their careers with the confidence to speak in public.
Daenen and his team of eight officers at TEDx Luxembourg created an education-themed talk, TEDxLuxembourgCityED, sponsored by the Luxembourg education ministry, bringing teachers, students, and other stakeholders on stage to spread their Ideas on issues affecting education locally and globally. At the same time, he runs an idea competition in schools in which students are invited to submit an idea worth spreading. The best students will be selected to give a TEDTalk, which will be uploaded to the official TEDx global channels with millions of subscribers. “Next year, we’re going to do that in languages other than English, including Luxembourgish,” Daenen says.
But before then, Daenen’s team will deliver their last event of the year: TEDx Luxembourg City. “Our first mission as an entity is to show the world the best ideas that are worth spreading. And the second goal is to bring interesting ideas to Luxembourg.”
This edition will welcome nine speakers and performers, among them familiar names like Luxembourg chef Léa Linster, the only woman to have won the prestigious Bocuse d’Or prize, who will do an onstage cookery demonstration.
Özgü Gümüstekin, from the Luxembourg Institute of Health will talk about genetically editing your luck. “There’s a very famous TED Talk about hacking your luck. And so she’s taking that a step further and talking about biologically genetically editing your luck, which I think is really really interesting,” says Daenen.
Folk musician and teacher Martina Menichetti of Authentica will give a performance and will talk about the anatomy of the song. Marisha Naz of Amazon, will tackle the thorny topic of veganism in relation to the climate crisis. “What I love about her talk is she’s approaching it from a very scientific perspective, looking at the statistics related to the causes of climate change and showing where we can make a difference,” says Daenen.
Matthieu Bracchetti, founder of VR/AR startup Virtual Rangers, will talk about the future of the metaverse and VR. He will be followed by Canadian national hockey league performance coach and founder and director for Performance By Design Emile Studham, who will talk about the parallels between performance coaching and management. Koen Maris, a partner at PwC will talk about the cyber security implications of the metaverse. K+A, a Bourglinster-based hip hop and break dance artists’ community, will give a performance. “Breakdancing is going to be an Olympic sport in 2024. Unfortunately, Luxembourg doesn’t have a team so I found the next best thing,” says Daenen. The last speaker, Jonathan Prince, co-founder of Finologee and Digicash, will talk about digital currencies.