Recycle Runway Blog

Presenting my “world-changing idea” at TED Published: 11.07.2011 at 5:13 pm by Nancy Judd

In September I gave the most challenging and rewarding talk of my career at TEDxABQ!

If you do not know about TED, you need to! The idea behind these international talks is that the power of ideas can change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a nonprofit organization devoted to: Ideas Worth Spreading. Started 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those “world-changing ideas” through two annual conferences in California and Edinburgh, Scotland. The world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to speak for up to 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at I highly suggest you visit this site, and I can guarantee that as soon as you watch a couple of videos, you will be hooked!

The 2011 TEDxABQ Audience

I made my presentation at a TEDx event, which is an international program consisting of local, self-organized conferences. The Albuquerque event that I spoke at, now two years old, was attended by 700 people and live-simulcast to thousands more around the world.

I have been listening to TED talks for many years during the hundreds of hours I have spent working on my garments and many times I thought to myself: “I would love to be a TED speaker!” Then, last spring I received an e-mail from a TEDxABQ organizer, Stacy Snyder, encouraging me to submit an application to speak at the next Albuquerque conference. I was thrilled!!

Eighty applications were submitted and I was honored to be one of the 16 speakers chosen! Though I have given hundreds of talks during my career to audiences ranging from school children to docents in museums, this would be my largest audience, and the most professional event I had participated in. As you will see in the video, it gave me the opportunity to talk about why I create couture fashion sculptures from trash, the message I hope to impart, and the chance to issue a TED-type challenge.

From the very beginning the TEDxABQ team started working with us to prepare our talk. Carrie Williar, the Communications Director, sent us numerous examples of GREAT talks, including TED talks on how to give a TED talk! I also enjoyed the TED Commandments which includes:

  • Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick;
  • Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before; and
  • Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.

As soon as we had a general outline of our presentation, we met with Tim Nisly, the Curator and Host of TEDxABQ, and Gregory Lay a wonderful speaking coach. They gave me very helpful advice on the content of my talk and my on-stage presence. Often a couple of speakers would arrive at the same time for the practice sessions. It was really fun meeting the other speakers and watching their talks’ progress. And as I listened to the other participants, I couldn’t help but feel so honored to be presenting alongside such talented, smart and accomplished people. I learned a lot from the advice given to them too. The primary recommendation was: practice, practice, practice! So over the next 3 months I went over my talk hundreds of times– when I could not sleep at night, sitting in the airplane, and even in the shower. And I delivered it to as many people as possible–including my hairdresser and the woman sitting in the salon chair across from me.

The Caution Tape Dress

As part of my presentation, I displayed a dress in progress called Eco-Flamenco in the lobby. The dress is made from parachute scraps, and covered in thousands of ruffles made from cereal boxes painted with reclaimed paint and cut into circles. During my talk, I invited the audience to contribute to the garment by writing an eco-pledge– something they could do to help the environment– on a ruffle. I was very thankful to my partner, Nicole Morris, and long-time friend, Amy Pilling, for staffing my display during the breaks.

In the video (and this picture), you will see that I made a special dress for my talk. I felt like it was important that I wear something that reflected my message, so I fashioned a little dress for myself from re-claimed caution tape. When I arrived at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, a wonderful group of volunteers helped me unload all my bundles and in about three hours they had cut over 700 circles out of painted cereal boxes for the Eco-Flamenco project!

The Church of Beethoven

As I stood back stage waiting to speak, I felt really prepared for my talk. But I was still daunted by the idea that I was about to deliver my “world-changing idea” that would be seen by tens of thousands of people across the globe for years to come. Luckily, I was scheduled right after the Church of Beethoven presentation, which included two beautiful sections of live music. So as I waited, I closed my eyes, listened to the music…allowing myself to sink into it…and felt how lucky I was be having this exceptional experience!

I hope you enjoy my talk.

Photos by Dawn Allynn.


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