Michel (TED) Talks

The following was written by Terry Dee, Director /Design & Experience at Rival Schools. He posted it to his personal blog at tdee.ca. TED was an exciting event for our whole company and the partners we worked with, and many people inside and outside contributed. Terry did nice job capturing the essence of what went on behind the scenes, and has kindly given permission for us to repost it here. Hope you enjoy it.

Thoughts on my first TED experience and the art of being yourself.

Recently, Rival Schools volunteered time and creative services to help build a TED Talk presentation for our client. Our role was to help with visual assets, but we were privy to the working slide decks and ultimately, the entirety of the presentation. We’ve worked with General Fusion for a few years and have a pretty thorough understanding about their company, their technology (fusion energy!) and their mandate; but that does not make the subject matter entirely easy to communicate. So I had a keen interest in their preparation; how the presentation evolved from the internal and external (TED) feedback and how their founder felt speaking to it.

The founder (and chief scientist) of General Fusion is Dr. Michel Laberge. There is no better person to talk to a general audience about what General Fusion does and what they hope to accomplish, then him. And what was fascinating, was watching Michel on stage, delivering a fantastic presentation and knowing the variations he had practiced beforehand. TED had given overall direction based on experience and General Fusion executives & staff gave feedback from their collective expertise. Yet with all those resources at his disposal, Michel ultimately needed to craft his speech to where he felt the most comfortable. The science was always going to be accurate, but the personality needed to come from a place only he knows.

I often use the terms “honesty” and “authentic” when talking about brand communications. And this is a great example of a company understanding that their brand voice isn’t pre-defined by just a brand guide. That their true authenticity could not be sanitized, or in this case, over-scripted. No, this improbable startup from suburban Vancouver is bold, intelligent and fun(ny)…a reflection of their founder with the grand ideas who embodied it without dilution to his audience.

It was our pleasure to play a small part in helping deliver Michel and General Fusions message to the public. They have huge mountains to climb, but the results would be world changing and they are the type of people and company I’d want behind such a task.


Thanks to:

Michael Delage, Alex Fallon, Paul Sullivan, Nathan Gilliland, Greg Best, David Lam & Malcolm Overend