TEDxAarhus – Bélen Jiménez-Mena

In Curating by Mark Sylvester


The Hack: Don't look for polished speakers, look for the idea.

Belen Jimenez-Mena is the co-head of curators for TEDxAarhus. Her passion for public speaking began in University when a mentor introduced her to TED talks. She loves listening to the personal stories that are shared. As a scientist, she believes that their public speaking skills could be improved, and has a passion for helping them tell their stories.

She says, "Aarhus is a very exciting city." Its location lends itself towards a very cosmopolitan population, with citizens from around the world. The Aarhus TEDx team certainly reflects this geographic diversity. In 2017 it was named the European Capital of Culture.

As a co-curator, she spends most of this episode talking about their process with speakers and helping them to craft a talk that helps them get to the core idea that makes the audience want to care.

Are they truly devoted to doing a Talk?" On assessing a speakers' commitment.Belen Jimenez-Mena, Co-Curator, Speaker Coach

The Lightning Round

  • Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.

    She is a scientist/researchers in Genomics. In 2013, she moved from Madrid to do her Ph.D. work in Denmark. She was introduced to TED talks by a mentor who knew about her passion for public speaking. That led to her wanting to bring TEDx to Aarhus, so with her friend, Andrea Klassen they created their first TEDx in 2015.

  • How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?

    She's a part of the regional TEDx ecosystem in Denmark and connects regularly with these other organizers.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    Because Aarhus is such an international city, it provides them with a good cross-section of speakers and talent for the event. This year, the City has been designated as a 'Captial of Culture,' which is a perfect fit for the City and TEDx.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Curating. This episode dives deep into curation, including her specific tips and tricks. She also explains the coaching process for their speakers, in detail.

  • What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?

    To see how an idea and talk can change so dramatically and be shaped over time.

  • Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?

    For Belen, it's a personal dragon: How to balance her various passions and when to know to ask for help.

  • What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?

    Get new team members each year and be open to their new ideas. Be sure to be very clear about the Missin and Vision of the event with them as you bring them aboard.

  • Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?

    Choosing the final panel of speakers.

  • What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?

    She'd love to go to Africa and Asia, specifically to a TEDx that's held in a small, rural village or town with little technology. Ideally, it would be in the middle of nowhere.

  • The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?

    Don't look for polished speakers, look for the idea.

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