LSST Students speak with TEDxLONDON Director

Kunal Chan Mehta

By Kunal Chan Mehta | Article Date: 23 November 2018

All smiles, Jannika Aalto. Photo source: TEDXLONDON 2018, used with permission

JANNIKA AALTO is the OPENx Director for TEDxLondon with a notable background in teaching and many years of experience working in start-ups.

TED – a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short talks – began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers topics from science to business to global issues. Meanwhile, independently run, TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. A dedicated team of optimists, community builders, change makers and creatives organise TEDx.

Image source: TEDXLONDON 2018, used with permission

LSST’s SU and students reach out to Jannika to answers thought-intensive questions about TEDxLondon’s role in inspiring and informing students and an exciting training and audition programme called OpenX.

LSST student interviewers: Renata Carvalho, SU President; Angel Terjek, Y2 Business Foundation Degree student, London campus; Venus Padshah, Fda Business Y2 and Samba N’diaye, Fda Business Y2. Interview coordinators: Ali Jafar Zaidi, Marketing and Admissions Director, LSST, and Kunal Chan Mehta, LSST’s Senior Lecturer and Press Officer.

1. What is your role at Ted?

I am the OPENx director at TEDxLondon – TEDxLondon is one of independently organised TEDx events to create TED like experiences. TEDx “sits” under the TED umbrella as one of their programmes. OPENx is TEDxLondon’s outreach programme, and as an OPENx director my job is to oversee the entire outreach programme from high level strategy to everyday operations.

2. What has brought about the OpenX training and audition programme?

After one of our events a few years ago we asked ourselves the questions “Who’s not on the stage, who are we not giving a voice to in our events?” Young people were one big group, so we wanted to create an outreach and training programme that encourages young people to get involved and brings them to be a part of a societal conversations they are often excluded from.

3. You have an overarching theme of ‘beyond borders’ – what does this mean?

For us, Beyond Borders means a society beyond limitations, boundaries and labels. We want to bring together people from all walks of life (scientists, activists, social entrepreneurs, musicians, artists and many more need) in order to start solving society’s challenges, promote innovation and celebrate our humanity. TEDxLondon supports contagious, resilient ideas worth spreading. We want to live in a society that thinks, listens, creates and speaks beyond borders.

4. What does TEDx look for in a talk? Do we need to be published academics?

Every TEDx event is different, but at TEDxLondon and OPENx especially we’re looking for authenticity and unique, unheard ideas. Speak about something you have experience of (either through your work, research of life) and are passionate about. You definitely don’t have to be a published academic! We do try to focus on ideas worth spreading over motivational talks or pure personal life stories, so think about what the audience would take away from your talk.

5. Do you have any examples of how a shy student made it onto a TED talk?

Yes, many of our speakers from previous years were nervous and not the public speaker type – and I understand the experience especially on the day can be nerve-wracking! One helpful thing to remember is that often the talk is about your idea and message more than it is about you as a person. Our speakers are also really supportive of each other, which helps in preparation as well as on the day. And our speaker training is supportive but rigorous, so our team will make sure you are prepared for the talk! TED knows this too, they’ve even created a playlist on the topic:

6. What is the best way to apply to OpenX?

Download or open the Seenit Capture on your iPhone or Android device. Sign up or log in and allow all popups eg microphone and push notifications.

Enter the Project ID: openx2019

Head to the “Shot list” section and follow the instructions in the app, where you’ll be asked three questions:

  • 1. Tell us a bit about yourself
  • 2. What’s your idea in a nutshell?
  • 3. How did you find out about OPENx?

7. When can we expect a visit from you to LSST?

Very soon I hope.

LSST students, join the debate and comment below: How would you feel about delivering a TED talk?

Want any help with your TED talk proposal or want to become a student interviewer for similar events in the future? Please email for further instructions.

9 thoughts on “LSST Students speak with TEDxLONDON Director”

  1. This is a great idea I’m sharing with my class and also other friend.

    • Profession: student
  2. A very good opportunity and help, definitely interesting and great. Supporting the start-ups it is important.
    Thank you to TEDx, Jannika and to the LSST.

    • Profession: Business student

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