How do you take an abstract concept like creativity and mold it into a brief but impactful presentation that will leave your audience with concrete actionable steps they can use in their lives and careers? That is the challenge that psychologist and researcher Dan Cooper has set for himself. As an alternate speaker in the 2018 TEDxSanAntonio conference, Dan has had a lot more time—about a year in fact—to ponder how to tackle his challenge than this year’s other speakers.
Having spent years around colleagues at the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI), Dan is no stranger to working with creative people and he understands the challenges that come from occasionally getting “stuck” when reaching for that next great idea.
“I read several research reports related to getting unstuck while trying to solve problems. Since I worked with people at Southwest Research who were always trying to come up with new ideas, these research findings seemed like “ideas worth sharing.”
TED talks, since their inception in 1984, have had creativity as one of their cornerstone objectives, specifically the creativity demonstrated by the many hundreds of speakers who’ve shared their big ideas at the main TED annual conference and the countless TEDx events that take place each year around the world. Does Dan feel at all daunted by the prospect of tackling such a fundamental element of what makes TED special?
“Others could do this just as well, but my work at Southwest Research has made me appreciate the need to share these research findings, and my academic background (Ph.D. in educational psychology) made me enjoy doing the homework.”
What has the experience been like so far working with TEDxSanAntonio coaches and mentors? Any concerns about fitting such an important topic into such a brief time?
“Memorizing is hard for me. Also, making research findings interesting for a general audience will certainly be an interesting challenge. In some ways, it feels like a theatrical performance (has to be memorized – no reading from notes, no Q&A). I have no experience in theater, so I really appreciate the coaching that we get.”
And so Dan is ready to take to the TEDxSanAntonio red dot on November 9th and to share with us his thoughts on how to nurture and make the most of the creativity that we all have locked up somewhere inside.
“TED & TEDx are reviving the art of public speaking. That’s exciting! As for time constraints, they’re just a given. To share my ideas, I have to work with the time I’ve given. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”