Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to go to my very first TEDx event! If you’re not familiar with TED, they are an organization that gives inspiring and educational talks from speakers around the world. The Nashville chapter held their first HealthNext event, where the talks focused on healthcare issues. At first, I was worried that my lack of knowledge of the healthcare industry would create a huge learning curve; but I ended discovering that impactful storytelling can make any complex topic relatable and easy to understand.

There are two types of storytelling techniques that I saw in almost every speaker’s TED talk. One technique is the personal experience and the second is the shocking data. Each of these works to create tension, conflict and an impactful conclusion. It also helps make the audience aware of major health risks that people face every day, and motivates them to act. This helped me realize that healthcare is, surprisingly, an issue we can all understand.

Impactful Storytelling on Health: TEDxNashville HealthNext Review



The evening began with a ride to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. It was a beautifully perfect venue for an unforgettable night. Vendors were set up along with snacks and drinks. Inside the auditorium, the seating was nearly full on the first level with attendees. As the lights dimmed and the TEDx video counted down to the start of the event, the energy was pulsing.

The host for tonight was Dan Hogan. He kept the energy alive throughout the evening with audience engagement and thoughtful introductions for each speaker. The first half of speakers included Matthew Russell, Kelly McQueen, MD, Dr. Cheryl Whitaker, Dr. Robert Webster, Josh Robbins and Dr. Jennifer Adair. Their topics ranged from artificial intelligence, the need for anesthesia access around the world, how community impacts health, the future of robots in healthcare, HIV awareness, and advocacy for gene therapy. Each of these talks introduced brand new ideas to me and opened my eyes to the various ways to look at healthcare. (I will review each of these talks as the videos are uploaded online.)

After a brief intermission, the second half of the event opened with two young, musical prodigies. Giri and Uma Peters play guitar and banjo, respectively, and have backgrounds in folk and bluegrass. Each song was a story that calls back to the agricultural period of the southeast. At only 12 and 10 years old, these siblings gave an outstanding performance that ended with a standing ovation. The next set of speakers included Gary Gaston, Jens Titze, Dr. Kevin Johnson, Amy Richardson, and Dr. Steffanie Strathdee. These topics included public health through design, sodium storage and a trip to Mars, getting kids involved with healthcare careers, connecting communities through health, and how sewage saved one man’s life.

The last talk in particular was impactful on many levels. The final reveal at the end moved me to tears and have everyone in the room standing up and cheering. This marked the end of the TEDxNashville HealthNext event. The lobby was filled once again with attendees, servers passing out hors d’oeuvres, a DJ playing music and the change to meet many of the speakers from the night.

Overall, I could not think of a better way to experience my first TED event. I was surprised by the detail put into every aspect of the event. The stage had recognizable TED logo across it, the lights were dimmed red to match the branding, and the space was the right fit for the mood and activities. Each speaker taught me a valuable lesson with impactful storytelling, and I walked away inspired to take action on caring for my own health and helping others do the same. If you have yet to experience a TED talk, I highly recommend it!

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