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TEDxToronto transforms local leaders into viral speakers

Sponsored feature: by TEDxToronto


Toronto’s version of the iconic California-grownTED event is celebrating its 10th anniversary on October 26 at Evergreen Brick Works. What TEDxToronto attendees don’t see are the months of preparation leading up to TEDxToronto events. Mainly, the  time speakers spend working with a coach to refine their ideas and gear up for the stage.

“They call them the transformers,” says Danielle Castellino, Public Relations Director of TEDxToronto, referring to the team of coaches that help Toronto’s leading thinkers  deliver the talks that last up to 18 minutes. Every speaker is assigned a coach who helps them polish their message, customizing an approach for every individual speaker’s message.

Jeff Lohnes, Co-Chair of TEDxToronto and leader of the transformers, spoke with NOW to reveal a few tried and true tips his team employs.

Making the process transformative

“I think what happens with speakers is that they gain new perspective on the work they do daily. They haven’t had someone dig from the outside looking in,” Lohnes explained. “It doesn’t matter the subject. If they are a soccer coach, no one’s really said, ‘Let’s spend five months talking about how you coach soccer, what the best practices are, how the world sees soccer coaching and what they can learn from it.’”

Building trust with your audience

The audience’s perception begins with a speaker’s first steps on stage. Exuding a kind, confident and trustworthy demeanor allows the audience to connect with you. TEDxToronto coaches work with speakers on subtle techniques that add value. From facial expressions to outfit choice, each factor plays an important part in maximizing trust. A well-known business person might dress down, sending a message of approachability before they even start talking.

The 20 second rule

Attention spans run short in the digital age, and the first 20 seconds of any TEDxToronto talk are crucial. You want to give value right away. Engage the audience by posing an interesting question or making an unexpected point. People tend to want to speak chronologically, and that’s often not the most interesting or relevant part of their story.

Lohnes puts it into context for TEDxToronto speakers: “You’re about to talk to 1,200 people and take 15 or so minutes of their time. That’s roughly 300 hours of time you’re taking up on stage. How will you be interesting enough in the first 20 seconds to get one person in the audience to agree to go on a 300-hour road trip with you? That’s not even counting the millions of views TEDxToronto talks bring in online.”

Familiarization over memorization

The fear of improper memorization often drums up public-speaking nerves. While preparedness is key, the TEDxToronto team emphasizes familiarization over memorization. By becoming familiar with your story, the more apt you are to stand on stage and deliver it. If you’re deeply familiar with the point you want to make and how you want to make the audience feel, you can always get back on track. No one knows your talk, so if you mess up, don’t let the hysteria set in – find your way back.

Know thyself

There is no turnkey recipe, even with a kick-ass TEDxToronto coach and five months of preparation. It’s important that speakers hone in on both their strengths and their weaknesses.

For many that means managing nerves. “We work with people to think about a chill moment in time before they go out on stage. Mine is literally having tea with my aunt. It’s just a pleasant moment,” said Lohnes of his own ritual. Pre-stage rituals should help you achieve a feeling of balance. Exercise, meditation, a massage and a week of good sleep.

“With more senior speakers, we don’t talk presentation and delivery style as much. But there is still a lot of work to be done,” says Lohnes. “In some cases, no one’s told them where there are areas of improvement in a long time..”

The hours speakers and their TEDxToronto coaches put in must ultimately be for good reason. The simple genius behind these talks is that they use a story to deliver a single worthwhile idea that compels the audience to think differently or take action.

“What’s most exciting is that we’ve been able to sustain a volunteer-led initiative for 10 years. People could spend time in other places but they chose this one because it’s a positive, inspiring place to be,” Lohnes explains. “Individuals have found funding for their ideas. Past speakers have left their jobs to jump into passion projects or new roles with higher impact.”

Every year, TEDxToronto is proud to bring the stories of innovators and industry disruptors from all different backgrounds to the stage. On October 26, 2018, TEDxToronto’s 10th anniversary show will explore the theme of identity. Join in for a full day of engaging conversations with 14 powerful talks and a series of stellar performances.

Factory Theatre is bringing an intercultural experience to Toronto

Sponsored feature: Factory Theatre


There is no doubt that multiculturalism is an essential part of our city and nation’s fabric. With the majority of people living in Toronto identifying as visible minorities, representation of minority communities and stories are imperative to understanding our nation’s history.  

That’s where Factory comes in. Founded almost 50 years ago, Factory brings authentic and new Canadian stories to Canadians. With a vision to establish itself as the national centre of intercultural theatre, Factory set out to create a unique experience for Canadian theatre-goers.

The 2018/19 Factory SeasonCanada at Your Doorstep, began in October. This exciting new season marks the launch of an innovative presentation series called CrossCurrents Canada, which bring playwrights from vibrant theatre companies across Canada to Toronto.

The four shows that make up this inaugural series have been carefully curated by Factory artistic director, Nina Lee Aquino. As the first female artistic director of colour to run a mid-sized theatre company in Canada, Aquino is dedicated to enriching the cultural fabric of the community. She does so by giving the stage to new and diverse artists who represent the voices of our fellow Canadians – or as she likes to put it, to make theatre that looks like the people you see on the TTC.  


This new series demonstrates that Factory Theatre is not just a place for new Toronto theatre, but also a space for showcasing important intercultural and multi-disciplinary work from across the country.

Don’t miss the CrossCurrents Canada Series

The CrossCurrents Canada series starts in November, here is what you can look forward to this coming season:

We Keep Coming Back (November 14 to 25) We Keep Coming Back is a real-life story of a Jewish mother and son who decide to visit their pre-Holocaust familial home in Poland. On their quest to discover their lost history, Michael and Mary find new friends, love, and an unexpectedly vibrant cultural revival. We Keep Coming Back is an intimate and humourous look at how confronting trauma and preconceptions can uncover something beautiful and transformative.

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives (January 29 to February 10, 2019) The Tashme Project chronicles the experiences of the Nisei, second-generation Japanese Canadians. Now in their 70s and 80s, they were children during the Second World War, subjected to Canada’s strict internment laws. The unique memories the Nisei share of their internment and post-war resettlement provides a crucial glimpse into Canada’s shameful wartime past, while offering glimmers of hope for the future.

Bears (February 28 to March 17, 2019) As the prime suspect in a workplace accident, Floyd flees through the Rockies to escape the clutches of the RCMP. On his riveting journey westward to the Pacific, Floyd looks back on his childhood, meets some unlikely companions and undergoes a startling transformation.  A love letter to nature and a critique of the devastating consequences of industrial expansion, the multi award-winning Bears is a wild multi-disciplinary adventure.

Angélique (April 3 to 21, 2019) Based on the true story of Marie Joseph Angélique, an enslaved Black woman who was hanged for setting fire to Montréal in 1734, Lorena Gale’s award-winning 1996 classic draws a line from Canada’s relatively unknown past to our contemporary struggles with racism. Combining historical fact with a thrilling live score and an electrifying script, this musical play gives a vibrant account of Canadian Black history beyond the Underground Railroad.

Thrills, chills and popcorn refills at Cinéfranco 2018

Sponsored feature: presented by Cinéfranco


Toronto’s favorite French language film festival, Cinéfranco, returns to Carlton Cinema from October 5 to 13 for its 21st anniversary. The official line-up includes 19 feature films and nine shorts curated by seasoned programmer Marcelle Lean and her team.

This year’s theme is a play on the psyche: thrillers and detective films take centre stage, while a touch of drama and comedy keeps us above water. A number of films grapple with a mind-bending combination of the genres.

Au Revoir Là-Haut (See You Up There) touches down in 1920s Paris, where an accident in the trenches leaves a man disfigured. Edouard (played by Beats Per Minute star Nahuel Perez Biscayart) uses opium and creates flamboyant masks to hide his disfigured face. With the help of a former fellow soldier (Albert Dupontel), Edouard hatches a get-rich-quick scheme selling war monument designs, and then taking off with the money before building them. What ensues is a sonically-infused adventure with elaborate set-pieces and surreal costume design.

Thriller Petit Paysan (Bloody Milk) offers something darker. At a rural French dairy farm, hard-working Pierre (Hubert Charuel) faces his undoing when a widespread epidemic makes one of his cows sick. Desperate to do whatever it takes, Pierre embarks on an ill-fated path to save the rest of his herd.

Need a little cheering up after that one? Catch up with 1991 director Ricardo Trogi, who will attend the screening of the latest in his autobiographical film trilogy. The movie recounts Ricardo’s (Jean-Carl Boucher) light-hearted quest to find who he believes is the love of his life in Italy. The film is fun, fast-paced, and much like its director, never takes itself too seriously.

A tidy translation does not exist for the suspenseful comedy Le Brio (The Verve). Actor Daniel Auteuil plays controversial university professor Pierre, who gets himself in hot water after chastising law student Neïla (Camélia Jordana). The school’s president catches wind of the situation and steps in, only to task the professor to mentor Neïla for an upcoming speech contest. As Neïla’s speaking skills improve under Pierre’s tutelage, an unlikely friendship unfolds. 

Noël en Boîte (Christmas in a Box) is set closer to home in Northern Ontario. Sophie (Janick Hébert) is a TV star who finds herself in a precarious situation over the holidays when compromising photos of her surface. In an attempt to squash the photos, she offers the photographer (Zachary Amzallag) a quid-pro-quo in the form of an exclusive interview. Forced to face her painful past, the young woman invites the photographer to spend Christmas at her aunt’s house, where they close the deal. Director Jocelyn Forgues will be in attendance for the film’s second-ever screening.

Many feature films at Cinéfranco are making their North American debut, including:

The shorts will all be screened on October 10 at 7 pm. Topics include existential crises, homelessness, transformation, community and the avant-garde. Brought to you in partnership with Ontario Creates, Le Labo and FRIC, this collection of short films is an exhibition of the work of top-talent Canadian film directors.

Opening with sci-fi thriller Origami and closing with comedy 1991, both from Québec, Cinéfranco features a diverse and engaging showcase of films that may otherwise never hit the big screens in Toronto.

For those fluent in French, Cinéfranco offers free film screenings and post-film discussions at the following films:

  • Noces (A Wedding) at the Toronto Reference Library on November 5 at 6 pm 
  • La Vache (One Man And His Cow) at North York Central Library on November 25 at 1 pm
  • Illégal (Illegal) at the Toronto Reference Library on December 3 at 6 pm 

Cinéfranco’s Youth Festival attracts over 8,500 students and teachers from over 100 schools in the Toronto area. The festival provides a playful and educational environment for students to gain exposure to the French language outside of the classroom. The next Youth Festival is set to take place February 19 to March 6, 2019.

The Québec Perspective Festival, held every year over three days in April, is put on in partnership with Quebec Cinema. Local, national and international francophone cinema will be the focus, with many talented actors and directors also making appearances.

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