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So, we mentioned this last week, but we could all use a little refresher after that crazy, snow-filled weekend. We’re doing things just a little differently this year at TEDxRVA. Don’t worry; the format is sacred and the ideas will still be totally worth spreading. The difference is in how we’re putting this whole thing together.

This year, we have set the goal of having more Richmond-nominated speakers than ever. To get there, we’re using a few approaches. First, we’re accepting applications and nominations right here on our fancy new website. Second, we’re hosting not one but two Open Mic Nights!

The first Open Mic Night for TEDxRVA 2016 will be on February 17 at Gallery 5, followed by the final one at Richmond Public Library on February 24. If you haven’t been to one of these before, here’s how it works: 20 speakers will come out for the opportunity to participate in the main event on April 8. Each speaker gets two minutes to talk, and the crowd votes on their favorites. As for who gets to speak at the Open Mic Nights, the slots are first come, first served. If you’re interested, be sure to register online; there will be no onsite registration. Both events are free to attend, but space is limited, so don’t be shy about showing up early.

In the past, we’ve done one Open Mic event per year, except for last year when the event was snowed out. (Ugh, snow! Are we right?) In 2013 and 2014, we held these events at the Hippodrome Theater, catering to a large audience. So for something different, this year will be split up into two more intimate venues to reach and hear the community better.

If you’re not really the public speaking type, you should still attend. You’ll get to help shape this year’s TEDxRVA lineup, and it’s a chance to see some amazing speakers on the small stage before they hit the big one!

Just look at some of the powerful talks that have come out of these events. In 2014, we had three Open Mic speakers join us at the main event: Carmen Jones, Daniel Goldschmidt and Joshua Braunstein. And in 2013, Noah Kim and John Blake were both Open Mic winners.

So come out and help us find RVA’s best Ideas Worth Spreading!

To stay updated on these events and more, be sure to like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; and join the conversation with the hashtag #TEDxRVA.