One of the most intense talks we’ve ever had in our six years curating TEDxBoston was Rainey Tisdale‘s talk this year about curating an exhibit at the Boston Public Library drawn from the items that people left behind at the site of the Marathon bombings. Rainey did an outstanding job of not only describing her work but sharing what it felt like living and making decisions among the artifacts. She showed what those offerings meant to the community — and what it all meant to her personally. 

When coaching TED and TEDx speakers, we often emphasize that the most successful TED Talks aren’t merely presentations. They’re acts of sharing that combine authority and vulnerability. Rainey nailed both parts: authority in that she knew her material cold and was the only person in the world who could tell that story, and vulnerability in that she really lets the audience in and feel what it was like to live through such an emotionally charged assignment. The slides, built by our Annie White, are beautiful, but in an understated, supportive way. They illuminate Rainey’s story but they never get in the way of it. 

Watch this. 

(Thanks to our friend Curt Nickisch for introducing us to Rainey.)