"To the powerful, to anyone who hides behind a brand, be warned: We know what fonts you use. We've read your brand guidelines. And if you won't tell the truth, we'll steal your voice and tell it for you." These are the words ATLAS Instructor Danny Rankin ended his TEDxMileHigh talk with on Nov. 16, 2019, and they were met with enthusiastic and prolonged applause.
That won't be a surprise to anyone who has taken one of Rankin's classes. He was speaking to 5,000 instead of 50, which surely makes a difference, but he took it in stride. "It was a really positive experience," he says. "They did a very thorough job of coaching us. By the time you walk out on the stage, you know every syllable you are going to say. The whole process taught me a lot about verbal communication and keeping the attention of a large group."
What did he speak about? In a world where most of us see between 4,000–10,000 increasingly intrusive ads a day, Rankin offers an antidote—a strategy for turning the tables, heightening awareness and having some fun at the same time. Our advice: Watch the video—it's well worth the 15 minutes!
Along with Rankin's invitation to speak at the TEDxMileHigh Imagine event in November, ATLAS exhibited a collection of projects in the exhibition hall outside the auditorium. The most popular project was Peter Gyory and Clement Zheng's fast-paced Hot Swap: All Hands On Deck, an award-winning, collaborative video game involving multiple, interchangeable, shared controllers. The team also brought Mechamagnets, among other projects, and curious visitors kept student volunteers, faculty and staff talking for hours.
Rankin is the third member of the ATLAS faculty to speak at TEDxMileHigh in as many years. Instructor Arielle Hein paved the way in 2017, with "A New Way to Measure Time," and Assistant Professor Carson Bruns followed up in 2018 with "Could a Tattoo Help You Stay Healthy" (which has now clocked more than 620,000 views). We have no idea who will be next, but when we find out, we'll be sure to publicize it. (Now watch the video!)