Am still reeling from the TEDache which comes from running a TEDx event, although, still smiling.
Everything we tried this year worked, even though we had no cash sponsor and had to cut the livestream option plus be very creative with the budget, all whilst going from a 1,000 speaker venue to 200 (as currently St James Theatre is undergoing earthquake restrengthening).
treasure hunts: with the first clue being handed out by our MC’s, this interaction provided an opportunity to gamify building connections between delegates. There were five clues that enabled the team participating to journey through the space, experiencing ‘chance’ encounters with TEDxWellington team members and the installations around the venue;
photobooth: creating digital takeaways to share through social channels;
head / neck / shoulders massage: because sometimes you need help in getting those ideas into your brain plus to shake off the emotions a little from the challenging talks of the previous session;
speaker stations: allocated spots for delegates to both find and connect with the speakers to dive deeper into their shared idea;
toilet interactions (yes that’s right): on the back of the cubicle doors we had a matrix of the speakers with an opportunity to mark how the talk made them feel.
silent disco: again utilising the colours related to the wristbands so that participants were grooving to tunes by ‘chance’.
The lessons learned from previous years were hard learned but oh so precious:
keep the leadership team small
outline (via ‘job descriptions’) the specific expectations for each role plus interview for these key positions
highlight this is not volunteering but actioneering (professionalism and quality is key).
Again, none of the above would’ve been possible without a dedicated group of humans (volunteers, leadership team, speakers alike plus our partners), devouting their free time / products for nothing (or a reduced rate) but feeding on the hope generator that is TEDx:
A few weeks ago I had to share with the TEDxWellington leadership team that I needed to take a break. A venue had already booked for the 2018 event and we were days away from announcing. It was a tough but right decision to make.
For a little over 6 years I’ve been the licensee / creative producer for 5 main TEDx events here in Wellington, plus the two livestream TEDxWomen events and also 8 Salon evening events (which keep the community engaged in between the main ones plus celebrate the success of our previous speaker / performers). Every event has been sold out and all finances are run through the xWellington Charity (which was set up with myself and fellow trustees Helen and Hannah).
needing to pay the rent—as you can imagine producing events at that scale is a full time job in itself. Under the TEDx rules (see General > Funds) no TEDx and its organisers are allowed to make money as it’s a voluntary venture only. Very much agree and champion this, although, at the moment there are other things which need to take priority (like paying the rent sustainably);
reciprocal energies—on occasions we’ve literally had to expend so much energy just to get access to certain venues or to available dates that it impacted on other aspects of our endeavours. We were hoping for a growing support from certain sections of the community based on the demonstrative success achieved rather than diminishing assistance. Obviously, big learning opportunities for doing things differently to get different results, and another reason to take a break to reflect on future strategies;
continued impact momentum—with any growth you certainly don’t want to retract and the 2018 plans, due to some odd factors, meant we were left looking at significantly reducing the event size (which would have a massive negative effect on other areas like sponsor / partner agreements). As a capital city event we were hoping to continue the legacy building and I’m certainly not interested in leading something that is less.
Special thanks to the leadership team who have been so courteous in supporting my decision as it came so late in the day.
After a few months sights will be realigned for the 2019/2020 events and a slow run up will begin with new ideas / approaches to hopefully get to that desired different outcome.
Efforts will be made to gain support for a sustainable TEDx in the nations capital, a cornerstone in the calendar which uniquely amplifies the regions talent through the talks / performances / global platform, continue to build the social capital via the amazing community, plus proceeds to provides opportunities for the organisers to craft experiences that develop our city’s reputation as forward thinkers and audacious doers (and all the while developed / delivered by volunteers).
*financial support was received from a TEDxWellington sponsor for the first TEDActive to cover flight costs plus contributions from the charity towards attendance / accommodation costs also.
Was wonderful to celebrate also the voice and efforts of my collaborator and co-organiser of 2016 and current 2017 event, Hannah Wignall. Would also like to shine the light on the other actioneers in the TEDxWellington team who all give their time voluntarily to ensure the capital city and its community gets a fantastic event.
Thank you Mark for throwing your time and energy behind curating the voices and in effect the passion which makes this global event series such a success.
Today we announced the theme / date / call for speakers & performers for this years TEDxWellington.
This will be my fourth as lead producer of a TEDx event (not counting TEDxWellingtonWomen which I’m the license holder for although only mentoring the team there). Each previous event has sold out and built on the success of the previous one in terms of quality, scale plus experiential design.
The TEDx event format has a great deal of rules governing it’s production. This, quite rightly, ensures continuity of brand quality and assures the ethos remains intact (that of, ‘ideas worth sharing’).
“When I have something to work against, it liberates my imagination”
This year, with TEDxWellington, we’re trying something which has never been done before (to our knowledge): we’re not sharing the most important parts of the event. That being the:
speakers / performers
exact number of tickets
programme for the day
breakout session details
It’s an experiment. A journey. An attempt to explore the ‘what if’ which was thrown out to the team who then made it better and gave it back. To bank in some of the trust from the previous years events and believe in the adventurous side of our community.
Here’s to trying something daring!
UPDATE (27.5.15): Here’s some stats from the first 24hours after our announcement:
I’m currently sat in my Whistler hotel room even though the party goes on with groups of tremendous souls from all corners of the globe still hungry to connect.
Alas, I’m all talked out after six days of immense conversations, nearly 100 TED talks plus a variety of moments which truly remind you of the spectrum of experiences this world has to offer.
I feel stretched.
Full of compassion.
Ready to bounce!
For me, the themes taken away included these ideas of:
stretching—reaching beyond your grasp and changing your mind / body / habitat as an attempt to find new solutions or better questions;
compassion—embracing and empathising with suffering as a means of connection to discover new perspectives;
rebounding—the act of trying again or even using the negative as a reframing exercise to grow or carve out new paths.
Events like these are dangerous if you’re not ready to change (or commit). No matter what your expectations are, in the giving of yourself to the experience you lose something: some light stuff (like sleep and the yearning of solitude) although also the dark (as the stories curated and the organic ones shared with your fellow participants fuel the yearning to be more).
The aim now is to digest, deconstruct plus apply the learning (especially from the other TEDx organisers in attendance—there were 350 of them) to the future TEDxWellington events, and selfishly, my journey.
TEDActive is home to the curious souls and brave doers—a six day cacophony of delight and wonder.
A rich global citizenry of awesomeness and actioneers; gathered around a TED-orbit to collide magnificently in a blossom of conversations / intentions / hopes / purposes etc
Personally, hugs and listening were the currency of the week, and by the end, I felt ‘stretched’ by the experience in a way that I’ll never return to the original state.
Thank you TED and all the people who attended / shared / provoked / talked / listened / drank / sang / danced / signed / smiled / questioned / laughed / cried / hugged / high-fived / hid / exalted / winked / gave / took etc.
Here’s a sprinkling of some choice-quotes from the many talks which struck a chord for some reason or another: