Boldly planning a mammoth capital experience.
For the past seven years or so I’ve been dedicating my pro-bono time to the TEDxWellington endeavour and last night we announced our public call for speakers and performers.
This is a not-for-profit venture for the wider community organisers by a wonderful bunch of humans volunteering their precious time to enable local stories go global.
The next event will be the biggest of its kind with 2,000 delegates at the award-winning Michael Fowler Centre, held on 8th May 2021.
What a time to be considering such a grand thing, however, with the ‘team of 5 million’ again pulling together to eliminate community transmission of COVID-19 from our shores, we’re leaning into the hope this will sustain through to next year and beyond.
So if you know anyone in or associated with the Wellington-region who has an idea worth spreading, here’s their chance to get considered for the TEDxWellington 2021 stage:
Another two good souls exploring all manner of wonderful topics, ideas, stories, experiences etc.
We curate and collide intrepid talent from the
coolestmost creative little capital in the world (with a few out-of-city friends as well from time-to-time).
Subscribe and catch the first episode via Creative Welly.
Again, this project is totally self-funded and wouldn’t be possible without these amazing collaborators:
Learn more about the background in this ‘Creative Welly Launched | Learning Out Loud‘ post.
ADDENDUM 21.8.19 Here’s a short video from the day of me talking about the above, full reflections here:
The innate goodness of humans.
Last night was the first of five TEDxWellington speaker coaching sessions with these people:
Being surrounded by impressive souls (full bios) was a much needed reminder of the innate brilliance of humans doing superb things (from an initiative to track human rights violations to how to build homes so that the materials can be reused, a programme to teach mindfulness to children to new technology to help diagnose breast health, from ethically built sensors to monitor the health of your home to an ongoing project which cleans our underwater environment, from teaching communities to cook on a budget to an evolving body positive programme for females, from championing the use of menstrual cups for system change to rethinking our criminal justice system).
To feel that warmness of hope and genuine awe seems rare these days in the global gloom which blasts through the news and our other media channels.
Devoting time to remind oneself that the world is not what the media tells you is a must for our mental health. So thank you TEDx for continuing to offer opportunities which lightens the soul.
Back in the TEDx groove!
Ticket registrations are open for this years TEDxWellington event.
As the theme launch video illustrates above, our theme has informed our ticketing approach this year as every one of our previous events have sold out and we receive many communications from folks who missed out. Add to that, TEDxWellington is going from a 1,000 person event down to a 200 as our 2017 venue is still closed for earthquake restrengthening, so, a ‘lottery’ system for the tickets is the fairest approach to take.
We will also extend the theme into the interactions on the day.
This year, 75% of our speaker applicants were female which is reflected in the final line-up of impressive talent:
So if you’re Wellington-based or in the area around the 11th August, please do take a chance and register for a ticket, plus, if you can assist in disseminating the offer through your networks that would really be ace also!
Why TEDxWellington isn’t happening this year.
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).
*The chunky time commitment has also been matched by a personal monetary investment with three trips to attend two TEDActives (the first to enable us to get the city license and name) and one TEDFest (whereby nearly every other TEDx organiser I spoke to knew about our creative efforts with the TEDx format, specifically our 2016 trust event which sold out in two minutes flat, did things no other TEDx had ever dared and got featured on ted.com).
So why take a break now?
Especially after the massive success of last years 1,000 strong event (with 5,000 souls watching online)!
Well, it came down to three reasons:
- 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.
So the public announcement was made at our last community Salon event and the feedback was vastly positive plus highly compassionate.
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.
A labour of love.
For the past 9 months TEDxWellington has been a massive focus of mine. Above are the final thirteen talks which are the highly public product of the event and which rock!
As the licensee, my job is to be across all aspects of development and delivery whilst ensuring all the rules are adhered to plus also build / communicate / inspire the volunteer delivery team to deliver upon the vision (on top of leading the speaker coaching as well).
The reason I devote so much of my time to such an endeavour which none of us get any kind of monetary remuneration for, is to give people voice.
There’s the obvious voices on the stage but also those in the audience who to come together and experience a TEDx event, then share as a community plus discuss and connect around the topics presented. There’s also enabling a core team of disparate strangers to collaborate and build something within the confines of the format. And finally, there’s the idea of giving a city an expressive platform to illustrate its own wonderful story (as most of our speakers / performers are always drawn from the region itself).
This year was all about scaling:
- to a 1,000 person event
- the team to deliver such a beast
- in the complexity of interactions between all of the above
Along with my co-organiser Hannah, the learning and insights of what to do and equally, what not to do, also expanded in scale.
Even though nearly every external aspect of the event was a success, there’s always stuff to improve upon and do better, and there are many aspects to change and tweak for the next annual event in 2018 (with a few adjustment to trial with the upcoming TEDxWellingtonWomen event in November).
And as I start to reflect further and write up the review blog post for the event plus finish off the finer details like paying invoices, following up with partners / sponsors, ensuring all the speakers are happy etc., I can’t help but feel that twinge of excitement for next year, as hungry to revisit the theme of doing something unique like in 2016.
Life’s to short not to be audacious!
A chance to share our inside story to the wider TEDx community.
I’ve been volunteering as a TEDx organiser for five years.
Enter, Mark Sylvester, another TEDx organiser and keen to champion the efforts of folks behind these events with his new podcast:
Hacking The Red Circle is a podcast created for and about TEDx Organizers and the TEDx Universe.
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.
Oh and we’re again doing something special for TEDxWellington 2017 (again).
TEDx experiences should be special.
The above was special. It was scary. And hopeful.
To be part of the TEDxWellington team who volunteered and put this together will remain a creative and significant high point in my life.
We started with an idea of trust which soon became a real action to be taken as more and more people (as part of building an event on this scale) had to be bought into the ‘inner circle’. Not one person let us down.
It was a year we intentionally stepped beyond our comfort zone, and:
- sold out in 2minutes
- tripled the amount of speakers / performer applications
- doubled the livestream count
- tripled the amount of volunteer applications
- nailed something which has never been tried before with a TEDx event
Read about the other things we did in the TEDxWellington 2016 Review | The Story Of Trust blog post.
Oh and just wait till you hear what we got planned next year.
ADDENDUM 18.3.16: our little event got covered on the TEDx Innovations blog on ted.com.
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: