TEDx Speaker Curation

Random Observation/Comment #533:  Behind a well-organized event is a whole team volunteering hours of hard work and attention to detail. Kudos.


The backbone of “ideas worth sharing” is finding the right speakers and topics that share your organizations theme and audience interest for the year. The first thing to do is determine a theme.  If you’re looking for ideas, I’ve written a list of 30 TEDx Themes.

Once you’ve decided the theme, you break down the industries and topics surrounding the theme to pin-point your core speakers. Based on contacts and marketing techniques, you open up the application process through a series of mail chimp subscription letters and google forms. With the applicants, comes to speaker curation:

  • Decision Points – You must make these with your team. The answers to these questions will determine the number of speakers you pick.
    • Length of sessions and # of sessions?
      • TED Live did 2x 1.5 hour sessions with total 5 speakers, 7 short films, and 7 performances
    • How many speakers do we want?
    • How many performances do we want?
    • How long do speakers have? – usually we give people the option of 6, 10, and 15 min speeches, but the idea is “You have as much time as your idea needs.”
    • Which TED talks are we going to play in the session?
    • What themes do we want for grouping each session?
    • Are there any relevant YouTube videos to show in between sessions for destressing?
  • Selecting Speakers
    • Does the speaker fit into those overarching themes
    • Focus on the idea and the right person representing the theme
    • Most TEDx organizers recommended not picking back-up speakers
    • Selection criteria:
      • Local Connection
      • Expertise
      • Presence
      • Coachability
      • Dedication
      • Idea
      • Theme Connection.
  • Speaker Coaches and Speaker Engagement
    • Session 1: Train the coaches
    • Session 2: Introductions – Individual assignment/call with the Speakers (one coach usually only takes 2-3 individuals)
    • Session 3: Meet with Speakers – have the speakers present their core ideas in 3 minutes
    • Session 4: Rough Rehearsal walk through with sample audience.
    • Session 5: Dress Rehearsal – focus less on content and more on execution of videos, seating, etc
    • Session 6: Dinner with the speakers before the event
  • Communication with speakers
    • Provide outline of sessions
    • Provide outline of milestones and deadlines
    • Ensure speakers know about the time commitment
  • Collaboration Before Event
    • Speakers meet and get to know each other and their speeches
    • Speeches can reference other speakers in their session
    • Possible activities with speakers in person
      • Dissect a good TED talk into components
        • What’s the idea?
        • What’s the emotion?
        • What’s the fun?
        • What can we learn from each other?
      • Formula for a TEDx talk
      • Body language and Presentations
      • Write a Haiku about your speech
      • What tweet do you want people to write about your speech at the end of your talk?
      • Speed TEDx – like speed dating but sharing speech ideas
    • Webinar sessions for those who need to travel
    • Dress Rehearsal with sample audience
      • Allow 20 locals to provide honest feedback to the speakers so speakers know how to adjust it
    • Attend festivals and nonprofit events and have booths to connect TEDx with other places
  • Collaboration During Event:
    • Innovation Alley to keep audience engaged during breaks
    • Electronic badges
    • Activation areas with musical performances and group activities for attendees
    • Using Open Space Technology techniques to hold meetings
  • Collaboration After Event:
    • Happy hour and after parties
    • Create a follow-up conversation
    • Blog posts about call to action items and missions

~See Lemons Curate

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