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What TEDx taught me? How to organize a global event in under 6 months.
by Saba Singh  20 Nov 2012
 What TEDx taught me? How to organize a global event in under 6 months.

So about half a year ago, a group of students, alums and professionals started working on a TEDx event: [email protected] The second in its series, [email protected] 2012 was planned to be large scale and exponentially more promising than its predecessor in 2011. After 6 months of squeezing time out of our class/work schedule and daily lives, we set up an event on November the 17th at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. While there are always ups and downs during event management, our team managed to develop several strong pillars to support itself and work hard. It is no wonder that the event was a full house until the very end!





Here are my short, brief insights into what I learned about event management from my TED experience:



  • Start work early: It took us almost six months of planning and execution to do this, and we were still hitting crisis level on the eve of the event.



  • Hire those who are interested in WORKING: whether they are interested in the topic of the event or not, your team mates should be interested in actually setting time out to work. Obviously, you also have to ensure that they are where they enjoy being, but really, they need to share your passion for the event!



  • Communicate: cliché, yes. But it is so for a reason. Really, there are so many things that can go wrong if you do not hit “reply all” on that email account. The same exact issues can come back up much after they have been solved and confuse you.



  • Get stressed: really, if you are not stressed about the event a week before it, you are clearly doing something wrong. No, seriously, if there are not a million potential issues running through your head, please go brainstorm with someone. Anything, and everything, can go wrong.



  • Integrating technology into your event? Test it: Our registration process was based solely on scanning barcodes on people’s tickets. Yes, a quick procedure if you think about it, but how many people have devices of that sort? (Arrange for them.). Furthermore, what if people don’t show up with their tickets? (Contingency plans would be great at this point).



  • Thank your team: you remember when you worked like crazy for someone and got thanked for it? It actually feels incredibly good, and you might even go back and help them out again. The same will, obviously happen to you. Thank your team mates every step of the way. Show them that without their work, you will not be able to do yours (this is a fact that is actually true as well).



  • Finally, treat those under you as peers: The structure of our team was hierarchical. It could be drawn on a piece of paper in a vertical format. This was, however, solely for the purpose of clarifying communication chains. I learned more from those who are “under” me than the other way around. They are smarter than you in a lot of areas. They are, therefore, your peers.





None of the above is really shocking news. However, they are all quick to forget and easy to pick up.



Organizing a [email protected] has been probably my most valuable learning experience yet. 

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