Anyone who knows me, or follows me on Twitter, will know that on Wednesday night I co-organised TEDxCardiff in Wales Millennium Centre. It was an evening of talks and performances by brilliant people from all over the UK. People travelled from as far away as Bournemouth and York to be in the audience. We had people watching live online in far-flung places such as America, Portugal and the middle east. And the whole thing was pulled together in our spare time by Claire and I, with the help of a small handful of brilliant volunteers.
TEDxCardiff is part of a scheme run by TED.com, that allows people to run TED-like events in their own city. If you’re not already aware of it I’ll leave you to discover the brilliance of TED in your own time. It’s basically a conference where brilliant people deliver amazing, courageous, jaw-dropping, inspiring talks.
I’m really looking forward to the talks from our event being edited and going up online so I can share them with those who couldn’t join us on the night. And so I can watch them all again in a more relaxed state!
Firstly, I want to personally thank the speakers and performers for generously giving their time and expertise to give us such an entertaining and inspiring evening. And the sponsors who were so generous with their time and resources. And finally our amazing volunteers who painted, carried, filmed, stapled, ran, bought, designed, created and worked for many, many hours. I am truly in awe of all of them for their commitment.
I learned quite a lot during the process of pulling together:
1.People’s capacity to commit their time for nothing in return, other than to be involved with such an event, is nothing short of amazing. The speakers, sponsors and volunteers all have my undying admiration.
2.If we do this again, we need a bigger team. It was just too much for Claire and I to do just on our own. I took most of the week off and put 45 hours of work into in just the first 3 days this week, and the day itself was incredibly stressful. And things such as press and PR just fell by the wayside while we concentrated on the practicalities of making the event happen.
3.People who don’t pay for tickets, or pay very little, don’t value them as much and are much more likely to not turn up. We had an overwhelming demand for the tickets (they sold out in record time), but on the night we had empty seats in both sessions, which was a real shame, knowing that there were other people who would loved to have been there.
4.The decision to hold the first session at 5pm might have been a little flawed. It’s a bit too early for people to get there from work (and may have accounted for some of the empty seats if people were held up in the office), they haven’t had a chance to get changed, eat, and have a chance to unwind before coming along. That’s possibly why the second session crowd was bigger, and seemingly more responsive.
5. Maybe a Saturday session is the way to go in future. We could do a longer day, with bigger breaks, and some breakout sessions to give people more chance to mingle and “network”.
6. The person who develops a universal presentation software format will earn a fortune, and I’ll personally give them everything in my bank account (£4.67). It was by far and away the biggest source of headaches over the course of the evening. And without DK and Andy, it would have been twice as hard!
7. We probably need to communicate the restrictions of the TEDx format a bit better. The feedback we had often mentioned a desire for Q&As with speakers. Something which the TEDx license doesn’t allow us to do, for example.
8. Having said that, the feedback was almost entirely positive, which is a huge relief. When you’ve put so much time and effort into something for no return, it’s easy to be hurt by any criticism. But there didn’t really seem to be any! Here’s a quick overview of the results:
I’m quite happy with that graph, of course!
Here’s a list of thank-yous. We couldn’t have made this event happen without them:
Ian England – programme design
Andy McKay – programme printing and AV assistance
Laura Howe – Set design
Jo Burnett – Runner / Volunteer
Lynsey Jackson – Runner / Volunteer
Kirsten Loza – Runner / Volunteer
Rob May – Photography
Derek Russell – Intro videos
Alistair Gibbs – Photography