Speakers today include Elza Erkip, NYU Tandon School of Engineering professor; Rob Kissner,founder of the Digital Arts Experience on Central Ave in Greenburgh ; and Irvington resident Genevieve Piturro, founder of the Pajama Program. I am also one of the speakers and briefly talked about why students shouldn’t be afraid of failure. I mention my first campaign - I ran for Student Council President in High School and---lost! But, I learned from the experience.
Hosting your own TEDx event is a lengthy, but rather rewarding and educational, experience. Before dedicating months for planning, it is important to watch TED Talks, explore TED’s style, and make sure that this format suits your audience. If you are sure you would like to host a TEDx event, assemble a team of a few friends to help manage all of the work. Note, however, that if you are under the age of eighteen, you will need a co-organizer who is an adult and someone who is willing to work with your TEDx team. A teacher or parent is a great addition to your team as a co-organizer!
Visit https://www.ted.com/participate/organize-a-local-tedx-event to learn more about hosting an event.
Once you are ready to start organizing your event, the first step is applying for a license. Visit https://www.ted.com/participate/organize-a-local-tedx-event/apply-for-a-tedx-license to apply for a license. Here you will find an application for your TEDx license (this will need to be renewed every year). There are specific licenses for different events, but no matter which you choose, the application is free. If your application is not reviewed within eight weeks, email TED to check the status of your license. TED is not obligated to give you a license, so be thoughtful in your application!
Once you have your license and your team is assembled, read both the TEDx Organizer Guide and the TEDx Speaker Guide. These documents are extremely helpful because before you start asking speakers to present at your event, it is helpful to understand TED’s speaker and organizer recommendations. These guides include all of the requirements for hosting an event and speaking at an event—details such as the length of presentations (10–18 minutes) and the focus of presentations.
Once you are ready to contact speakers, keep in mind that TED recommends planning an event six months in advance. You do not need to set an affirmative date yet, but just use this as a frame of reference for your speakers. The most difficult and important part of planning your event is finding the right speakers. We recommend sticking with a theme, such as technology or medicine. Another different tactic is finding diversity—look for speakers with expertise in different areas (this will make your event more exciting for your viewers). At TEDxScarsdale, we choose to find six speakers across three different disciplines (politics, technology, and medicine). In each of these categories, we recommend finding both a male speaker and a female speaker. If you are a highschool-aged or a college-aged organizing team, find speakers who share your alma mater. Alumni from your school are usually more willing to revisit their communities to share experiences.
It is now critical to find speakers whom you can easily contact. This does not only make it easier to find speakers, but it also means these speakers will be easier to reach out to later in the planning process. Try contacting professionals using LinkedIn, Facebook, email addresses on online professional profiles, or mutual friends first. If you are having trouble finding speakers, ask your co-organizer if they have any friends or colleagues who would be interested in speaking. Make sure to send a polite email that includes an approximate month for your event and the TEDx Speaker Guide because chances are they will be very busy. Unfortunately, you should assume that four or five speakers will actually be able to present out of the six that you invite. For our 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 school year events, we invited six speakers and only four were able to attend.
It is now crucial to find an organizing space. TED prefers limiting event spaces to one hundred audience members, so look for smaller venues (if you choose to hold an in-person event). Libraries and school performance spaces are great. If you are holding a virtual event (as most organizers choose in 2020), discover the best platform for your speakers to present: Will you have a live Zoom event? Will you do a prerecorded YouTube Live premiere?
Now it is time to pick some dates that can attract viewers. Once you have selected a handful of dates, send them to your speakers to see which ones work best. Be prepared to either find new speakers or compromise. Finalize your date four or five months beforehand. This is now the time you can ask your speakers to begin writing their presentations. Make sure to give them plenty of time to work on their speeches—two months is ample. After this time has passed, ask to read their speeches to get an idea of what your speakers will be presenting.
By the time that you are satisfied with the presentations, you should be approximately two months away from your event. This is a great opportunity for your speakers to create slideshows and start rehearsing their speeches because most TEDx speakers choose to speak without cue cards or a physical speech at hand.
When your speakers are preparing, you should also start the bulk of your preparing. Design custom t-shirts! Get your very own TEDx sign! Before you start this process, go to the TEDx website where you can find more information explaining how to get an official logo. Work with a production team to organize how to film your event! TEDx requires you to record your event so this is very important. This is also a great time to create social media to share who your speakers are. Create a website with speaker profiles. During this time, you should also take note of how to format your event. Also, figure out who will be your MC(s).
In the final month, tell all of your friends and family about your event. Post on social media. Hang flyers. Update your speakers so they feel like they are still in the loop. Put tickets on sale (we choose to hold free events, but be mindful about how much you are charging). Once you are satisfied with the number of ticket holders, do some final preparations for your event. At this time, you can set up your event space and organize the smaller logistics. These include choosing friends to usher for your event and guide speakers and guests to your event space.
Now, it’s event day. Be excited to present! Your months of hard work come down to this ninety minute event. Invite your speakers a few hours in advance so they can be comfortable with the stage. Once your audience starts to arrive, stay professional, and make sure to be enthusiastic and entertaining!
Our Personal Remarks
Each member of the TEDxScarsdale team is passionate about sharing ideas, and giving back to their community.
Our president, Rowan Haffner, and vice president, Rishika Bansal, are dedicated to Scarsdale High School’s Speech and Debate Team. They are both experienced in public speaking, and they understand why it is so important. Rowan spoke at TEDxYouth@WHRS in January, and Rishika is a member of the Scarsdale High School Student Government. Our vice president, Ethan Hersch, is involved in local nonprofit organizations, including J-Teen Leadership and El Centro Hispano. Ethan has gained leadership skills from organizing community service projects with J-Teen, one being an MLK Day medical supplies sort with over three hundred volunteers in attendance. Our team is dedicated to the Westchester community, yearning for the opportunity to share our speakers’ stories with peers.
Organizing a TEDx event is a great way to work with a motivated team that shares similar interests and reach out to your community. Once in a while, however, this process can become tiresome and frustrating. To host our 2020 event, we had to renew our license on short notice, deal with a double-booked event space, find a new event space, cancel two weeks in advance for the COVID-19 pandemic, and organize a virtual event. Fortunately, our speakers were extremely understanding and excited to share their hard work with the Scarsdale and Westchester communities.
This year, TEDxScarsdale’s list of speakers includes Paul Feiner, Town Supervisor of Greenburgh; Elza Erkip, NYU Tandon School of Engineering professor; Rob Kissner,
founder of the Digital Arts Experience on Central Ave in Greenburgh ; and Irvington residentGenevieve Piturro, founder of the Pajama Program. Join us on Sunday, August 30 at 5:00 p.m. to hear from this wonderful group of speakers.
TEDxScarsdale’s YouTube channel:
For more information, check out TEDxScarsdale’s website: