Resource:How to inspire innovation using a TEDx event

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This Wiki write up was inspired from interviewing Ben Johnston who is a former UI fellow and has experience developing a TEDx event. 


Intro: What is a TEDx Event?

TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design." Founded in 1984, TED was a one time event that emphasized technology and design. The main annual TED conference began in 1990 in Monterey, California. Owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, TED events involve live streaming of various talks. The slogan that the Sapling Foundation uses to describe TED sums up the purpose: "ideas worth spreading." Currently, TED events are held throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia, in which a wide range of topics are discussed within the research and practice of science and culture. These speakers giving the talks are innovative in their storytelling to engage the audience. 

TEDx began in 2009, when TED started granting licenses to third-parties to organize independent TED-like events. These TEDx events can be themed in any manner, in which invited speakers can talk about different subjects that don't necessarily have to be about science and technology. TEDx events are prohibited from making profit , although individual admission fees or sponsorship can be collected to cover the running costs. Moreover, invited speakers are not paid and agree that TED has the right to edit and distribute their presentation under a Creative Commons license. In order to obtain a granting license from TED to host a TEDx event, one must submit an online application form at this website TEDx events are extremely useful on Universities as wealth of knowledge can be shared. Thus, innovation knowledge can be discussed on campus through a popular TEDx event. 

Need and Goal

If one is interested to inspire innovation via a TEDx event at a University, one must assess the speakers involved in the event. It is important to understand what are the missing resources for innovation and invite speakers to elucidate those missing gaps. Overall, the goal out of the event can mostly be achieved from the speakers that can educate the audience on the topic of interest. Thus, it is important to invite the right speakers for the right type of TEDx event. 


The audience of the event is varied. The type of audience that shows up to the TEDx event depends on how the event is organized/themed. For an event on innovation, the audience will most likely be that of entrepreneurs and people with business or a science background. Moreover, the audience also depends on where the event is located. If the event is located at a University, then more students and professors interested in innovation will most likely attend. In all, the audience is dictated by the location of the TEDx event and its organization. 

Speaker/s and Content

Selecting the speakers for the TEDx event and what they should speak about is up to the person(s)/team running the event. The content of the event is open to any theme. For an innovation TEDx event, it would be beneficial to choose speakers that are entrepreneurs or experts in that field. 


A TEDx event can be hours to a day long. However one wants the duration of the event to last probably depends on the amount of speakers and the allotted time they have to speak. Basically, the event is structured with speakers who can speak in front of an audience. Typically, the speaker is on stage facing the audience. Moreover, these events are traditionally filmed and streamed online. Thus, the speakers should not have a problem being filmed. 

Reaching out to potential speaker/s

Emailing speakers or asking recommendations for speakers specifically to discuss about innovation, can help in attaing them for the TEDx event. One should try to attain speakers who are local and also abroad to display an informative event. 


The cost depends on where and how the setup of the event takes place. If one wants to entice people to come for a long event, it might be wise to provide lunch for everyone involved. Also, getting a good camera crew to film the event can be costly. Typically, at a University one would want to raise thousands of dollars to secure the event and film it properly. Moreover, obtaining sposorships is a great way to get costs covered for the event. 


The dat e of the event is important. Make sure the date and time of the event is one in which your audience and mostly attend. Typically, weekends are good. Moroever, do not schedule the TEDx event around other popular events such as the NCAA basketball tournament or the Superbowl. 

Fundraising and sponsorships

If one wishes to host the TEDx at a University, then it is important to secure funding from the school. Furthermore, more money can be obtained from sponsors. TEDx has great credibility and many sponsors would not mind to support the event as long as their logo or brand is advertised at the TEDx event. 


The right space depends on where one wishes the event to occur. At a University with a big student population it would be important to reserve a large auditorium at which many people can witness the talks from the speakers. Moreover, placing an event inside a building eliminates the risk of possible weather concens such as rain. 


The overall message for the event should be notified easily and in a local area for which the event will take place. At a University creative ideas such as T-shirts for the event and signs can help as advertisement. A TEDx event theme is open-ended. For an innovation theme it would be important to advertise the TEDx event as one that. 


Inviting participants to speak at the event can be accomplished via email, phone, or a website signifying about the event. The primary audience can be notfied in a variety of creative ways such as utilizing T-shirts, signs, or websites. 


If the event is located on a University, check with the school's adminsitration for handling the event. A creative team is important for how the event should be facilitated, whether its run by students or faculty. 

Event Logistics

Prior to the event make sure speakers can comfortably arrive at the date of the event. Also, make sure any necessary food or equipment (i.e. camera , etc.) will be available. During the event it is important to transition between speakers according to an allotted time plan. 

Media capture

Video recordings of the event are important for substantial publicity. Make sure to invest in a good camera crew so that the talks can be streamed in great quality online. This will enhance the importance and overall message of the event, while giving the speakers great pride in particiapting at the TEDx event. 


The impact can be meausred based on the overall interest in the local area of where the event has taken place. If the event has taken place on a University, typically the administration will inform of how the event went and if it should take place again. Furthermore, keeping a count of the number of people who attended will give a great evaluation of how the event went. If the allotted tickets were sold out and many people stayed throughout the whole event, this will give a great indication that the TEDx event was successful to participants involved. 

Sustainability and planning for future events

Engage both the speaker's and participant's thoughts about the event. Allow them to take a survey or post on a website their thoughts of how the TEDx event was handled and setup. Moreover, get in contact with the sponsors to see if they would be willing to help sponsor another event next time. Lastly, make sure that the monetary budget has not been exhausted and that the owners of the facilities used were pleased with the overall operations. 

Future Leadership

It is important to have a great creative team when setting up a successful TEDx event. The team should be able to adress different concerns such as budget, advertising, obtaining the right speakers, facilities, etc. Thus, after graduating, students in the team should find their respective replacements that can fill the specific duties to successfully keep running a TEDx event. 

Lessons learned and tips for others

Make sure to pick the right date for people to attend. A super team to help setup a great TEDx event is pivotal. Need people on the team to know how to invite great speakers, film the event professionally, advertise, balance the budget, etc.