spreading” and began courting a global
Now The Sapling Foundation hosts
two annual TED conferences — in Long
Beach, Calif., and Oxford, England.
TED2010, taking place Feb. 9-13,
2010, has 1,500 registered attendees
and sold out nearly a year in advance for
$6,000 per person. To register, attendees must submit applications, as the
organization approves only those who it
deems strong contributors to the TED
community. The annual conference is
intended to provide attendees an escape
from their day-to-day lives for an opportunity to engage in deep thought.
While TED stands for technology, entertainment and design, its breadth of topics now also spans business, politics,
science and global issues such as the
environment. Past speakers have included
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, World
Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, jazz
pianist and composer Herbie Hancock,
Nobel Prize winner for DNA research
James Watson, and robotic and drone
warfare analyst P.W. Singer. TED is known
for its widely eclectic content. In one sitting a participant could experience the
modern dance troupe Pilobolus; see an
atomic physicist’s invention to provide
cheap, self-prescribing eyeglasses to the
millions without access to an optometrist;
and hear about the power of hope from a
talented journalist who turned homeless
and bounced back to win awards.
The theme for TED2010 is “What the
World Needs Now.” True to the original
TED concept, the conference will be
comprised of 18-minute talks presented
in 12 main, movie-length (105 minutes)
sessions. Each session will focus on one
key attribute “the world needs,” including courage, provocation and laughter.
Beyond the main sessions, “TEDsters”
spend four days hearing talks given by
other attendees in sessions called “TED
University,” riding Segway people movers, test driving vehicles, enjoying receptions and art exhibits, and networking at
nightly galas, among other opportunities.
Its scope also includes the TEDTalks
video site, which showcases the highest-
rated talks and performances from TED
that can be shared and distributed for
free, and the TEDTalks discussion pages,
which are available in more than 50
languages and include threads from TED
members discussing everything from
global warming to poverty and poetry to
architecture. You can search TED mem-
bers worldwide on Ted.com to find oth-
ers with your same interests, education
LESSONS FROM TED
The following are some lessons and best
practices from TED that may be adapted
for association events:
1. Like TED University does, tap into
your attendees and give them opportunities to make peer-to-peer presentations during your event. Get
to know your attendees in advance;
facilitate their sharing and deeper
involvement in your event. Consider
asking for personal qualifications on
your registration form to pinpoint
2. Interaction with fellow and future
attendees can be year round using
recorded sessions and interactive
forums on the Web. Track interaction
through login registration. Create a
deeper level of online involvement for
those who attend. Give them logins
to access special Web features not
available to others — such as chat
tools that let them make direct contact with fellow attendees.
3. Create a buzz and mystique that fills
your event to capacity.
TED IS A
WE CAN LEARN
A GREAT DEAL.
4. Book mind-blowing speakers to challenge and excite attendees.
5. Provide RSS feeds and video playback of your annual meeting’s keynote speaker on your Web site.
6. Create an online chat room for
attendees who want to share their
personal interests as a way of better
understanding their professional life.
It could be as simple as taking your
listserv to a new level using photos,
personal bios and probing discussion
questions that require strategic rather
than operational thought.
7. Create rapid-fire webinars, or “
share-inars,” designed for sharing information about a hot topic. For example,
have colleagues quickly share how
they have incorporated the Flip
camera into their everyday life in 30
minutes or less. There are infinite
ways to use this low-cost, high-tech
solution. Imagine share-inars on creative ways to cut expenses at your
annual meeting or using Twitter to
communicate with conference attendees. These share-inars can then be
archived and indexed for on-demand
Coupled with viral distribution
through Twitter, Facebook and other social
networks, these no- or low-cost strategies
enhance your organization’s visibility,
increase feedback and just might provide that oft-coveted “ah-ha” moment. It
is only through experimenting with these
ideas that you will uncover what works
for you and where it can take you.
TED is a phenomenon from which we
can learn a great deal. The world, and
the world of events, is far better for it.
Ann Rebentisch, CMP, CMM, is a strategic meeting
and events consultant with expertise in conferences,
trade shows and special events, including the Democratic National Convention and GRAMMY Professional Forums. She may be reached at Ann@Strategic