Organising a TEDx event

TEDx University of Kent Medway

Back in March this year, just as the current global pandemic was becoming apparent, our Marketing Executive Phoebe was putting her final touches to an event first for Medway. With BLT as a sponsor, and helping where possible, we’ve been proud to see what Phoebe was able to put together, and the Tedx Kent event was a great success despite being slightly tainted by inevitable lockdown. Below is an insight to how she pulled it together.

Why I took on this project

As I was approaching my final year of university, I knew that I couldn’t go from doing a full-time job back down to just 8 hours of contact at university per week. I’ve always loved TED Talks and the wide variety of topics that they cover, and during my placement year at university I got involved in event management on a large scale. I knew that the Medway campus hadn’t yet had a TEDx event before, so I saw this as an area of opportunity for me to do something good for the campus and also myself.


Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Once you’ve applied and been accepted for your licence, you need to start thinking about who is going to help you with this project (spoiler alert: this is not a one-woman job). Building up a collaborative and hard-working team of volunteers is crucial to pulling off a successful TEDx Kent event, or any event for that matter! Particularly in the weeks leading up to the event, as the stress associated gets considerably amplified. In retrospect, I should have looked to have g a bigger team. I only had 2 fellow students on my team along with two members of university staff who helped out with financing, but ideally, we would have had one person in charge of each itemised action: speaker relations, sponsorship manager, social content manager etc.

Speaker selection

Selecting interesting speakers is arguably the most important element of organising a TEDx, as the whole ethos of TED revolves around ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. If the speakers do not have these ideas worth spreading, they aren’t the right fit for this project. I started promoting the opportunity and reaching out to potential speakers through LinkedIn around October before closing applications in December to make the final call. Normally the speaker selection process is finalised with 6 months prior to the event, so having just 3 months did perhaps cut it fine, but I feel that this is quite typical for University TEDx events.

The chosen TEDxUniversityofKentMedway Speakers:

  • Sloan Sheridan-Williams, Celebrity Life Coach
  • Anna Clare Harper, Property Investment Strategist
  • Ali Reza Shahrestani, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Sadiq Hussain – Speaker and Podcast Host

TEDx Speakers

Why Ctrl Alt Del

The theme CTRL ALT DLT was selected to tackle a diverse mix of topics in restructuring the way we currently think, the topics of our speakers’ talks include hacking your own fears, the new era of data privacy, solving the increasing housing crisis and finding your true purpose. We also showed 3 pre-recorded talks on the topics of mental health, the science behind procrastination and how to focus your mind on things you truly care about.

Marketing the event

Part of making this event as professional as possible, in order for it to be on par with other more established university TEDx Kent events, was ensuring that our marketing materials were sleek and polished looking. Fortunately for me, I knew a great little digital technology studio that would be perfect for designing what I needed (poster, digital assets, banner designs, etc).

Instagram –

Event experience

My favourite part about organising this event was definitely pulling together the ideas for optimising the audience experience on the night. From bespoke TEDx cocktails to TEDx branded merchandise (stress balls, tote bags, pens, notebooks…), it was these small details that I really, really enjoyed. Despite being early on in my career, the years of marketing experience that I have gained from both paid employment and work experience had allowed me to appreciate the importance of consistent and aesthetically pleasing branding. I was therefore able to apply this across all elements of this event. The overall atmosphere at TEDxUniversityofKentMedway was enhanced by the scale of the decorations surrounding the venue. The TEDx sign was a personal highlight of mine, all thanks to our lovely Dockside neighbours Anchor Signs.

TEDx University of Kent Medway CTRL ALT DEL merch
TEDx University of Kent Medway CTRL ALT DEL merch
TEDx University of Kent Medway CTRL ALT DEL Event
TEDx University of Kent Medway CTRL ALT DEL Event


Will I do this again?

The reality of organising a TEDx event is that it entails a lot, and I mean a lot, of hours. Being a university student, albeit working part-time, I had the luxury of having free time to dedicate to a project like this on the side. Sadly, I can’t imagine that I will have this luxury again, and that the time associated with planning and executing an event at this scale would be likely spent on progressing my career in a full-time job.

However, this does not mean that I did not absolutely love this project from start to finish. If anyone reading this feels as though they do have the time spare to do something amazing for their community, and for their own self-fulfilment, I highly recommend researching this opportunity further. The licence is completely free and there is so much support online, this has definitely been one of my fondest memories of university and I want to thank everyone involved once again for making this possible.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or fewer) delivered by today’s leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and made available, free, on TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Mandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the TED Translators Program, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

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