Choosing a Venue for TEDxSanDigeo 2014

While every TEDx organizer understands just how important the choice of venue is, it’s not uncommon for these same organizers to underestimate the time it actually takes to select the best venue for each event.  Nearly 10,000 TEDx events have been produced over the past five years, and each one was designed to accommodate a unique set of needs, based on the local audience.  Smaller and more intimate, larger and more inclusive?  Elegant, charming, formal, cool, hip, rustic?  Auditorium, concert hall, meeting room, gymnasium, warehouse, theatre?

In the case of TEDxSanDiego, our first event was held at Anthology, a cool music venue in downtown San Diego.

TEDxSanDiego 2010 Venue AnthologyTruly a one of a kind venue, with floor seating in front of the stage and along the south rail, booths along the wall, both on the first and second levels, with more seating on the third floor overlooking the crowd, and featuring a million dollar sound system.

Supper club lighting added to the warmth and intimacy of Anthology, and as attendees shifted seats during the day they could enjoy the speakers and performers from a new perspective.


TEDxSanDiego 2011 Venue QualcommIrwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall was home for TEDxSanDiego in 2011 and 2012, and offered something new in size, structure, and capability. The auditorium seating, with a capacity of 500+, and a larger stage greatly expanded the look and feel of the event.

The venue also opened up to an expansive courtyard that made way for art installations, such as a globe rendition by 3D chalk artist Tracy Lee Stum, and provide outdoor seating during the breaks and lunch.


TEDxSanDiego 2013 Venue Calit2Shifting gears again, with the theme of re:THINK, the 2013 edition of TEDxSanDiego took place in the Calit2 Auditorium inside Atkinson Hall located on the UC San Diego campus.

Once again the venue felt so intimate, as though you could reach out and touch the speakers and performers.  As you might expect, the audience felt right at home, and as with Qualcomm, the outdoor courtyard was ideal for enjoying the day with newfound friends.


What Venue to Select in 2014?

While there are many benefits to a smaller venue, they have a downside in that production and logistics costs remain about the same, as do travel costs for speakers and performers, and there are fewer seats available to generate the revenue required to put on first class show.  And with the popularity of TEDTalks soaring over the past few years, another issue in a large city like San Diego is that our TEDx events always sell out, which means that a lot of folks end up on a waiting list, or miss out on the experience entirely.

Symphony Hall From StageSo the thought for 2014 was to find a larger venue that could satisfy the insatiable demand for seats, yet was built as a performance space with elegance and proper acoustics.  The search for an ideal venue search took us back downtown, to where TEDxSanDiego began, and ended with the selection of Copley Symphony Hall.

We hope you’re as excited as we are about the new digs, and our program team is working diligently to find the perfect mix of speakers and performers to grace the stage on November 8, 2014.  Sign up for our Email Interest List and be the first to know when the registration process begins.

 

TEDxSanDiego Social Media Playbook

How to get to 1.53 Million Impressions on Show Day

by Kara DeFrias

Over the past 4 years, we’ve experimented with and expanded our show day social media plan, growing from just 233,000 impressions in 2011 to 1.53 million impressions on Twitter alone. Discover how applying a journalistic and storytelling lens to social media enhances the experience for folks. Spoiler alert: Treat Twitter as play by play, and Facebook as color commentary.

Interactive Art Installation at TEDxSanDiego 2013

Interactive Art Installation at TEDxSanDiego 2013

TEDxSanDiego began in 2010, with lite social media integration. We tested Backstage Chronicles photos, and they ended up being the most liked! In 2011, the team added a dedicated social strategist, and started rigorously experimenting and testing in social media. Now we’re giving away our social media playbook. Our approach: storytelling and journalistic. As social media folks. we’re there to give viewers a behind the scenes look they wouldn’t get anywhere else, and make people feel special and included.

Just like you’d hire a photographer or invite the press to cover your event, having a dedicated social media strategist ensures all the months you’ve put into planning your TEDx event aren’t for naught. In this article, we’ll walk you through step by step how to plan for show day, what to do during the event on social media, and how to close the loop post-show.

Before The Show

Build your team
One person can do it all, but if you’ve got 2 people you can have one person live tweeting/blogging and one taking and posting pictures. In a dream world? 3 people: 1 posting, 1 taking pics, and 1 on the livestream.

Gear checklist

  • Grab a lightweight laptop for Facebook Admin rights and to set up your “home” station.
  • Charge your phone (with camera).
  • Download mobile apps for images and keep them easily accessible for show day: we recommend Diptic, Camera+, and Over.
  • Pack a power cord for computer! Pack a power cord for smart phone!

Get set up, yo
Get all passwords and admin rights 2 days prior to show day and go through a basic set up, making sure your tools of choice have autosaved passwords and are ready to go. Make sure you know who your on-site contact is in case there are any last-minute access issues (ex. wrong password). Ensure you’ll have Internet access prior to show day.

Sylvia Todd Backstage at TEDxSanDiego 2013

Sylvia Todd Prepares Backstage

Rehearsals — not just for speakers

Attending tech rehearsal is helpful for a number of reasons:

  • You get a lay of the land and know where you’re allowed to go. (Green room and backstage pics are always a hit for us.)
  • Allows you to introduce yourself to the speakers and get their preferred social media handles. (We’ve found some like using their company handles, while others prefer their personal ones.) If you can’t get the social media handles, research ahead and have them available for the live coverage. During the speaker orientation I’ll say, “Hi, I’m Kara from the social media team, and we’re here to help you shine tomorrow by amplifying your message from the stage across social channels.” This helps put a name to a face, and when they see you on show day taking pics or scribbling notes they’ll know who you are.
  • You can stake out your seat. (Hint: should have power outlets and be in the back of the event space so your screen doesn’t distract other attendees).
  • And most importantly: listen to the speakers. As they practice their talk, listen for gems and write them down. This helps on show day so you don’t miss anything as they give their talk.

During The Show

Know your channels
It doesn’t make sense to copy and paste the same message across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or others. We treat Twitter as play by play, and Facebook as color commentary. You’re not there to transcribe the speakers word for word; your job is to paint a picture in broad strokes for folks.

For tweets, we’ll average 1 to 5 per speaker (depending on their talk length). For shorter talks, we’ll do 1-2, for a full 18 minute talk it’s more like 3-5 quotes. Try to capture the sound bites that are great for retweeting, sharing, etc. We also will retweet others during the show; it’s a great way to engage the community and amplify others.

On Facebook start a post for each speaker with some brief introduction and bio info then add some sound bites as comments to the post, varied from what is posted on Twitter.

Bear Sculpture Decorated at TEDxSanDiego 2013

Be a good host
The social media person also acts as the virtual host. This means in addition to posting speaker quotes and pictures from the show, it’s helpful to let viewers and fans know when the show is going on break, and when it’ll be back. Like Ryan Seacrest, but you’ve got better hair. (Do the same on your livestream feed, too.)

Know what’s going on in the world
What are people talking about in social? Are there any relevant hashtags to your speakers? The week of TEDxSanDiego, there happened to be a lot of buzz around drones, and one of our speakers was talking about them, so we included #drones where appropriate.

Be up-to-date on Facebook algorithms
Facebook always seems been playing around with their algorithms. Post too many times from your page and the posts won’t show up in any fans’ News Feeds. So be prudent during the show. (see “Know Your Channels” above.) (Note: Your mileage may vary, as Facebook could change this at any time. In fact, by the time we hit “Publish” they probably have.)

Have fun with picquotes
You’ve probably seen images floating around the web with quotes laid on top of them. It’s not some magic unicorn splattering glitter dust with a wand to make these happen; there are a variety of tools available and it’s quite easy. At TEDxSanDiego, we like an app called Over. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open Over and select the photo you’d like to use. (Wide angle shot with a lot of space next to the speaker.)
  2. Type the quote/gem from their talk. Use 1 easily legible font (such as Helvetica Neue or League Gothic) in a color that contrasts with your background (white tends to work well). Then choose a word or part of a phrase to punch in a striking color and different font.
  3. Add speaker name in a lighter color (like grey) and put it below the quote.
  4. Add your event hashtag so folks know where the speaker is.
  5. Save, then publish out to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (We don’t recommend autopublishing from Instagram to the other channels, as the photo doesn’t get ranked as high by the programs. In Twitter, for example, you want the picture to show up right in the tweetstream, and it won’t if you publish from Instagram.)

Matt D’Arrigo On Stage at TEDxSanDiego 2013

In the beginning, it’ll take about 10-15 minutes to make each one. As you get comfortable with the format and process, it should only take you 3-5 minutes each. ProTip: Stick to one picquote per talk, and it should be the gem.

Secure backup pics
In the event your camera phone craps out, it’s smart to have your livestream person taking screen shots along the way. Take 2-3 per speaker, then email them to the entire team after each talk. Vary a close up shot with a wide shot that includes a lot of empty space — you’ll use this space to draw one of their quotes on.

Post Show

Thank folks, close the loop, and report results
If you were brought in to cover the event (as opposed to being on the core team), here are a few templates to send to the organizer.

  • Thanks message: Thank you for the opportunity to cover TEDx(name). We had a blast, and will be sending out a wrap-up in the next week.
  • Results message: Here are a few key results: result x, result, y, a few qualitative examples of what others were saying. (Include total shares, impressions, and a selection of posts and tweets from fans and the show account.)
  • Safety message: Thanks for trusting us. Know that we’ve deleted all of your passwords from our computers and that we will no longer be posting on your Page/Twitter account. For good measure, we always recommend our clients reset their passwords to social sites once a month anyhow to avoid hacking, spam, and other foul play.

The key in all of this: be authentic. To your speakers. To your show. To your audience.

In the end, whether you reach 1 person or 1 million people isn’t as important as helping your speakers shine in your social media channels. After all, it’s about “ideas worth spreading.”

Todd Gloria Onstage at TEDxSanDiego 2013

Follow Kara DeFrias on Twitter, as well as contributors to this article. Becky Scott, Chelsea Marti and Doug Smith from the TEDxSanDiego social media team.  Catch all the news on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.