A global gathering of TEDx organizers … via Google Hangout

(by Flickr user Horia Varlan)

(by Flickr user Horia Varlan)

In 2012, 650 TEDx organizers from all over the globe came together in Doha, Qatar for TEDxSummit — five days of workshops, discussions, and presentations designed to share stories and insight from the first three years of TEDx. Over these five days, many TEDx organizers met face-to-face for the first time, and many others reignited old connections — discussing videos, venues, speakers, and all that it takes to galvanize communities around big ideas.

Inspired by this cross-cultural week of connections, TEDxRainier organizer Phil Klein decided that TEDxSummit didn’t have to end in Doha. In April 2013, he organized the first TEDx Organizers Global Gathering — a week-long series of live Google Hangouts that allowed TEDx organizers and volunteers to connect with one another and with TED staff through online deep dives and learning sessions.

In May of 2014, the second Global Gathering was held: organizers from all over the globe came together to meet, brainstorm, and share knowledge under the theme “What’s Next?” Forty-three sessions were in held in six languages — Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean and Spanish.

We talked with Klein about the gathering and its impact. An edited version of that conversation follows:

His favorite session? There were many, but Chris Anderson’s sticks out:TEDx’ers worldwide were able to have an open conversation and discussion with the leader of TED … a chance to think together, meet and share ideas with one another, which improves understanding and builds connection between TEDx’ers and leadership at TED.”

The biggest lesson he’s learned from organizing the 2013 and 2014 gatherings? “When you put yourself in a learning environment with smart people, you learn what you didn’t know before.” It sounds really simple, he says, but the breadth of knowledge shared in these Hangouts continues to surprise him: “Chris Anderson’s reflections on the importance of community, the value of translations that June Cohen shared, the extraordinary results that Bob Cole’s TEDx achieves through simultaneous interpretation … these and more all exceeded my hopes for the event and brought me knowledge I could never have attained otherwise.”

Why he thinks the Global Gathering is important? “The Global Gathering is a great, affordable way for many  TEDx organizers to meet and learn with others from around the world and in nearby countries. At the TEDxSummit and at TEDx Global Gatherings, we have seen vividly how much value there is in meeting and convening together, and that innovation and great ideas are generated at TEDx events from all regions of the globe, from small events and large ones, from first time events and repeat events, from elaborate events and from very low budget events. The best of TEDx is distributed globally, so the only way to learn the best is to be connected globally as people, in real-time learning conversations where we see one another, as we do at the Global Gathering.”

The most encouraging thing an organizer or volunteer has said to him about the Global Gathering? “‘This is transformative. In the conversations where we are thinking all outside of ourselves, that generativity to me is where the magic in all this lies. You can’t get that in a classroom, you can’t. To me there’s something about it that’s just much more profound.’ – Keita Demming, TEDxPortofSpain.”

What inspires him to put on the Global Gathering? Knowing that people will learn important lessons from peers, have meaningful conversations, and get to know great people from across the world without leaving home.

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