How to make a poetry wall at your TEDx event

 

Poetry at TEDxFargo

Poetry at TEDxFargo (Photo: Dan Francis)

At a TEDx event, audience members come face-to-face with a litany of big ideas, often coming one after another in rapid-fire succession. How, then, does a TEDx team give their audience space to process these new ideas in a way that is accessible and fun?

For the team behind TEDxFargo in North Dakota, the solution was poetry. Really big poetry. Inspired by the popular Magnetic Poetry kits, TEDxFargo decided to create a super-sized exhibit inviting attendees to create poetry from a giant catalog of TEDx-related words.  As coordinator Simone Wai says, the exhibit was designed to “[allow] TEDxFargo guests [to] keep an ongoing commentary on what was on their minds after each session,” and get creative during breaks. It was a big success, she says: “It was great to see the piece evolve over the course of the day, and our guests had a lot of fun creating their phrases.”

Attendees get creative with the poetry wall at TEDxFargo. (Photo: Dan Francis)

Attendees get creative via the poetry wall at TEDxFargo. (Photo: Dan Francis)

How to make your own? Here’s how — from TEDxFargo:

1. Make a word list. The TEDxFargo team consulted lists of the most commonly used words in English (Here is one.) first and chose several words from these for their project, then added some goofy words to the list just for fun (“zombie” and “unicorn,” for example), and some words revelant to the event — some “that we thought would inspire people to think creatively,” says Wai.

2. Create your words. Use your master list to create a library of words for your attendees to use. TEDxFargo printed their words on 18′ x 11″ white paper, then cut them out and laminated them to keep them safe from rips or weather.

3. Create a backdrop. TEDxFargo used a large piece of black felt. Choose a color and size that works for your event space. TEDxFargo attached their backdrop to an outside wall of their venue with sticky tack.

4. Make your words sticky. TEDxFargo recommends using hook and loop fasteners (Velcro), as it creates a strong bond between backdrop and word.

5. Start creating poetry! Create an opening line and allow your attendees to finish the rest. TEDxFargo kept all not-yet-used words in a large metal bucket next to the backdrop for easy access. Feel free to use whatever container you feel best fits the design of your event and event space.

Poetry at TEDxFargo

Poetry at TEDxFargo (Photo: Dan Francis)

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