5 steps towards a more impactful event from a veteran TEDx team

An attendee at TEDxPuraVidaJoven 2014 jumps rope at the event. (Photo: TEDxPuraVidaJoven)

An attendee at TEDxPuraVidaJoven 2014 jumps rope at the event. (Photo: TEDxPuraVidaJoven)

For three years, the team at TEDxPuraVidaJoven has worked on building their San José, Costa Rica-based TEDxYouth event. Watching the event evolve, the team has gained many insights into organizing a great TEDx event. Below, five tips from TEDxPuraVidaJoven for organizing an event that has lasting impact on a community:

1. Become a “legit” event.

Being the new kid on the block isn’t always easy, so TEDxPuraVidaJoven made efforts to get to know their neighbors and make friends all over — from schools to the government. It helps to have people understand what you’re doing and why when you’re a new initiative in a city, TEDxPuraVidaJoven Communications Director Mónica Hidalgo says, and working with others helped show that their commitment to ideas worth spreading was “legit.”

“On the first year of our event we were able to get a National Interest Declaratory for Education from the Ministry of Public Education,” she says. “This allowed us to involve teachers and students with the event during school time. It also provided us with a high level of credibility with our stakeholders. Since we received the National Interest Declaratory, students were allowed, and even incentivized, to take the day to stream the event and interact with it. We called these ‘Simulcast Sites’ (Sedes Conexión) and they could be located just about anywhere in the country where there was a sufficient Wi-Fi signal.

“Additionally, we invited the Vice President of Costa Rica, Ana Helena Chacón, to give a talk at our event, and had an excellent response from her and the audience. In our event in its second edition, we received some introductory words from Laura Chinchilla, at the time, president of Costa Rica.”

2. Have no room for a massive event? Use the Internet!

TEDxPuraVidaJoven focused a lot of their volunteer efforts on simulcasting, Hidalgo says. “The day of our third event we had managed to connect more than 130 simulcast sites, representing more than 6,000 people following the event live. We had schools connecting from across our seven provinces, as well as companies such as IBM, Ernst & Young, national hospitals, NGOs, and even, for the first time for us, prisons. In total, we had more than 20,000 people following the event and at least one site per country in Central America (big shout-out to some of our fellow TEDx organizers from the region). It helped us reach an amount of people that we would have never been able to fit inside the auditorium.”

3. Always aim for more accessibility.

For their third event TEDxPuraVidaJoven worked hard to open the event up to more people: they invited sign language interpreters to interpret the talks live. “This helped us reach an immediate population that had previously been excluded,” Hidalgo says. “We were able to invite the deaf community to one of our simulcast sites, and have them be part of the event.”

4. Let ideas worth spreading inspire your event planning.

An example? TEDxPuraVidaJoven let a talk from Costa Rican solar energy specialist Alejandro Brenes inspire their venue design in 2013. “We wired the National Auditorium to make our event an energy-sustainable event using purely solar energy,” Hidalgo says. “It took an effort between the public and private sectors, but we got to prove that — most times — through collaboration, innovation is possible.”

5. Keep the conversation flowing after the event.

Inspired by TEDxBeaconStreet’s TEDx Adventures initiative, the TEDxPuraVidaJoven created several day-long experiences that attendees could take part in after the event. “We had, for example, a day with Intel’s CEO, a day with the Minister of Economy or Youth, a day with a social media agency, and so on,” Hidalgo says. “We are proud TEDx Adventure Catalysts and having had the chance to go to TEDxBeaconStreet has motivated us to add some ingredients to our TEDx Adventures back home. These small but significant actions have helped us keep our community engaged and active as a part of a process of co-creation, and we hope to co-create a lot more in our forthcoming events.”

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