This March, TEDx and Infosys kicked off the inaugural TEDx Anchor Program in India — a program dedicated to incubating great ideas in India — with a massive meet-up and workshop for Indian TEDx’ers at the Infosys campus in Mysore. The TEDx Anchor Program is designed to work closely with TEDx teams to provide personalized support, foster civic engagement at the local level and ultimately help to build stronger, more connected communities in the areas taking part in the program. On March 25, over 100 TEDx’ers met in Mysore for two days of idea sharing, interacting, learning and fun at Infosys’s Global Education Center.
The weekend started off with group shuttles from Bangalore to Mysore, allowing TEDx’ers to get to know each other before the program started. Organizers and volunteers from places like New Delhi, Tiruchirappalli and Pune, made connections, began friendships and prepared for the weekend ahead. Says TEDxGCT organizer Ashwin Sankar of the trip, “[The] long bus rides gave way to initial introductions and glimpses of true friendship and soul-stirring voices.”
Once arriving in Mysore, attendees received a welcome to Infosys’s 337-acre campus, a training center complete with on-site accommodations, elaborate architecture, swimming pools, a cricket field and an education center with 200 classrooms — the location for the weekend’s workshop. “Infosys Mysore left no stone unturned to make us feel at home,” says Ashish Gupta of TEDxPune. “The quality of accommodation and hospitality we received was overwhelming.”
The next morning, everyone was ready to fill the day with TEDx. TEDx Global Partnerships Development Manager Felicity Fellows and TEDxBangalore organizer Sartaj Anand got the workshop started with opening remarks and special video messages from TED and Infosys. After these greetings, TEDx Community Development and Engagement Manager Amanda Ellis took the stage to share how the TEDx community learns from one another.
Many more topics were covered, from a deep dive on finding ideas and working with speakers by TEDx Applications Coordinator Rachel Saunders to a look at the growth of one TEDx event in India by organizer Yashraj Akashi from Mumbai.
“This workshop in a sense lifted a hidden bar we’d placed on ourselves [that limited] the heights to which we could take our event,” says Jason Rodrigues of TEDxNITTrichy in Tiruchirappall. “Considering the support we have from this global community, I feel we have nothing to worry about … The hospitality at Infosys as well as the warmth provided by the other [TEDx] Anchors and representatives from TED was more than enough to create several memories for me and my team.”
Before the day was over, TED staff had covered securing partnerships and working with sponsors, as well as leveraging tech and managing A/V, while TED Fellow and TEDx organizer Anthony Vipin Das spoke on building a dynamic TEDx team.
After a communal meal, attendees broke out into small groups for deep dives on event planning, speaker curation and event partnerships. Mohd Abdul Nayeem of TEDxSecunderabad in Hyderabad says this was his favorite part of the weekend because it not only allowed him to zero in on ways to make a TEDx event run smoothly, but also how to make it outstanding. Sanketh Sampara of TEDxMITP in Pune agrees, saying, “My favorite moment of the workshop was the breakout sessions by Rachel, Amanda and Felicity, where we TEDx’ers could interact with the experts, ask all our questions about organizing events which in turn will help grow the community and improve the quality of our respective events.”
The day ended with a Bollywood-themed gala, complete with dancing, photos, a performance and fun.
Sunday consisted of breakout sessions hosted by local organizers on topics like promoting gender equality in events, maintaining engaged audiences and building regional networks. The sessions allowed for open discussion and group brainstorms and encouraged collaboration and teamwork. Rohan Thapar of TEDxTuglaqRd in New Delhi said of the experience, “Meeting a plethora of TEDx organizers and getting to know their insights on TEDx has been of paramount importance, and it’ll go a long way. This workshop made me more attached to the community and motivated me to dig deeper to propel our local communities and bring a change through a simple idea.”
By the time the buses back to Bangalore were boarded, this diverse group of TEDx’ers from throughout India had made connections, friendships, and been re-energized to cultivate powerful TEDx communities. Pushpak Chakraborty of TEDxSMIT in Gangtok put it like this: “The best part of the workshop was that the TEDx community in India, which is very vibrant, got together to socialize and share their ideas, stories and experiences.” Ashish Gupta of TEDxPune echoed the sentiment, “What I’ll take back from this workshop apart from all the knowledge is lots and lots and lots of motivation,” he says. “The TED team answered each and every question with a vision to help us and passion for TEDx. That’s something unique I gained from this workshop.”