Reposted from Steve’s Blog, Nov 9, 2012
TED is an amazing experience for participants because not only is the content compelling, but also the conversations with others are engaging and rich.
I find both aspects to be equally important.
I like to break events into a series of Main Stage Sessions and Interactive Sessions:
Main Stage Sessions include a well-curated set of talks, the talk of each presenter’s life, totaling approximately 80-100 minutes for the session.
Each main stage session ideally has a sub-theme that links each of the talks. In addition to the live presenters, we are not afraid to include funny YouTube clips, live music, or other types of content that really make that main stage session an engaging experience. We want people to leave informed and inspired by the content they’ve just consumed.
Interactive Sessions are equally important, then, as an opportunity for dialogue about what people just heard. What did you hear that you disagree with? What new ideas did that spark? For some people, just a place to go talk is enough, but for others, it’s great to facilitate some extra chances for serendipity. We’ve had areas with fencing as well as places to fly blimps. At an upcoming event, we’ll have basketball-playing robots and our own spin on the Generous Store. Another thing I’ve seen work well is a “Before I Die…” wall. It’s good to include enough time for interaction in your program, ideally 60 minutes instead of a 30 minute “break”.
I also like broadcasting this vocabulary in telling participants the day is split up in this way. Therefore nothing is called a “break” because we want people to be fully on all day.
I’d be interested to hear more about the way others set up their programs as well.