The rise of TED: Event management tips for your corporate events

Richard-Saul-Wurman-event-management-tips.jpgDid you know that the first Technology, Entertainment, Design conference (more commonly known as TED) was hosted as far back as 1984? This is according to a recent Fast Company long read by Michael Grothaus. Since then, the non-profit organisation has run over 50 TED conferences, which have all served to gather keen and like-minded thinkers for interactive talks on just about anything pertaining to the tech, entertainment or design industries.

The brain-child behind TED is Richard Saul Wurman, who chaired the popular TED conference from 1984 to 2002. Wurman later went on to develop the TEDMED conference for health professionals. Shortly after that, inspired to find a different and more cost effective way to run conferences, Wurman started the conversation-based WWW conference.

What was Wurman’s thoughts behind the WWW conference?

As Wurman explained in a video interview with Curiosity, the WWW conference aimed to gather intellectuals for unrehearsed conversations around all the ‘W’ words – war, the word, wit, the weather, the world. Wurman wanted to create a “meeting, gathering or dinner party, with 100 of the greatest minds in the world, having [unedited and unrehearsed] conversations, two at a time…with no time limit”.

And the cherry on the top? No one had to buy a ticket to attend this event, ever. In his video interview, Wuurman shared that, while he recognised the many risks to this venture and that there was “lots of possibility for failure”, he also had enough confidence in his ability to pull it off – and that, for him, was exciting.

What can event managers and professionals learn from Richard Wurman?

The following are a few event management tips that we feel can be gleaned from Wurman’s wealth of conference planning experience.

You’re never too old (or too skilled) to improve your craft

Wurman started organising conferences  in the 80s and has just kept going. In a YouTube video, he explained that, in continuing with honing the process, he’s been trying to figure out why something works and how he can create conferences that aren’t boring. By adopting a similar approach to corporate event planning – i.e. intentionally keeping corporate event experiences fresh, innovative and engaging – an event official can become the go-to specialist in their industry.

Risk-taking is worth it

Wurman’s first TED conference ran at a massive loss, but this didn’t stop him from organising the next one in 1985. Too often, we allow failure to discourage us instead of harnessing it for our learning. For Wurman, thinking out the box to explore new ideas and take risks was worth it. I know that this isn’t the most comfortable of event management tips, but, as event professionals, we need to take the necessary risks to push the boundaries and create event experiences that resonate deeply with our corporate guests.

There’s no need to blow the budget to impress your VIP list

It’s a common misconception that the flashier the corporate event, the better. What innovative ideas could you think up if you set yourself the task of planning a corporate event on half the allocated budget, for example? Scarcity often inspires creativity.

Wurman used subtraction principles to rethink his events: he subtracted all the conventional features of a conference (the lectern, long presentations, VIPs that were for face value only – all the pomp and ceremony of a conference) to create the 18-minute speeches that have made TED Talks as globally accessible as they are.

Let passion inform your event planning process

If you are organising events that you wouldn’t set foot in yourself, then something is amiss. Here’s the last of this blog’s event management tips: you need to have a passion for what you are doing, and this is only possible if your interest is piqued. Don’t be scared to add a personal touch to your corporate event planning that provides inspiration for you when the going gets tough. Don’t be scared to stretch yourself and explore the boundaries of the corporate event management world.

Other event management tips include keeping your finger on the pulse of event technology and being sure to keep up to date with the latest trends in Guest List Management Software. You may enjoy our event technology guide. You can download it here.

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