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How TED Talks Went Virtual
In-person events ain’t what they used to be.
From trade shows and conference presentations to fundraising events and large annual gatherings, organizations are rethinking how best to connect with audiences in a post-coronavirus world.
Not surprisingly, TED has a few innovative ideas.
The brand behind TED Talks is facing the same challenges as all companies transitioning from live event to laptop screen.
TED’s facing a particularly uphill battle with virtual events. Its annual conference is all about the experience. The smartest people in the world spend years gearing up to share their best stuff. Business leaders pay top dollar for a week of networking and thinking big picture in a luxurious space. The TED Theater is custom-built to help audience members soak up inspiring ideas.
That inspiration just hits different when you’re watching a TED Talk on your phone between answering emails and checking on dinner.
So, TED reimagined conferences from the ground up.
TED2020 – Uncharted wrapped up last week. This year’s signature TED event lasted eight weeks with daily themed programming. It was a mix of midday live conversations focused on COVID-19 recovery, real-time Q&As, “conversational speed dating,” and even some kids’ programming. Only Thursday nights were devoted the big-screen keynotes TED has become known for.
The Lesson from Virtual TED Talks
TED’s updated programming recognizes a key fact in our new virtual world – it’s not just conference schedules that are out of whack. Millions of people are working from home. They’re working odd hours. It’s harder than ever to get their undivided attention. Your story suddenly has a whole new chorus of competing voices.
Reimagining what internal and external events look like starts with understanding the goals of the event. From there, find the digital formats and platforms that allow you to create personal, direct experiences without physically being in the room with one another.
What TED2020 loses in immersion it makes up for in access.
It’s the variety of formats, time slots and tones that makes it work. Here’s how TED curator Chris Anderson told it to Quartz.
“The goal is to find this rhythm that we can accommodate in the weird lives that we’re leading right now. To build up this little weekly routine … where we have a little bit of each other and have TED kind of every day, not too much, just enough to feel great.”