Planning your event

During the planning process, managing your team is one of the most important tasks you’ll have. Let’s make sure you have all the bases covered.

While planning your event

What is your leadership style? How do you work best with people, and how might your team work most effectively together? Through weekly Skype calls, or in-person meetings? Is your group most dynamic in a casual setting, or best organized in a conference room? You’ll want to think about the most productive ways to engage your group, and how to bring out your very best leadership qualities.

We find these to-do's are imperative for effective TEDx team management:

Bring them into the TEDx brand

You shouldn’t be the only TEDx enthusiast on your team. Invite your executive staff (and other volunteers) to better understand the spirit of TEDx. Watch a simulcast or attend a TEDx event together — preferably early in the planning process. Get them as excited as you are about the event!

Develop a task list and project timeline

You’ll want to create a task list and timeline at the beginning of the planning process, with definitive deadlines. You’ll also want to direct your executive staff to create their own goals, responsibilities and milestones for their specific area of planning.

Schedule regular meetings and check-ins

Make sure to meet with your team at regular intervals (e.g., weekly) to give each other updates, and talk next steps. When you get closer to the event, you may want to meet frequently. In between meetings, you should be checking in with staff individually to make sure they’re supported, and getting their tasks done. Communication should be constant.

Use online project management and sharing tools

Consider using free project management software such as Basecamp or Open Atrium. Dropbox, Google Groups and Docs, and PBWorks can be helpful for sharing docs and content management across the team.

Connect with the TEDx community

TEDx organizers have a wealth of knowledge about running a TEDx event, so make sure you and your team check out our Collaborative Learning section to tap into the TEDx community. Here, you’ll find learning resources and online groups that can help you navigate team management and other topics that arise when planning your event.

Keep things fun

The level of work and commitment needed to put on a TEDx event can sometimes feel daunting. Helping everyone, including yourself, to have fun can make the overall process easier. Try to do team building activities: have potlucks with your meetings, or go on a fun outing as a team.

When conflict arises

Inevitably, you’ll be faced with a challenge while managing your team. Here are a few important principles to follow:

Be both mediator and governor

Oftentimes, TEDx team members disagree or argue. As organizer and team manager, it’s your job to act as mediator and resolve conflicts that may arise. If other members of the executive staff have experience with mediation, bring them in too. But above all, be prepared to make an executive decision so that you can all move forward, and focus on the real task at hand: planning your event.

Be flexible

With any event, there are bound to be last-minute scheduling conflicts, technical issues and other unexpected roadblocks. Wherever possible, have backup plans that can be used if needed.

Check in with the community

Again, the TEDx community can be a really useful resource when challenges arise. Chances are, another TEDx organizer has had the same problem.

If your challenge is big enough that you think the TEDx team should be involved (or you have a problem you can’t seem to fix), email us.

My top three things to keep in mind as a leader of TEDx volunteers: Your team is doing this for love, not money — respect that above all.
Stephen Collins, TEDxCanberra

TEDx Tips
  • If you don’t have a co-organizer, consider picking an understudy or “second in command.” A practice of great leadership is to never keep all of the knowledge within only one person. Plus it’s great to have someone else for general backup while planning your event. So try to keep at least one team member closely informed of the process.
  • Like you, volunteers will be giving significant amounts of their time to this endeavor. Find ways to show them gratitude.
  • Be a learner. You may be the leader of this event, but a great leader is also a passionate learner who acknowledges they’re not always right.
  • Manage your expectations. Your team may not be able to deliver on everything they promise, so monitor their performance and give them low-risk responsibilities. If they do well, move them up to higher-risk tasks.
  • Don't micromanage. Hold your team accountable, but also give them the space to figure out what excites them, and you’ll build a strong team where future leaders can emerge.
  • Nominate a rule maven. In addition to yourself, there should be one other member of your core team who becomes deeply familiar with the TEDx rules. This can help avoid unnecessary problems as you move forward with your event.