TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a conference formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading." Over a four day period, 50 speakers each take up an 18-minute slot about their message. More than 1,000 people attend the event and it is always sold out one year in advance.

This year's conference held from February 25 through March 1 in Long Beach, California was no different, but the tact to find interesting and informative speakers was. Take a quick peek at one of the 33 speakers that was invited to the conference: 


How did TED find Richard Turere, a 13-year-old boy who resides in a remote area of Nairobi Africa, you might ask? Through a process of global talent search and video curation. Here are the things TED did to make their conference more interesting and relevant to their audience.

FIRST, they themed their event.

The 2013 TED theme was "The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered."  When the team embarked on their journey to find quality presenters, this is what they looked for and they did not waiver from their mission. 

Is your meeting or event themed? Do you know the overarching message you want your presenters to deliver to attendees? Having a simple theme that you can expound to your presenters, sponsors, exhibitors and attendees will help keep your event's purpose focused and on track. 

SECOND, they went on a global search for talent over a specified period of time. 

From April to June 2012, the TED talent team went to 6 continents in 14 cities looking for presenters. And they found it — over 290 speakers and performers were invited to participate in the next step of the TED process. The team went to the talent, not vice versa.

When was the last time your organization went searching for fresh talent? We are all busy, but the TED team did this over a two month process AND 8-10 months in advance of the conference. If you have five people on your conference team, couldn't you each take a few extra hours at your respective destinations to personally interview prospective speakers for your conference? 

THIRD, they utilized video curation technology to allow attendees to view, vote and comment about the speakers. 

TED hired Magnify.net, a Video Curation and Publishing Platform, to view, rate and comment on the videos from July 17 to August 31, 2012. Magnify.net powered a website while YouTube hosted the content. TED maintained ultimate curation control by selecting the speakers, but the public ratings and feedback played a key role in determining who was invited. 

"What the TED team understands is that opening a process to audience input and feedback doesn't replace expert editorial and selection, it enhances it," said Steven Rosenbaum, CEO of Magnify.net. 

Are you allowing your attendees to view, rate and comment about potential speakers? Perhaps you start with surveying your attendees through Audience Response System rental units. Or your rent Tablet PCs or iPads and ask for ideas and comments via email or social backchannels. Or you create an online community and upload speaker videos and ask for feedback. Whatever method you use, in the end you are making attendees feel part of the speaker selection process, thus shifting the conference from yours to theirs, where it should have been all the while. 

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