Making comparisons may not be fair but we routinely do. Previous experiences raise expectations but future events have the advantage of learning from the past. Which is better?
In this case, we're looking at two volunteer-run, non-profit TEDx events. If you're new to TED and TEDx, here's a primer and a summary of TEDxToronto, my first TEDx event.
Both events could have been very similar but weren't. By extension, you can give your events their own niche or personality too. Here are examples.
FocusThe two events had different focuses (foci?). TEDxToronto had a corporate feel and was much like a professionally run conference.
TEDxIBYork had an educational orientation. Many attendees were students in an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Try spelling that five times fast without a spelling checker!
IB provides a higher level of high school education and has standardized exams in grade 12. The US Advanced Placement (AP) program also provides enriched education. The York School has a private IB program and hosted the TEDx event.
AdmissionTEDxToronto was free (including lunch) and took place in downtown Toronto in the Glen Gould Studio. Thanks sponsors!
TEDxIBYork also had sponsors but charged for tickets to cover costs($75 for students and $100 for adults). The talks took place in the auditorium of the spacious Ontario Science Centre. Admission included breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Anyone could go to TEDxIBYork but TEDxToronto required an application. Maybe that's why everyone at TEDxToronto knew what TED was. At TEDxIBYork, the adults I spoke to rarely knew!?! They attended because of their children.
Each system has merits. I'd prefer to pay money and be assured of admission.
SharingTEDxToronto encouraged attendees to give live updates via Twitter. That's the norm at many events, including Third Tuesday (see Dell's flubbed opportunity from last week). TEDxIBYork banned electronics. Maybe that's because students were attending?
SeatingAt TEDxToronto, you could keep the same seat for the whole day, and most did. At TEDxIBYork, you were forced to find a new spot after each break. Since both venues were fairly intimate, both approaches work. I prefer a fixed seat near the front.
The Big DifferenceTEDxToronto had two celebrity hosts but they didn't have much to do since speaker introductions were pre-recorded. In the afternoon, one left but this didn't matter.
TEDxIBYork had one host, David Newland. I've seen too many MCs over the years and he's the best. He truly was part of the event, rather than an interjection like a commercial break. He worked from a thick stack of index cards. There may have been major mishaps behind the scenes but we never knew since the day flowed so smoothly for us. David was low-key but witty. He spoke like a late night radio announcer, but kept us captivated and alert (reminiscent of Augusta LaPaix on Brave New Waves).
I thought David had practiced for ages. Not true. He volunteered mere days earlier when the original host quit. I didn't appreciate the value of exceptional hosting before.
Which Is Better?Do you see how there are enough differences between TEDxIBYork and TEDxToronto? Attending both is ideal and that's my plan for next time.
- TEDxIBYork and TEDxToronto (official sites)
- TED to TEDx to TEDxToronto
- Highlights from TEDxToronto
- How the CIRA AGM became interesting
- Flubs in a seminar with a $500,000 ticket
- Should you get a sponsor for your event?
- Why do Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey use overhead transparencies?
PS Visit ted.com on your next coffee or lunch break for ideas worth spreading.