TEDxAmsterdam – Paul Rispens

In Collaborating, Organizing by Mark Sylvester


The Hack:
Fill baskets for attendees with buttons they can wear to identify something about themselves.

Have fun with it.

I'd been looking forward to posting this conversation with TEDxAmsterdam's organizer Paul Rispens for some time now. I'd heard such great things about the event, and it's on the list of TEDx events other organizers would like to attend. Paul has been involved with TEDx since 2009 and works with a core team of 30. This episode is a lively conversation with someone who believes that their event is a perfect blending of the best of TED with the best of Amsterdam.

I thought it was interesting that they have six people on their partner team, 12 on communications, five curating and working with speakers, and 4 focused on the user experience. Paul says he spends two days a week, full time on the event in the months coming up to the show.

He talks about an interesting thing they did at the end of the 2017 show, which was a surprisingly light closing ceremony. It was to support the idea of 'big questions.' Listen as he explains how it all worked. It sounds like it was a fantastic experience if you were in that beautiful theater.

Paul is gearing up for the 10th edition of their show. Look at the TEDxAmsterdam website to get a sense of the excitement. They are going to mix the best of the best from the past ten years. With 850 attendees expected, this is going to be a memorable event.

Make it a full day from beginning to end - one day of enjoyment, being surprised with all kinds of experiences. Paul Rispens, Organizer, TEDxAmsterdam

The Lightning Round

  • Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.

    TEDxAmsterdam was founded in 2009 by Jim Stoltze, with four people on the board. Paul was one of them and is now the lead organizer.

  • How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?

    Too many to count. This event has connections with all of the Netherland TEDx events. It's a small country, and they all know one another.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    They love the animations that are created for the event. They also contributed the intro movies for the TEDxSummit in Doha.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Organizing and Collaborating

  • What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?

    This was an interesting conversation. Let's say that it has to do with leveling up from a Level Two event.

  • Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?

    Coming up with genuinely new content each year. The team askes themselves, "What can we do that surprises our guests even more?"

  • What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?

    Refresh your team. They change out team members, 50-60% each year. "New blood is great."

  • Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?

    The 10th edition of the event - it's going to be amazing

  • What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?

    TEDxSingapore, TEDxHongKong and really, any TEDx in Asia

  • The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?

    Fill baskets with buttons that attendees can pick 4 or 5 to wear that express what they think. Make them feel welcomed to the event.

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