The Hack: Pay attention to doing something unique with your speakers
Mike Lundgren is a nine-year veteran of TEDxKC (Kansas City), having produced almost 40 events. His 2017 event sold out in four minutes. They enjoy one of the most spectacular venues for a TEDx, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. They entertain and inspire 3,000 people and have over 30 different activities for attendees at the massive afterparty.
Mike says they have amassed over 900 volunteers, with 70 who are super active on any given event. They have an intense focus on the user experience, thinking about before, during and after as touch points to pay attention to. Even in the fantastic venue of a performing arts center, no seat is more than 100 feet from the stage.
I love how Mike self-identifies as a ‘DJ of ideas.’ He also suggests they have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to creative input. His company VML has been the original sponsor and is one of the top Marketing firms in the region. They solve branding and communication problems for clients and pour all of that energy into TEDxKC each year. No wonder they sell out in four minutes.
We knew we had lightning in a bottle.”Mike Lundgren, Organizer
The Lightning Round
Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.
In 2008 he started watching TED talks on the internet, and the obsession began. He first produced a TEDx in Kansas City in 2009 and has done almost 40 events since then.
How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?
They have a Level 2 license and create a huge show. They do Live, Women, and Youth events including their annual event in August – a warm summer night in Kansas City provides a spectacular atmosphere for the after party.
What makes your TEDx unique?
This year they timed the event to coincide with the Total Lunar Eclipse. They also have both the main event and the simulcast in the same venue. They also sold out this year in 4 minutes.
What’s your Superpower?
Producing and Partnering. The core team at TEDxKC is only five people, and they rely on 70 super active volunteers out of a bench of 900 that has grown over the years.
What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?
How powerful and tight the community can be if you let it. “TEDx has become a big part of my life.”
Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?
The ticketing platform ends up crashing every server they’ve put it on.
What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?
Change your creative team every year.
Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?
(This was recorded before his August event). He’s looking forward to the speakers and what he calls Act III – over 30 elements comprise the activations at the after party.
What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?
The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?
Pay attention to doing something unique with your speakers. Remember this is the talk of their life. Finally, pick speakers who have something interesting to say.
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