TEDxMidAtlantic – Craig Fifer – Green Room Manager

In Curating by Mark Sylvester

The Hack: Project a calm, cool demeanor


Craig Fifer has a great job. He runs the team that manages the Green Room at TEDxMidAtlantic. Now, you’re thinking, how hard can that be? Well, he’s three floors away from the stage, has to make sure 49 people make it to the stage, on time, and needs a team of volunteers to help. He loves it so much; he’s going into his sixth year on the team.

I met Craig at TEDfest and was amazed when he told me what he did at TEDxMidAtlantic. I’d heard how amazing the event was and here was a chance to get a behind the scene glimpse into the event. His day job is as the Director of Communications and Information for the City of Alexandria, and each year, he volunteers his time to manage this critical part of an expansive puzzle. You can learn more about TEDxMidAtlantic from our interview with Dave Troy, the organizer.

Craig says his real job is to make sure the speakers are the best versions of themselves when they hit the red circle. Funny enough, the second biggest job is to ensure that they find the stage. Remember, the green room is three floors away.

The image above is some of the 100 volunteers on stage at the 2016 event.

This job is half psychology and half logistics” Craig Fifer, Green Room Manager, TEDxMidAtlantic

The Lightning Round

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

    He attended TEDxMidAtlantic in 2011 as an attendee and on the back of the program was a call for volunteers. In 2013 he stepped up to take a lead role, and the rest is, why you want to listen to this episode

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

    Four conferences, two Salons. There’s typically 35-40 speakers and 10-15 in the Salons.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    The amount of attention that his team pays towards the speakers. There’s a volunteer at Registration, waiting for them, then they’re cared for from that minute until they walk on, then eventually off the stage. He explains that the job is intensely psychological and that each speaker has different needs, that he and the team have to tune in to, to be successful.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Curating. His ability to understand the psychology of the speakers extends to, are they chatty, silent, do they want to talk about the talk, or be left alone – and a hundred variations of so many emotions.

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

    Every speaker is nervous. Every one. No matter how seasoned they are. TEDxMidAtlantic is famous for its prominent speakers.

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

    Losing track of where a speaker has wandered off to. The dragon for a majority of speakers is that they all feel like they’re not ready for their talk. This is the number one fear for them. He reminds speakers: “the Audience is rooting for you!”

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

    Make sure your speakers get VIP treatment

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

    All of them, but mostly Slovenia (http://www.tedxljubljana.com/) and TEDxNovosibirsk in Siberia

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

    To help your speakers be the best version of themselves, you need to stay calm and relaxed. You want to exude confidence. Your demeanor will rub off on other people.

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