TEDxWellington – DK and Hannah Wignall

In Curating, Producing by Mark Sylvester


The Hack: Take an action-based approach to your volunteers by renaming them Actioneers

DK and Hannah Wignall jointly run TEDxWellington and do they have a story to tell. This event has been going for five years, and in 2016 they decided to see how much their community trusted them. This strategy was rewarded when the tickets sold out in less than 2 minutes. Seriously.

The story of the 2016 TEDxWellington event is captivating. What the team did to make manifest the Trust theme is a compelling story. How they wove the elements together is intriguing and will give you many ideas. Imagine what you would do if an impossible-to-book venue were suddenly made available to you.

Look at the short reel they’ve put together to announce their 2017 show, Perspectives, and you’ll get a sense of how this team looks at things differently.

We used our theme of TRUST to drive every decision for the event.DK and Hannah

The Lightning Round

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

    DK initially spoke, then worked, at TEDxCardiff in his home country of South Wales, so when he moved to Wellington five years ago, he looked for a TEDx. To his surprise there wasn’t one, so he created one. He loves living in New Zealand.

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

    DK has attended at least 20 events since the original went to TEDxin Cardiff. Through meeting other organizers, he’s traveled to many events. They’re also part of a very tight community of all the organizers in New Zealand, they always leave free tickets for them. They also work with the Australian TEDx organizers as well.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    They have a traditional Maori ceremony to bless the stage and the event. They believe that 50% of the success is how the delegates feel when they enter the venue. The other 50% is the stage and speakers.It’s a long day, how do they make sure that there’s energy throughout the day. Hannah is in charge of the User Experience and puts herself in the shoes of the attendees to understand how they’re feeling at the end of each session and how to optimize the breaks.They had a fun activity for the delegates right after a somber talk about funerals. They’d set up a Kitten Petting Area, to put a smile on everyone’s face. Who doesn’t love to pet a kitty?

  • What’s your Superpower?

    For DK, it’s Producing, specifically producing speakers. For Hannah, it’s curating, as it pertains to curating the user experience.

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

    For DK, it’s that he keeps doing this event year after year. He thought he’d retire from active work long ago. For Hannah, it’s that the event production gets easier each year. This means that the stress associated with the event is much less.

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

    Sponsorship fatigue. Especially now five years later. They’ve got to be reaching out to new partners each year consistently. The island is only so big, right? However, they’ve developed a culture of trust, which helps them year over year.

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

    Change the language about your volunteers. We call them Actioneers. Everything is about ‘doing.’ All the time, effort and energy is devoted to doing things, not just meeting and talking.Don’t feel like you have to have all the talks be 18 minutes long. Consider 6-minute or 12-minute talks.Invite your past speakers to come back and help coach. Ok, that’s more than one.

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

    I won’t spoil the surprise of this story. Instead of looking forward, DK and Hannah look back at their 2016 event. The theme: Trust, was realized in one of the most unique stories you’ll hear on this show.

  • 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?

    Take an action-based approach to your volunteers by renaming them Actioneers. Oh, also, get some kittys.

TEDxWellington 2017 Theme Announcement

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