(English) We created our own beehive

(English) We created our own beehive

We organized the first three years of TEDxBratislava at Heineken Tower Stage – a theater that we had become familiar with over the years. Unfortunately, it only seats 370 people and so, last year, when tickets sold like hotcakes, we decided it was time to move to a larger place.

We wanted to continue on a theater stage so in the end we were left with only one option – the Slovak National Theatre – with its large auditorium and foyer so important for our break activities. And as there are performances every Saturday until the end of June, we stood in front of a difficult decision: to move the date of TEDxBratislava from the last weekend in May to the first week of July.

A place where we could welcome 300 attendees more than in Heineken Tower Stage scared us. In the team we took turns to be suddenly awakened at night, panicking and thinking we would not manage. That was why we decided to take on new team members and extend this year’s team to 16 members. This caused confusion in communication at the beginning, but step by step we established perfect coordination and cooperation.

Registration started better than expected; on the first day 200 people registered. After this motivating kickoff, however, came a slow decline, which made us rather nervous about whether we were going to sell enough tickets to cover our budget. Therefore, we applied additional PR activities (e.g. started to post visual Quotables of our past speakers on FB, printed hard copy posters, asked bloggers to write about us) and a week before the event TEDxBratislava was sold out!

Each year we choose our own claim, and this year it was ”Beehive” and the idea of bees as a superorganism. We worked this theme into a lot of details – from graphic design, through break activities, all the way to the speakers, who referred to humanity as one big hive in their talks. Especially during the breaks you could hear some real buzzing in the theater; people took turns to participate in numerous break activities which we were able to organize thanks to the large space available to us.

This year we managed to prepare most of the speakers the way we always wanted. Receiving, reading and commenting on concepts, texts and presentations and the rehearsals the day before the event – it all bore its fruit. People responded positively especially to topics that are present in our daily lives – teaching mathematics by Milan Hejny, first aid presented by Viliam Dobias, menstruation as a taboo by Diana Fabiánová, or some simple steps to improve Slovakia, presented by Jakub Ptačin.

For us, the organizers, the day of the event was over way too fast. The initial tension continuously passed into enthusiasm when we saw that the participants were satisfied. The fact that we created something great, however, did not dawn on us until the afterparty, when people congratulated and thanked us for an inspiring day. We spent the whole of the following day reading positive feedback in blogs and articles in the media.

This year our cooperation with volunteers at the event worked perfectly, and we created a model that could also be followed by other events. We will certainly post a separate blog about it.

The new place for our event also brought many challenges which we did not anticipate. We had some technical difficulties and we know we have to focus on this area more next year.  The big number of staff also meant we should have counted with more food, so we also learned a lesson from this. And there were other small imperfect details that mostly we – the organizers – know about, and which, fortunately, did not spoil the experience for our attendees.

We were afraid, but we came out of our comfort zone and made our dream come true. We brought TEDxBratislava to 650 attendees. We presented great and inspiring people, many of whom our participants had not heard of before. We created our own beehive with ideas worth spreading in its center.

You can find the pictures from all our events on Flickr. And this was the atmosphere at TEDxBratislava last year – this year, it was exactly the same.

We want to say many thanks to TED organizers for enabling people from around the world to make their own TED-like event. And if any TEDx organizers still hesitate whether their TEDx should grow, we have just one piece of advice: Trust your guts. If you made it work on a small scale, you will make it work on a bigger scale too.