Did you miss the second installment of TEDx Columbia College Chicago? Are you interested in being a leader for the event next year? Join us in this interview with one of the event organizers, Amanda Gatt, as she fills us in on her experience with the project.
Can you give us a quick overview of the event?
In the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program helps communities, organizations and individuals produce TED-style events at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis, under a free license from TED. At TEDx events, a combination of TED Talks videos and live presenters and performers are organized to spark deep conversations and connections at the local level.
What was your biggest takeaway as an organizer and facilitator?
I cannot express how imperative it is to build strong professional relationships with those whom you are collaborating with. As the Speakers Director, my position entailed securing and staying in contact with the speakers and performers for the live event. This meant that I needed to create a level of trust with each speaker and performer, in order to curate the best possible talks and performances. I was fortunate in that those we secured were nothing but personable, hard-working, and passionate about spreading their ideas to the greater Chicago community. Working with these individuals continuously inspired me to organize and facilitate an outstanding TEDx event, which motivated me to also build strong relationships with everyone involved on the TEDx team. Making this conscious effort resulted in minimal confusion and collaborative teamwork, which resulted in producing a remarkable event.
What collaboration opportunities did you take advantage of within the CCC community to host the TEDx talk?
As a student organization, we had the advantage of collaborating with several departments to elevate the live and livestream events beyond our original conceptions. This included working with the Xerox Center to print our programs, partnering with the Theatre Design Department to ensure all of our production needs were met, uniting with Frequency TV to broadcast the entirety of the event for those unable to attend, joining forces with the Student Organization Council (SOC) for booking non-local speaker accommodations and assisting with all of our financing, and the Digital Print Center for fulfilling our remaining last-minute print jobs. Individuals that were especially of help include Jacki Licciardi, April Little, Cat Brommels, Dayle Matchett, Marc Chevalier, Grant Sabin, and Josef Szaday.
What support did you receive from the college and the department?
Dr. Kim and Columbia College have been nothing but supportive of advancing the legacy of TEDx on Columbia’s campus. Through a very generous donation, we were able to expand beyond the capacity of our original projected budget. This played a pivotal role in securing an equal mix of local and non-local speakers, ensuring that our TEDx event was spreading the highest caliber of ideas to the Columbia and greater-Chicago communities. Our faculty advisor was Bobby Biedrzycki, who was always available when needed throughout the entirety of producing the event. Robert Blandford was also of great assistance, particularly with giving curatorial advice and overall moral support for myself and those on the TEDx team that were Business & Entrepreneurship graduate students.
Anything else you want to share for prospective students and students interested in organizing future TEDx Talks?
TED is an internationally-known brand. Having a license to host a TEDx conference at Columbia College is a wonderful opportunity that B&E graduate students should be taking advantage of and becoming involved with. Regardless of your desired industry, this event allows students to become a part of something bigger than oneself. It’s motivating, inspiring, and challenging all at once, and I hope to encounter another TED or TEDx experience in my future career endeavors.