University Innovation Fellow Jack Goodwin shares 10 tips on how to hold a TEDx: "How we went from nothing to more than $35k in funding, 500 attendees and 18 top-notch speakers in only one year."

Jack Goodwin (front left) and his team for TEDxUCSD in 2013.

By Jack Goodwin, University Innovation Fellow, University of California San Diego
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Well, I should probably start by saying that it wasn’t easy. Creating a TEDx event is no simple process, and creating one at a university doesn’t make it any less difficult. It is said that the best things in life don’t come easily and that is no less true here. There will be barriers of all types to overcome, no doubt, but one thing remains clear: people are TEDx’s most valuable asset. Once you inspire great minds around ideas worth spreading, everything else will follow. Here are 10 short and sweet guidelines on how to hold a TEDx university event, in order of priority.

1. Secure the TEDx license: Apply early and make sure you are not infringing on any school naming policies. This can be a very back a forth process, but without the rights to hold an event, it will never happen. Try to plan for a Saturday that is not a holiday and not the week before finals. Saturday is best in most communities because there is no school and no church, as TEDx events are typically quite long.

2. Form the organizing team: Select the size of the event you want (ie number of attendees, funding needed to run the event) and then base the size and commitment level of your team from there. Our event finished with 17 undergraduate students on the organizing team split into four subdivisions. This is excluding the university officials we worked very close with. Many other teams may include the efforts of graduate students or even full time employees within or outside of the university itself, so play accordingly. The three essential university officials for us took on the roles of legal advice, fiscal advice and then someone connected with the donors of the university. These will be absolutely key figures moving forward.

3. Secure the venue: We started searching 9 months in advance and we were already too late to hold our TEDx event on campus. We ended up at the fanciest place possible, a Fortune 500 company presentation hall located off-campus, but it took massive amounts of legal paperwork to get the okay from both the university and the company. Start the search early and do whatever you have to do to pay the venue holding deposit, including taking out a university loan in the name of your (hopefully) registered TEDx, campus-affiliated group.

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