One typical morning last September I was sitting on one of the leather couches at Bard Coffee, engrossed in a book. A woman who was sitting on an adjacent couch struck up a conversation with me, which I always appreciate. We talked about her new business and the book she was then reading. She mentioned that she was excited to be attending a TEDxDirigo conference. I knew TED, and I knew TEDx, but I was not familiar with TEDxDirigo. I had to be part of it, so as soon as I was able I sent an email to the organizers and volunteered my services.
Because of my eagerness and my experience volunteering at PopTech, I think, they asked me to help set and strike the stage and assist the speakers. It was a wonderful opportunity. Apparently I did an okay job, because this year they asked me to take on a larger role. The answer, of course, was an enthusiastic yes.
For the TEDxDirigo Engage event this past weekend I was responsible for aggregating the Keynote presentations from each of the speakers into a single presentation for each of the three sessions.
I attended the planning meetings leading up to the conference, and was thrilled to be working with people I really liked and admired. We were all dedicated to creating the best event possible.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the speaker’s presentations trickled in, then poured. I tweaked, ordered, retweaked, and reordered slides based on schedule flow and changes to the talks. I was grateful to bring my unique skill set to TEDxDirigo.
One of the most rewarding parts of TEDxDirigo Engage is that Adam Burk asked me if Skye would run the speaker timer. What a perfect fit! It was great to have her there, working beside me and basking in the energy that is TEDx.
Rehearsals were Friday. Each of the speakers gave their talk to an empty house at USM’s Hannaford Lecture Hall while the tech crew worked out the lighting and sound. The speakers were given constructive ways to improve their talks, both substance and presentation. This resulted in more changes to their slides, which I gladly made.
Saturday morning Skye and I arrived early and went through last minute checks and adjustments. We sat in the back of the house with our computers, wires, flashlights and an iPad. I had my schedule, covered in scribbles from rehearsals. A couple of the speakers had last-minute changes to their slides, or striked them completely.
When the house was full and the lights went down, the preparation was over and it was time for the show. The only problem we experienced was that the projector reset during the first session because of overheating. John left the door to the booth open the remainder of the day and we did not experience that again. The speaker clicker worked flawlessly and I cycled the slides on schedule. It was a beautiful thing. Justin called the show masterfully.
During the session breaks I was usually busy prepping for the next session, but Skye was able to go into the foyer and mingle with guests, which absolutely thrilled her. She told me about the interesting conversations she was having with amazing people. After the final session she introduced herself to Representative Chellie Pingree, with whom she had a nice conversation. I was super happy for her.
When the show was over and the after-party done, we headed to the Maine Magazine offices on Market Street in the Old Port for a VIP party with the organizers and speakers. It was fantastic to be able to hand out with the amazing TEDxDirigo team in a social setting without any kind of pressure or stress or to-do items.
During the party I looked across the room and saw Skye talking to Claire Hirschmann, who founded The Field Academy. I went over and joined their conversation. Claire is an incredibly bright, inspiring and passionate person. We talked about education and The Field Academy, then she told us great stories about the Harvard Museum of Natural History (one of my very favorite places). She and Skye really connected, which made me incredibly happy. They are planning on spending some time together, which is wonderful.
Unfortunately, the fall conference of TEDxDirigo, Villages, is on the same day as PopTech, so I won’t be able to participate. I’m deeply disappointed, but there’s not a lot to be done about it. I hope they’ll have me back in some capacity next year.
Videos of the talks will be available soon. I’ll watch them all. Again.
For more photos from the TEDxDirigo conference, visit the TEDxDirigo Flickr photostream.