How I brought TEDx to my university?
Just in case you have not read about how TEDxUSMC started out to be, click on the following link to have a quick glance of my last blog post. I promise it won’t take long.
Speaking of kickstarting a student initiative, I really believe that it is the motives behind – ‘the whys’ that matter the most. Grouping up enthusiastic people that share the same or similar visions is just as important as making sure that they commit throughout the preparation stages. As the lead organizer of TEDxUSMC, I would love to share some of my personal insights regarding what makes a successful TEDx event.
What are the notable things that I think should be done by the Lead Organizer to ensure the success of the event?
Speaking as the lead organiser of the event, the best decision that I have made is that of getting a co-organiser in the first place. Engineering degree is surely not the most forgiving course a student can enrol in, and the academics as well as the tight schedule can be daunting sometimes (most of the time!). As a student, especially an engineering student, I would not have been able to cope with all the workload without the co-organiser. Conflicts are bound to happen though, in fact, the more serious you are about making the event a success, the more frequent the conflicts will happen! But then again, having another bright mind working with you, making sure that all the details are being taken care of can bring the quality of the event to a whole new level, after all, your main goal as lead organiser is to ensure the success of the event. Based on my experience, the frustrations of being in conflicts with my co-organiser was worth it given the amount of times that we got each other’s back covered.
Also, I made sure that each of the executive committee has read and understood the TEDx rules even before they started to plan for the event. I made it crystal clear to them that they should keep each other reminded of the rules from time to time as the outcome of not following the rules would be disastrous.
Managing a team of leaders was not an easy task, and it never will be. Throughout the organizing process, conflicts happened, minor or major, and they were normally caused by a difference in ideas and plans between executive committee. I did my best to be a middleman and evaluate each of their standpoints from their perspectives before making the final decision, if the need arose. The hardest part of this is to balance between the most correct decision and most wanted outcome, if possible. My way of tackling this issue is to prioritise tasks that require higher deciding power and leave the ‘easy’ decision makings to the executive committee themselves. This leads to the next notable point – time management.
By granting a decent amount of freedom to the executive committee, they are encouraged to be leaders, make decisions on their own without much intervention from the organisers and take ownerships of their responsibilities. This saved the organisers a lot of time and brain power, which would then be occupied with other more important decision makings, for example, choosing the content for the event. From this I learned that a leader with no more than needed decisions to make is a happy leader!
No one loves long, dreadful meeting. In my opinion, meetings need to be long enough to be informative but short enough to be effective. I suggest that different types of meetings are conducted to serve different purposes. For instance, organiser meeting, Ex-Co meeting and departmental meeting. Throughout the four-month-time of the preparation stages of TEDxUSMC, we had plenty of short, departmental meetings and less than 10 long Ex-Co meetings. Short meetings are for quick decision makings and to catalyse the execution of certain tasks. Long meetings are to focus on the harder decisions and the exchange of information across the executive committee so that they can gauge the team’s progress, which is very important to me because I believe that progress is the best form of motivation.
It is certain that the team will need to work together via physical meetups as well as online platform from time to time. With the relatively good network connection around these days, online collaborations are made much easier, until they are not. Interacting with a bunch of people in a bunch of WhatsApp groups in which all the titles start with ‘TEDxUSMC’ is very difficult, it is especially so when people decide to joke about their personal lives and double the difficulty to get the intended ideas across the team! It is crucial, if not the most significant, to make sure that everyone in the team understands how being specific in all matters can really be a time- and energy-saver.
As part of the curation team, I helped with the curation process such as conducting interview with the potential speakers, going through every single word in the speakers’ scripts and giving suggestions on the content of the scripts to the speakers. Curator sure is the most crucial position among all as this person helps to decide on content that would make a TEDx event truly a TEDx event. From what I have experienced, becoming a curator is also educational. I needed to be able to think critically from various point-of-views as to create an impactful and delightful piece of content for the audience. And that means a lot of discussion, reading and researching prior to the curation. Here I would like to give a huge credit to all the curators involved in this event for squeezing their brains to their full capacities. My ultimate suggestion for a TEDx event organiser in forming a curation team is never form a team of even number.
Last but not least, I would like to emphasise on flexibility, a must-have trait for the lead organiser of any TEDx event. The lead organiser must know their stuff and be clear about what is going on and make decisions based on the situation he or she is dealing with. For instance, the lead organiser should be resilient enough to deal with last minute changes, which are bound to happen, without becoming too frustrated and losing cool. Of course, I am not saying that the rules are meant to be broken, yet it is undeniably true that sometimes we need to do what is needed to be done to work around an issue. As the licensee/lead organiser of a TEDx event, your priority should always be making the success of the event a reality!
What I could have done better to make the event more successful?
If I were to organize another TEDxUSMC event next year, I would start the whole preparation process several months earlier as I could tell that the executive team was barely surviving with only that much time in their hands to prepare for the event, let alone catching up with their studies. This leads me into thinking that I was extremely lucky to have recruited capable people that can make a success of the event, even under time constraints.
Moreover, I learned that the devil is in the detail. I wish that I had looked into more details so that I could avoid the last-minute hassle of getting the public liability insurance as well as the equipment needed. My team and I should also have tested the live video broadcasting in length beforehand so that our online viewer could enjoy the show without being interrupted.
Punctuality really matters, though a large portion of Malaysians thinks the otherwise. People always seem to pay tribute to the ‘Malaysian timing’ and make it an excuse for their unpunctuality. But let’s not whine about it, instead, start by correcting your view on being punctual and be punctual when you are attending a certain meeting or event next time. After all, you would not want your team to be late to the meeting, would you?
Phew! Sorry for the long post, I hope you are still following me.
Before you go, there is something that I want you to consider. I have been learning non-stop throughout this TEDx endeavour. It has helped me to develop myself in many ways and even make new friends! If you think that you would be interested in organizing the next TEDxUSMC event and enjoy the fruitful outcome, this is the link to the TEDx Organizer Guide: https://www.ted.com/participate/organize-a-local-tedx-event/tedx-organizer-guide
Please do not hesitate to contact anyone from the team should you have any inquiries. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more upcoming events: https://www.facebook.com/tedxusmc/
I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the Executive team as well as the volunteers for making this event possible. A special credit to Jeremy Weber for proofreading all my writings.
Also, a special thank you to Dr. Jo-Han Ng, who is our TEDxUSMC advisor for guiding us through this wonderful journey.
TEDxUSMC’s photo booth located at the main entrance of the event venue.
Being an introvert (partly), it was a lot of self-doubt that I needed to face to become the lead organizer of the first ever TEDx event in the region, though it did not stop me from taking the exciting course of bringing ‘Ideas worth spreading’ to my community. My name is Yew Jun Ying and I am a Mechanical Engineering Year 2 student at University of Southampton Malaysia Campus (USMC).
How everything started out to be?
Somewhere between April to June 2017, I came up with the idea of bringing TEDx platform to our university. At that time, I did not consider that seriously but instead just thought of it as something cool and beneficial to the community here. Things did not change much until the co-organiser going-to-be, Lian Ming (Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering Year 2 student) and I chatted about how amazing TED and TEDx platforms are. Both of us being really fired-up in growing the community in EduCity, Iskandar Puteri, we decided to make the event happen. We started doing research on the application process and went through lengthy online documents (i.e. TEDx rules and organiser guide) specifically designed for TEDx organiser newbies. Having the basic knowledge of how the event will be organised, we started filling up the application form with our ideas including the reasons why we are keen to organise a TEDx event and our choices of TED videos that are going to be featured.
The completion of the application form only came several weeks after our first discussion as the form was quite tedious to fill up and we were both busy with our summer internships. We submitted the form, sat for a TEDx rules online test and eventually, had a quick interview with a TEDx Licensing Associate from TED. I was pretty nervous during the interview, luckily, Lian Ming delivered our ideas effectively and saved the day. Two weeks went by and we have successfully gotten the license to organise a TEDx university event. And this is how the event started out to be.
How did the organisers recruit the executive team and what are the qualities that they valued the most?
Lian Ming and I had many organiser meetings and face-to-face discussion sessions to exchange ideas before we thought about recruiting the executive team. Having some prior event organizing experience, both of us totally agreed with each other that it is crucial to form a solid team to ensure smooth execution of the event. We also learnt from other experienced TEDx organisers that we should prioritise someone that has the same vision as we had. We agreed.
We were ready to make an impact. We blasted out a TEDxUSMC Executive Team Recruitment form and got responses from many enthusiastic applicants. After interviewing each of the applicants, we really had a hard time deciding the successful applicants. We considered what they had to offer based on their application forms and interviews during the decision stage. In the end, we agreed upon getting those with remarkable skills such as excellent English command, software design experience, filming, workshop experience, etc.
The almighty Executive Team has been formed! Followed by that was the first ever Ex-Co meeting where I briefed about the event that we are organizing and all the rules that they need to know before starting to do anything. TEDxUSMC has got its backbone and is now ready to go!
Group photo of the TEDxUSMC Executive team.
Alright! I guess that is enough information for now before you start to think of your next meal.
Here is some good stuff for you. If you are interested in what happened during the event on 2nd December 2017, check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tedxusmc/
Also, if leadership and event management sound like your kind of things and you would like to gain more insights into how the event was organized, stay tuned for my next blog post that will be coming up next week!
Till next time.
Trailing from that was the networking session. The session consisted of a few exhibitors ranging from students displaying their projects to speakers proudly presenting their work.
Everyone can be seen mingling around with the companionship of mouth watering red velvet cakes, and delicious Belgium chocolate brownies. I spoke to John, who is an international student from Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NuMed). As John said: “The networking session was beyond expectation. Speakers are definitely great especially Nadia and Santa!” Santa had also shared with me about his QTPi project and a book that he had written titled “She: Ekla Cholo Re”. The book is about searching for one’s identity in spite of all odds, and as informed, the book itself will soon be released as a movie! The networking session was engaging as I got a few new contacts and also feedback from everyone that attended.
Attendees were then ushered to the auditorium, as something exciting was about to happen! The performers for the day, Classmates, were ready to give a live performance. Though being a local pop punk band, they had interesting instruments involving a violin and a classical guitar. Everyone was cheering, as the performance was really outstanding.
Following from the alluring musical, our next speaker was Ivan Ling, our very own PhD student from USMC as he gave a talk about nanotechnology. He started his research with the mindset of saving the planet. Ivan explained that common sensors operates with heat that requires power, leading to extraction of fuel that pollutes Mother Earth. In which case, he developed a sensor that operates in room temperature, where there is no need for an external heat source, hence saving the world. Kudos to Ivan for his research which maybe in nano scale, but it is the workload, effort and energy that he has put into his passion that contributes a lot to the world.
Last but not least was a speaker with a friendly smile, USMC’s very own Lyn Cacha. Lyn spoke about the importance of personal branding. To create a strong personal brand, one has to be bold, genuine and authentic. It is perfectly fine to showcase failures, as all successors were failures once. She had given a few examples on how personal branding can be ruined with the emphasis that social media is one’s hearing aid and not one’s microphone. Lyn ended her talk with a question for the audience: “How do you want people to remember you?”
The talks for today was definitely impactful for me as Nadia talked about her struggles that lead to her motivation, Eddie’s speech regarding on the importance of having a purpose and Lyn’s emphasise on the importance of personal branding. A token of appreciation was handed to all the speakers, performers and our very own advisor, Dr Jo-Han Ng as a thank you note. Jeremy wrapped up the event by thanking everyone that was involved in making the event a successful one.
After the closing ceremony, the members of TEDxUSMC stayed back for a group photo with the companion of the speakers, to keep and savour as a long lasting memory. Being a part of the TEDxUSMC community was a personal experience that was priceless. Though there were ups and down while creating this event, I learnt the meaning of teamwork and gained inspiration from the speakers themselves. Once again, congratulations to everyone that was involved as we successfully created history! The success of TEDxUSMC’s first ever live event, which was also the first TEDx event in Iskandar, Puteri! This may be our first but it will certainly not be our last!
As the alarm buzzed continuously, I stretched my hand to reach out for my phone. The screen displayed: 6:40 am – Saturday, 2nd December. I jumped out of bed and dashed into the bathroom to get myself ready. Why? Well, TEDxUSMC’s first ever main event is happening today!
Late night sleeps, countless meetings, blood and sweat of every member all comes down to this very event as the members of TEDxUSMC gather in the auditorium for a final briefing. At approximately 8am, speakers started arriving as they prepared themselves mentally for the big day. “Testing 1…2…3…Testing.” There was a final check on the sound system before the commencement of the event.
As my wristwatch displayed 9am, attendees can be seen gradually arriving as they approached the registration counter. Upon arriving, attendees were given a gift bag and a “cross” memo to be put onto the photobooth. The photobooth became a masterpiece as a contribution from all the crosses that had names, signature and notes written by everyone. Assigned ushers then lead the attendees to their respective seats.
The opening of the ceremony began as our emcee with his confidence approach, Jeremy, steps up on stage and proceeds to explain the aim of TEDxUSMC. The curators of TEDxUSMC realised that the people in our local society, especially the students, are bright and brilliant but unfortunately, not all have yet to find their purpose in life. With the hope of changing the mindset of not having a direction in life, the theme for the event was born: “Our True Selves and Purpose”.
Our first speaker for the day was Nadia Hasbi with her bright colourful leggings. Nadia is the founder and CEO of fitrebel.com, which was famously featured in many renowned publications. Yes, she may be successful now, but life wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine. Along the way, she lost her fiancé; her business went downhill and most importantly, Nadia lost her beloved father. Exercise was her healing remedy and that is how fitrebel.com started. Nadia conveyed three important messages to the audience, follow your curiosity, your intentions matter and the little things in life are significant. It was impactful as she shared her hardships and aspiration that changed her life.
The next speaker for the day was Santa Santosh Avvannavar. Santa’s speech was inspiring as he talked about having dreams and shared the 6 success career mantras that he has gathered. “Don’t forget that people will break your dreams like how I break yours.” Since young, his father had taught him the meaning of hardships and that not everything will go according to plan, but that is not an excuse to raise the white flag. The six career success mantras that Santa had generously shared were the importance of writing skills, presentation skills, communication skills, specialisation, internships and other academic activities. His talk was engaging and comical as the audience laughed to his jokes.
I glanced at my watch as my stomach was growling, begging for food, it was lunchtime. Attendees and speakers were ushered to the dining area, as a buffet lunch was prepared. Hungry attendees could be seen devouring the delicious food while some approached the speakers and committee members of TEDxUSMC as they socialised.
After the lunch break, most audience with their utterly full stomachs felt lethargic. To amp up the atmosphere, Jeremy gave the audience a little bit of a brainteaser, a TED-ED riddle. This activity got people’s mind cracking as they tried to solve the given riddle. Instantly, the crowd regained their energy once again!
Following from the engaging riddle, our third speaker for the event was Dr. Henry Chan. Dr. Henry shared his personal journey as he embarked to the rural part of Sarawak. His heart broke when he learned from the people that the beautiful forest would be deforested for future development. To overcome this issue, he joined WWF and collaborated with Heart of Borneo (HOB). He ended his speech with a note that it is everyone’s responsibility to replenish Mother Earth. It can be seen that Dr. Henry has a passion and that was towards saving nature.
Eddie Woo was our next speaker for the day. Eddie is currently in the training industry working in Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad. He had summarised his speech into three main parts of what one should do. Firstly, it is about seizing all opportunities given. Secondly, Eddie emphasises on giving a meaning to whatever you do. Lastly was to repeat the first and second pieces of advice. What impacted me most during his speech was one particular sentence, which goes: “The more YES you say today, the more NO you will say in the future. Do we live by choice or do we live by chance?” Eddie and Dr. Henry’s speeches certainly were significant as they shared the importance of giving purpose to one’s action.
Stay tuned for part 2!
A week has passed since TEDxUSMC launched their first ever salon event. The theme for the event was ‘Seeing the Invisible’. I recalled having first seen the poster of the event. What had intrigued me was the theme. What did it mean by ‘Seeing The Invisible’? How can a human being view something that was imperceptible in the very first place? And from there on, my curiosity signed me up for the event.
17th November arrived. Tonight was the night where I would be able to see the ‘Invisible’. Registration started at 7:45pm and the event room gradually filled up with people. When the participants registered, they received a unique door gift. It was a wooden engraved keychain that had the event’s theme on the front and a personalised name on the back. I knew the event would go well just by the details the committee put into the gifts.
As the guests had all arrived, up came the host for the event, Jeremy with his smart look and soothing voice that caught the eyes and ears of the attendees. The event started with a video by Scott Geller with the title “The Psychology of Self Motivation”. Following from the video, participants were then ushered out of the room and one by one were once again brought back into a pitch-black room.
In a room full of darkness and unrecognisable group mates, we were told to have a deep psychological discussion. The topic ranged from our motivation factors to what our past looked like and what hopes do we have for the future. A few participants got immersed into the topic where they shared their past while others gave encouragement to those who were too shy to open up. The discussion was impactful, as I finally understood what it meant to see the ‘invisible’. The inspiration that gets one to work harder, the fears that pulled them back, the struggles that one had to overcome and the desire that one dreamt about.
Refreshments were then served after the discussion activity as the room was filled with lights again. During the break, participants could be seen socialising while devouring sandwiches and orange juice.
Right after refreshments, we were then seated as a video titled ‘Draw Your Future’ by Patti Dobrowolski was broadcast to us. Inspired by the video, there were a few coloured pens, pencils and papers on every group’s table. Participants were encouraged to draw their dream future. Our host, Jeremy had showed us his drawing as he talked about having a dream career working in the Formula 1 industry. Others shared their dream about getting a nice body or a luxurious car while some had the desire to be an entrepreneur. I drew airplanes on the paper, as I want to travel around the world, learning the cultures of different people. Our drawings of our dream future were then collected, as the committee would like to make a mosaic to mark the very first TEDxUSMCSalon event.
After all the impactful videos and engaging activities, Jeremy then proceeded to wrap up the event. I went back to my room, feeling enlightened. I finally understood what it meant by ‘Seeing The Invisble’. Though with only a short span of two hours, the event was fun and sentimental. Now, I have to patiently wait for the main event that is coming in December.
That’s all for now. See everyone again at the main event!
The scorching hot sun shined over Johor Bahru, as its residents awoke to a new day. Amid all this, I was getting myself ready for today’s event. I am Priscilla, blogger for TEDxUSMC, and on this day, I attended my very first TEDx event hosted by TEDxSungaiSegget.
The theme of the event was ‘Connect’. There is a belief where there are connections in every individual, as connections can be deliberate or involuntary. Such theme carries great responsibility and I knew that today’s event would be impactful. The event was held at the stunning Amari Hotel, Johor Bahru.
Bangsa Johor started the opening of the event with a dramatic performance. The performance was diverse and unique as all three main groups of Malaysia, the Malay, Chinese and Indians were involved. The show had portrayed the importance of unity. Up stepped the emcee of the event, Nico. His charisma and soothing voice caught the attendees’ attention as he proceeds to introduce our first speaker of the day, Dr Chua Sook Ning.
Dr Chua is known for being the founder of Relate Malaysia. Her talk on depression and methods of combatting the crippling illness captivated every member of the audience. Citing her own battle through depression, Dr. Chua’s talk really hit home and made us all feel ‘Connected’.
Next speaker was the founder of Tanoti, Jacqueline Fong. Her talk on Songket – a traditional woven gift – showed us the artistic side of how we can ‘Connect’. Following Jacqueline’s talk, our lunch was served. It was here that I truly understood the meaning of ‘Connect’. With the companionship of mouthwatering food, everyone got to spend time together chatting away about our own lives outside of work and studies. This allowed us to bond as a team, an invaluable experience.
Right after lunch, we were greeted by Rohith Govindan, whose discussed making music a bridge to connect everyone. His engaging methods of involving the audience into his performance alongside a traditional Indian musical instrument, Tabla, lifted the mood of the event once again.
Following this musical interlude, Lisa Foo spoke about her involvement in an ASEAN bamboo installation known as “Konstruk” which was displayed at Puteri Harbour. I have seen her artworks in person as I recall my emotions when I first set my eyes on them, awed, shocked and amazed.
We were then given time to network with other attendees. During this time, I get to know interesting people from different backgrounds. Everyone can be seen mingling with each other in order to get connected. Later, the proceeding 5th speaker introduces himself as Navin Binwani, where he presented the Biji-Biji initiative and teaching the public the benefits of recycling.
Last but not least was Johan Arifin Mohd Ropi, our final speaker of the day. Johan is the proud founder of Kilang Bateri. He talks about reinvigorating the older and forgotten parts of Johor Bahru as a fresh start for the elderly as well as the new, younger generation.
After the memorable event, I truly realized what it means to ‘Connect’. Furthermore, it can be seen that the crew of TEDxSungaiSegget worked miraculously well to ensure the event went smoothly. Thank you TEDxSungaiSegget for being such a great host! TEDxPetalingStreet, you’re up next!