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8 Min Read

Conference Content Is Evolving, Look At TEDx

In the last couple years, TED Talks have become very popular and many people are aware of the brand and expect any TED event to be engaging and entertaining. TED talks and videos are viewed and shared frequently; which helps TED’s mission: to spread ideas. TED is more than a set of conferences, it is a global community of people who seek to share ideas and understand the world on a deeper level. The agenda of the nonprofit foundation that owns TED is to “make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.”So how is TEDx helping us see conference content in a new way?

What is so special about TEDx?

TED has a well-known name and brand image for putting on some of the most inspiring and engaging conferences with a wide range of topics. Thanks to TEDx, the TED conference format was available to structure and organize independent, local events of 100 people or less. TEDx helped generate additional content under the TED brand by allowing local communities to host events and generate content. The goal of TED was to be able to provide opportunities for people all over the world to share their ideas and inspire one another to make a positive change.

TEDx is a combination of an event and a media platform. During TEDx events, TED Talks videos are shown along with live presenters from the area in order to spark engagement and connections on a local scale. Licenses for TEDx events are free and granted on a yearly basis. In order to properly use the license and the TED brand, there are very specific rules and policies that must be followed by the event organizers and planners. For instance, all talks at TEDx events must be posted online, following that TED mines the strong talks and puts them onto their website.

“Short-and-Sweet” Conference Content

One of the most notable thing about TED talks, and attributing to their popularity, is the structure of the conference content. They accommodate the shorter attention span of people presenting ideas in a brief, engaging, and well-articulated presentation. All of TED Talks and TEDx sessions are under 18 minutes and are structured into segments. The first part is all about showing the audience who they are, their story, and what led them to be on the stage. The second part is all about sharing their idea and explaining their message with facts and evidence, as well as, the effect the concept should have on the audience.

Community-sourced conference content

Three Components of TED’s Success

First and foremost, TEDx is essentially an idea generation machine that stores and shares all the content from TED events in 170 countries within a single, easily accessible location. It is essentially a large library of ideas from world-wide contributors. Anybody has the chance to share their idea and message in front of their local audience and on a large global platform.

The TED brand provides strategy, guidelines, organization and the recognition and awareness as an international media brand. Using the TED brand requires organizers to adhere to strict guidelines and rules to make sure that TEDx events are organized and managed under TED’s brand standards and maintains the image and reputation of TED.

The most important component to TED’s success is the fact that both the online and live audience promote the brand while the videos are shared. Their live and online presence is seamless blur the lines between TED being an event, a media platform, or both. Every part of a TED conference or event works together to promote the other parts of the brand in one, cohesive message. This is how TEDx is changing conference content.

Redefining Traditional Conference Design

More and more event professionals are working to have clear messaging that links their digital presence with their physical events. TED and TEDx conferences and events have excelled at merging their live events with an online conference content network. Jay Herratti, the deputy director of TEDx stated, “At TED, we see community and content as two parts of the whole — inseparable and mutually dependent.” Herratti also commented that, “Every great TED or TEDx Talk begins with an event with a stage and an engaged and attentive audience. This relationship between the speaker and the audience is what gives energy and authenticity to each talk.”

TEDx has allowed TED to generate more content and ideas from around the world via small-scale, community TEDx events. The talks and sessions during TEDx events are then curated and shared on a global measure. Instead of organizers planning every detail of the event such as content, speakers, and presenters, TEDx co-creates content and crowdsources ideas from the community. Conferences are beginning to shift from a live event in a single location available only to physical attendees into the foundation for a network of localized branded conference content.

This is a proven method for utilizing crowd-sourced conference content to better appeal to a very broad audience. It’s true that TED has an indisputably well-known brand and with that, audiences know that the content will have great value. But the concept is something that can be applied to events across the industry landscape. Here are three key lessons that TED and TEDx can provide for event professionals:

1. Short-and-Sweet

Though we hope the speakers that we choose to present at our events are capable of captivating the audience for 45 minutes to an hour, that doesn’t play into current habits. We all know that we have milliseconds to capture our audience on a webpage, 5 words or less on an email subject line, and so on. Just because you have an insightful speaker doesn’t always mean they’ll have the ability to keep the audience’s interest for the full allotted time. Consider shorter sessions; perhaps one speaker has 2 or 3 sessions each with a different, focused message.

2. Share it!

Event professionals are always looking for ways to increase revenues and one common facet of this is with the video collected at the events. The entirety of the conference is available to stream post-event for a “low, low, price of $19.99!” Attendees have already spent hundreds to thousands of dollars to attend your event, they shouldn’t have to pay for the content they missed. Use this opportunity to share the content and use it as a platform to promote the value of the event. Those who didn’t attend may watch the content and be compelled to attend live, in-person the year after.

3. Consider your event as a media platform

You’ve created a brand and presence for your event, give it the proper platform to be shared and discussed. There are a wealth of social outlets that will allow you to do this with little to no funding. Find your tag and stick to it. Find a way to keep your event relevant even in the “off-season”. Follow-up with speakers and audience members. Keep the discussions going.


The definition of a conference is beginning to evolve and change as conferences and other events begin to establish their digital presence. TED is a prime example of evolving to fit into the digital world. Evolving from one large conference into a conference brand that generates a multitude of content through TEDx events at a local level. The physical events act as the foundation for the digital content library while the online platform allows for discussion long after the closing remarks. TED’s strategy to merge live events with digital content has allowed them to increase their reach and brand awareness. Consider this foundation to influence your event. Have you attended a TED conference or TEDx events? What were some lessons that you took from the event?!