My Experience Hosting a TEDx Conference


Photo Courtesy of Melis Tumanoglu

The officers of the Think Big club give their thanks to the audience at the end of the 2016 TEDxCHS.

By Madison Hurr, Senior Writer

A year ago, I never would have thought that I’d be hosting a TEDx conference. Being up on stage introducing Emmy Award-winning journalists and successful entrepreneurs at an official TED event–it felt surreal. Watching and participating in an event I have been helping to plan all year come to life was such an incredible experience for me.

During my junior year, my friend got me interested in an entrepreneurship club at CHS called Think Big. Many of the other clubs I was in at the time were not very active and seemed to have been created for the sake of padding resumes, so I did not expect that joining another club would require much, let alone have a significant impact on my future.

As a member of Think Big last year, I learned about and became intrigued by TED talks and had the unique opportunity of being part of the team that brought the first TEDxCHS event to life. I was awestruck when I saw the previous president of the club put the event together and host it all himself. I had absolutely no clue how he went through the entire process of organizing this event while simultaneously dealing with all of the work that already comes with school–especially after he had gotten into college.

This was a special, enlightening opportunity that I didn’t expect to get in high school. I applied for a TED license in November, and throughout the school year, have been working to get the application approved and speakers invited.

Being co-president of a club that plans such a big event has truly helped me improve my management and communication skills, skills that apply to the real world but are not necessarily taught in school. Sure, I could find triple integrals and solve acid-base equilibria problems, but never before was I familiar with the process of finding corporate sponsors, renting out an event space, finding caterers, managing a budget, advertising and selling tickets and handling technical aspects of a large-scale event.

TEDx allowed me to feel more connected to the community, as I invited teachers, parents and students from other schools to attend the event as well. It was great to see younger siblings and grandparents alike coming together to experience TED. TED talks lie on the forefront of innovation, and aside from finding them online, the CHS community does not otherwise have any other means of watching the talks.

TED talks can be ingenious, funny, compelling, informative, captivating or all of the above. Some can even answer questions you would never even think of asking. What I love about TED talks is that they allow me to become part of an interconnected community of thinkers. Having always been a curious person, I appreciate TED talks because they further stimulate me to think beyond the boundaries of what I know. It is also comforting to see that people from all over the world contemplate the same obscure questions that run through my mind and that they put aside their differences to unite in the shared pursuit of knowledge. I think TED talks are a great, convenient and interesting way to learn about things outside the mundane topics that are taught in the classroom.

After TEDxCHS, I hope our audience was able to walk away feeling more enlightened and eager to learn about the world.

After it was over, I felt undivided pride and relief that such a big event was able to be organized and executed successfully. We were able to create something that brought people together and unified them on the shared pursuit of knowledge. Hopefully, we will leave our legacy and TEDxCHS will continue in the following years.