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Posts tagged ‘Mike Mcallen’

Talking TEDActive with Sarah Shewey

What comes to mind when someone mentions the TED Conferences?

Do you think about a specific presentation – like Bill Gates presentation on malaria?

You know the one – where he opened up a jar of mosquitos in the auditorium. Then he said – malaria doesn’t need to be a poor person’s problem (watch video).  Or do you think about an endless supply of smart people sharing great ideas? Or do you think of cool, inspiring videos that are free to watch and easy to share?

Regardless of what comes to mind first – you eventually draw the conclusion that TED is awesome!

Have you ever wondered how they create this magic? Have you ever wondered what they are doing that you aren’t?

Recently, Mike McAllen and I got a glimpse inside of TEDActive from Sarah Shewey of Pink Cloud Events (pictured above).  Sarah joined Mike and I on a recent installment of Meetings Podcast Going Digital to talk about what they are doing to make the TEDActive Simulcast an awesome experience.

(Listen to the podcast)

For those of you that want the highlights from our conversation – Read on.

TEDActive is Much More than Watching TV

TedActive is the simulcast event that is tied to the main TED Conference. TEDActive attracts people that are ready to create action around the ideas at TED. This event is much more than watching TV. They weave real talks (that are given by real people), social activities and collaborative activites into the experience. These activities help TEDActive participants establish community and create a unique experience of their own – beyond watching the simulcast.

The main conference room has a ton of different seating options.  There are beds, bean bag chairs, lounge chairs, and tons of screens all over to watch the TED Talks. The environment is designed to breakup the big room into smaller groups of 4, 8, 20 or 60 people. If you get a bed – your simulcast screens are on the ceiling (Pictures). The event attracts more than 500 people.

It’s a simulcast and a real event at the same time. Pretty cool, huh?

Participants Create Something Together

The attendees at TEDActive get to determine 1/3 of the content and workshops. In 2010, the attendees and a group of musicians created a music video during the event. Attendees were given a piece of paper and asked to make drawings that matched the event’s theme – What the World Needs Now. Then, a group of singers on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus took recorded a track to go with the pictures and a production team created the video. You can watch that video here:

Why are TED Videos So Engaging?

TED works with speakers to create awesome presentations and to have stage presence. Then, they use about 8 different cameras to film the videos. The shots are positioned so that they will be engaging to people watching online. Sarah makes a point of saying that they use closer shots to make things more intimate. They rarely use the long shots.

Why does the Simulcast Event Work?

We asked Sarah why the simulcast worked. She shared the following reasons:

  1. Live host is the glue for the simulcast.
  2. Localize the event with other activities/experiences and create community.
  3. Coach the Speakers on their delivery.
  4. Video Production (see above).
  5. Broadcast the Video and the slides.
  6. Treat the simulcast as a special event.

Of course, she didn’t talk in bullet points – she elaborated on most of these points in detail. You should go listen to the podcast to hear what she had to say.

Bottom Line

TED rocks! But, you knew that already.

Mobile: What is Your Favorite Event App?

Mobile Apps are changing the way that we communicate, collaborate and share in the same way that the internet did 15 years ago.

Here’s a quick example.

While I was searching for a new house, I would drive through different neighborhoods to see if I liked the area. Then, I used a mobile app to help me find homes that were available nearby.

Mobile Home Search MapThe app displayed homes that were for sale on a Google map interface that included a “you are here dot”. This location based feature allowed me to quickly see what was for sale nearby AND do a quick check for “curb appeal.”

If the home passed this first test, I would tap on the screen and the app showed me 10 photos of the inside. If I liked the home, I would forward the MLS number to my real estate agent and ask him to arrange an appointment. I could do all of that sitting in my car with a few taps.

This single app brought together my location, a map, a searchable database of the homes for sale on the market AND the photos of those homes. The information was available at my fingertips, when I needed it and where I needed it AND it was easy to use.

What Could this Mean for Events?

Think about the possibilities in the context of a large meeting, conference or festival.

What kind of information would be useful to have in the palm of your hand at an event? Think about standing on a tradeshow floor looking for other attendees, or booths. Think about sitting in the conference room with 800 people listening to someone rattle off out of date statistics – that you know are wrong. Think about being at a festival and figuring out how you get to the next venue. Or think about being at the State Fair — where is that Deep-Fried-Snickers-bar-on-a-stick vendor?

The possibilities for attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and organizers at events are numerous.

What is Your Favorite Event App?

Mike McAllen and I are collecting a list of event apps for the next episode of our Going Digital podcast. If you have any meetings or event based mobile applications that you would like to share with others – please send us an email at meetingspodcast at or leave a comment below.

We would be happy to talk about your favorite apps on our show AND give you all of the credit!!

New Meetings Podcast Series – Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith

We need to a better job of talking about the benefits, opportunities and challenges of using technology in meetings and events.

Mike McAllen and I are taking this challenge to heart. Today, we are launching a new show focused on technology strategy, social media and the latest trends and tools in event technology. Our goal is to create another platform for discussing event technology.

We are calling this new show “Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith.” You can listen to the first installment here.

Meetings Podcast – Going Digital with Samuel J. Smith

Using a 20 minute podcast format, we will cover a couple of topics during each show, answer at least one listener question and give you ONE tip that you can take back to your office today and try.

The podcast will be available on Meetings PodcastiTunes and here – on

By making the show available on these three platforms, we hope that we can create opportunities for you to listen to our show while gardening, commuting to work or waiting in the departure lounge. Of course, we would be happy if you listened to the show in any other location that you thought was appropriate as well.

Initially, the show will be sponsored by If you would like to sponsor the show, please contact me at blog (at) or Mike at meetingspodcast at We would be happy to talk to you about a customized program.

Finally, if you have any topics, people, products or news that we should be discussing – please be sure to let us know. We would be happy to include it in our next show.


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