Let's talk numbers: how much time does it take to prepare a speaker?
April 25, 2015
I am back! In the next series of blog posts I will be focusing on one thing I’m really passionate about: speaker curation.
A bit more than a month ago I’ve been giving a lecture at the meetings industry event Convene. They asked me to talk about TEDx perspective on what does it take to curate an amazing speaker line-up. In the 35min video I’m sharing the entire process of how we work with speakers at TEDxVilnius (to be honest, I wasn’t brave enough to watch the video myself, yet).
While in the video I explain WHAT we do, here I would like to focus on numbers and HOW long we do it.
I have an advantage because the 5th TEDxVilnius just happened a few weeks ago and few of the talks are already online, so it’s easy to count.
TEDxVilnius 2015, photo: Jurga Anusauskiene
Google Calendar also helps:
Speaker scouting Before we confirm a speaker, we always have ‘get-to-know each other’ calls or meetings, to see if the person is really a good fit for the event. Most oftenly they last up to 30min, but could also be an hour+. For this year’s TEDxVilnius I spent 20 hours doing just that.
Speaker hangouts After we confirm full speaker-line-up, we do group Google hangouts for them to get to know each other. This time we had 3: 3 hours.
After group hangouts, personal work with speakers begin. Developing the talk idea, working on a script, rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing: 40 hours spent. If we add email communication/commenting on the talks it’s extra 10 hours at least.
Dress rehearsals Day before the event we run dress rehearsals. 10 hours.
And of course… the event itself.Another 11 hours.
In total it accumulates to 94 hours of work in total. My time alone.
In the speaker curation team we have 3 people + speaker coach that spend more or less the same amount of time, what adds up to a total of 300 hours working on all speakers together, ~14 hours per speaker.
TEDxVilnius 2015, photo: Dmitrijus Matvejevas
But let’s not forget the speakers: this year at TEDxVilnius we hit the record and had 22 speakers: each of them spent 4-5 hours in direct contact with us, plus the invisible time of writing the talk, rehearsing in front of friends, colleagues, and of course not sleeping because of stress (oh yes, that happens!), which I’d say would be on average 6 hours per speaker. ~200 hours per all speakers together.
And all of this for only a 18min talk on stage!
Spending so much time on speaker preparation puts a huge responsibility and stress on every single one of them: most of the speakers report that there is no other conference that gives so much attention to detail and care of how they will look on the stage.
These are the numbers only from TEDxVilnius, there are 12,000+ TEDx events around the world who work as hard as we do. I truly believe that TEDx is setting new standards for other conferences and there is so much to learn for each of us. Especially for those who want to be in a conference business.