Takeaways from a revered ideas conference; create an identifiable theme for your event, and let it be reflected in your venue atmosphere and speaker lineup.
By Emily McConkey

It’s been a few weeks now since TEDxToronto 2017, and I’m still in awe of what an inspiring and stimulating event it really was. In my last post on the event, Jeff Lohnes, Talent Bureau Partner and TEDxToronto co-chair, shared with me his hope to create an environment that would spark connection and idea-sharing among the audience. As a guest, I had the chance to assess how far this goal was achieved. Without (just) trying to make my boss happy, I can honestly say it was one of the coolest conferences I’ve attended. Here are a few highlights from the experience:


The theme of this year’s conference was legacy. Legacy asks, “What will I leave for the generation after me? How will I make a meaningful difference in the world?” I had this in the back of my mind throughout the day, and was really blown away when I noticed how subtly this theme carried so many components of the event. Nowhere did the speakers talk about legacy itself; rather, they embodied it. Many of the sponsors were local businesses making an impact in their respective industries. The event was catered by Foodee, an alternative catering service that showcased amazing local restaurants through the snacks and meals that were served throughout. The folks behind The Five Minute Journal collaborated on the programs, which invited guests to reflect on what inspired them throughout the conference and think about the meaning of legacy in their own lives. Balanced with these local companies were iconic brands such as Audi, a true leader in its sphere. These thoughtful event-planning decisions really brought to life the chosen theme and fostered a cohesive learning experience for the guests.


Jeff had mentioned that a change of scenery would be coming for TEDxToronto in 2017; while previously hosted at Koerner Hall, this year’s conference took place at Evergreen Brick Works, a stunningly open and vibrant site that really shaped the energy of the event. The venue itself is stunning, and the TEDx organizers did a great job of framing the space with brilliant portraits of the speakers and interactive sponsored displays. The open environment made it easy to move around and find places to meet with friends and mingle over snacks. This combination of pleasing aesthetics and strategic layout fit with TEDxToronto’s connection-focused branding, creating an energetic space for engagement and conversation.


TEDx events tend to be really good at selecting speakers with diverse subject matter, whose individual subjects come together to form a brilliant exploration of innovation and knowledge. While many of the talks discussed lofty ideas surrounding technology, urban development, and societal conflicts, others chose to look inward, and did so with moving effect. We at Talent Bureau were proud to see our pal Jeremie Saunders absolutely kill it in his talk and earn himself a beautiful standing ovation. Guests on my left and right were shedding tears as Jeremie explored his struggle with Cystic Fibrosis and challenged us to contemplate our own mortality and make the most of the time we are given. From an event-planning perspective, Jeremie showcased the power of a well-timed, emotionally candid keynote at a high-stimulus event.

TEDxToronto is a great example of event-planning done with insight, passion, and deliberation. It was a privilege to participate in the experience and to watch industries come together and inspire an audience to grow and learn.