Since its inception in 2012, the TEDxSouthBank annual conference has operated an advocate program. To our knowledge is it the first and only one of its kind in the TEDx world, though an increasing number of TEDx organiser are approaching us to implement their own local version of it within their community. We are proud to continue the program under our new name: TEDxBrisbane.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about the Advocate program.
Is ‘advocate’ just your word for volunteers?
No. All our advocates are volunteers, but not all our volunteers are advocates (some volunteers have production crew and management roles). Our Advocates perform a great many of the on-the-day duties, but just as important is their role as community builders, welcoming and engaging with participants, especially first-time TEDxers.
So what do advocates actually do?
Advocates perform many of the vital on-the-day tasks that make our event possible. Some are obvious, like helping participants register, helping to serve food during breaks or acting as door ushers to prevent people entering the theatre during filming. Others are more hidden, though vital, such as sweeping floors, arranging tables or emptying bins while everyone else is listening to talks.
Advocates also play a vital role in developing our TEDx community here in Brisbane. They contact each participant ahead of the day to welcome them into the community and answer all questions one on one. They help foster meaningful discussions on the day amongst participants, including identifying which participants would benefit from being connected with each other due to a similarity in ideas, goals or challenges. Beyond event day, advocates continue to engage with their allocated participants helping them to stay inspired, put their ideas into action, and make ongoing connections throughout the community. They are a vital part of our TEDx community here in Brisbane. To find out more please read the information in the sidebar regarding what advocates are required to do before event day, on event day and in the next 12 months after the event.
Are participants randomly allocated to each advocate?
No. While this would be far simpler from a logistical point of view, we work hard to try to match participants strategically to the best possible advocate for them. This includes using such things as keyword matching from applications. We can match participants to an advocate based on their goals, their passions or interests, the challenge they are facing, their industry or their native language, mobility or dietary requirements. A key part of our matching protocol is to try to start engineering connections well before event day. This extends beyond matching a single participant to the right advocate for them, to ensuring a hub of participants with similar goals, projects and aspirations all share the same advocate to facilitate rapid introductions.
How do you become an advocate?
We ask those interested in becoming an advocate to apply online in the lead-up to the event. In order to become an advocate, you must be a member of our alumni community (someone who has attended a TEDxSouthBank or TEDxBrisbane live event in person previously).
You can subscribe to our dedicated Advocate Expression of Interest mailing list to receive notice of when we commence recruitment for Advocate roles in the future.
Why do you limit advocate opportunities to alumni?
Every TEDx community, while part of the global TEDx movement, has its own values and character. We find the best people to welcome others into our own TEDx community are those who have experienced it first hand as a participant.
Our own licensee, Juanita Wheeler, first attended TEDxSouthBank as a participant (audience member) in 2012, before becoming an advocate (2013) then a speaker (2014) and eventually the licensee (2016).
Secondly, the mission of TED – Ideas worth spreading, means that we are always struggling to find a balance between allocating tickets to alumni who are already members of our community, and spreading the TEDx message to new first time TEDxers. The advocate program is one way we can provide an opportunity for members of our much-loved alumni community to grow their personal engagement with TEDx.
Do advocates get to sit in the theatre for the talks?
The short answer is no.
The longer answer is maybe, but don’t count on it. As our event is growing in size and sophistication there are more and more tasks that need to be done during session times. Also, ensuring video quality for the talks is optimal means not having people coming in and out of the theatre during talks.
This year, in recognition of the special role that advocates play, and the fact they will likely miss out on seeing all the talks live, we are inviting all our advocates to a special, closed-door speaker rehearsal for a behind-the-scenes sneak peek ahead of the day.
When do applications close?
Applications to become an advocate for TEDxBrisbane 2017 have now closed. To ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to apply for an advocate position in 2018 follow us on our social media platforms and subscribe to receive our email updates.