Few conference programmers can legitimately call themselves “curators.” Chris Anderson can. With a strong background in journalism, publishing and business, Anderson grew Future Publishing in the UK, sold it and moved on to the California tech boom in the 90′s, founding Imagine Media. I remember watching the Imagine empire grow in California during the dot-com boom. They always had great billboards along Highway 101 south of San Francisco. Imagine created Business 2.0 magazine, a seminal journal of the internet explosion, also the popular games website IGN, and over 100 other publications. In 1996, his success allowed him to create the private nonprofit Sapling Foundation, with the goal of tackling tough global issues by leveraging media, technology, entrepreneurship, and ideas. In 2001 got the conference bug, acquired TED and the rest is history. TED is what every business events should be: focused, passionate, and uncompromising about quality content. Plus, it’s mostly free to anyone with a browser. TED’s presenter guidelines, known as the TED commandments, will be useful to anyone recruiting speakers, especially if you’ve got talkers who are burned out or new to the game. There are a lot of ways to follow Chris: On twitter @tedchris, on the TED website, here’s a great interview with Chris on TED.com, here’s his Wikipedia page
The TED conference is taking place right now. You can get most of the content online, including this 18 minute presentation by Bill Gates on his philanthropy, wherein he releases a jar of mosquitoes on his audience. I watch a lot of TED presentations because they epitomize the best of what can be done in a live presentation, and they remind me of why meetings can be important. Read Virginia Heffernan’s Confessions of a TED Addict. When you plan your event imagine what it would take to get this kind of reaction from attendees. Never forget the 80/20 rule for events: matter what your presentation platform, content determines 80% of your success.