As a planning team member for TEDxCharlottesville 2013, for the most part, I knew what was coming. I hoped it would be amazing for the attendees, but I didn’t personally expect to be amazed. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After being involved in countless hours of meetings for over 9 months of behind-the-scenes planning, I knew about each of the speakers and their topics. I was already familiar with the intimate details of the venue, and the technical details of how all of it would work. I had watched presentations about the artistic vision for the event, and seen the stage design and talked through the flow of each of the sessions. I joined in to work through the logistics of the lunch for how to serve 1,000 people lunch in one hour.

I helped the planning team to pick up a million little pieces and manage a myriad of details leading up to the event. I knew all the things still on our wishlist of things to do, that we just didn’t have time to get done. I was completely sleep-deprived; all of us were running on steam.

Once the day arrived, we all showed up way too early at the Paramount, already exhausted and yet filled with nervous anticipation. As I stepped into the auditorium, I was absolutely blown away by an overwhelming feeling of the awesomeness of the event. That feeling didn’t leave, as I watched the many hours of preparation and work unroll before us over the course of the next 12 hours that day.

CHS_LauraThomas_TEDxCharlottesville2013 So many enthusiastic people showed up to spend their day in the audience or to volunteer with us. These folks were really excited! There was great coffee and the most gorgeous display of cupcakes I have ever, ever seen (and I tried to taste each flavor!) There was a huge stack of swag bags that dwindled throughout the day. The technology to run all of the complex details behind-the-scenes worked. There were hundreds of school children attending as a result of community-sponsored tickets.

The Paramount looked more beautiful than I’d ever seen it look. The stage design and lighting was phenomenal. The co-hosts were brilliant, bringing a perfect balance of energy and enthusiasm. Every one of our speakers gave it their all, and it all worked. Lunch for 1,000 people at the Main Street Arena went off without a hitch, and it was delicious!

The entire day was amazing, and it honestly took me completely off-guard. It all just worked, and the result for me was magical.


Guest blog entry: Lisa Stewart, TEDxCharlottesville Steering Committee Member