How TEDxSeattle Gave Their Audience a Unique Way to Engage

In a time when the world seems increasingly polarized, TEDxSeattle created a thought-provoking virtual experience to bring the community together by presenting new perspectives and ideas that define the future of Seattle and beyond.

With a diverse group of speakers and an interactive show format that went beyond your typical Zoom webinar, TEDxSeattle’s Other Sides gave us a fascinating blueprint on how to run an effective virtual event.

The pillars of their success? Providing meaningful entertainment, engaging the audience directly, and ultimately rewarding the audience for participating.

Provide Meaningful Entertainment

The core of any event, in-person or virtual, starts with entertainment. Consumers these days, have short attention spans and multiple channels vying for that limited attention, so the entertainment must go beyond the surface. It needs to be meaningful.

For TEDxSeattle’s Other Sides, the topical nature of the conversations presented by the speakers in combination with the intrigue of artistic projects coming to life before the viewers’ eyes provided not just entertainment, but meaningful content. Speakers addressed everything from systemic inequities and racism, to the evolution of urban architecture and the scientific effects of music on the human body.

Musical and artistic performances interlaced  with powerful presentations kept the audience engaged in the show throughout its entirety. The variety and depth of the content laid the foundation for the next pillar of success: interaction with the audience.

Engage Your Audience

While a sturdy base of enticing content can go a long way, let’s remember audiences have short attention spans, and they need more than that. They need a reason to engage.

Rethinking the typical question and answer segments, TEDxSeattle gave their audience not only a reason to engage, but a unique way to do so by leveraging social media and text messaging together. Realizing not everyone has social media or may not want to share in such a public way, TEDxSeattle teamed up with Tagboard and Zipwhip to offer viewers an option to send in questions via text message.

With clear calls-to-action, the event producers garnered meaningful responses from viewers that kept them engaged and added to the overall quality of the event.

The results from these calls-to-action speak for themselves as mentions of @TEDxSeattle and use of #TEDxSeattle on Twitter skyrocketed over 900% the week of the event while text messages flooded the Zipwhip inbox throughout the show.

Reward Audience Participation

Posing a question to your audience is one thing, but rewarding them for participating takes it full-circle, and not only increases the volume of interactions, but grows the positive affinity for your brand. Throughout TEDxSeattle’s Other Sides, participants were rewarded for their participation with likes and replies on social media, and by seeing their answers live on air through Tagboard Producer.

Beyond recognition and responses during the show, viewers also had a chance to enter an online contest to win a Segway.

For organizations small and large, the TEDxSeattle Other Sides experience is one to draw inspiration from for hosting an event. Think about ways in which you can present diverse, meaningful content and entertainment, engage your audience using a mixture of social media and texting, expand your reach, and grow your brand.

We’re here to help however we can. Reach out to us at to get started today, and be sure to tune in to our joint webinar with Zipwhip on how to engage your audience through texting on December 15th.