I’d often heard people waxing lyrical about some amazing TED talks they’d seen and years back, we’d had a client refer to the TED site from a content and design inspiration perspective. So, I went on to explore several incredible talks for myself. I had an idea about TED, but TEDx and TEDxGlasgow; that was new to me. So, how did I go from an observer to a judge of the TEDxGlasgow Award?

I initially got involved through a colleague at work, TEDxGlasgow was looking for volunteers in the partnership team and we were hosting a team meeting for them at our office. Their passion and commitment was immediately clear and I thought; why not see what all the fuss is about?

Fast forward a few weeks to the day of the event, at the Royal Conservatoire, with a 6am rise on a Saturday morning. The place was buzzing with dozens of TEDx volunteers, with various teams receiving their instructions and being issued with their TEDx t-shirts. Still not really knowing what to expect, a tad bleary-eyed but excited, my role was to greet the corporate sponsors as they arrived and usher them to their respective chaperone for the day.

As the day unfolded, and I interacted with the people attending, worked with the other volunteers and managed to see some truly awesome talks (some of which brought people to tears, raucous laughter and rousing applause) I was just blown away. As a veteran of many ‘same old same old’ conferences and networking events, I was completely taken aback by the spirit and energy of every aspect of the day. The collective seemed genuinely interested in interacting and engaging with each other. Not forced, but friendly, not contrived, but comfortable.

The day finished and the night continued in the form of a thank you, after-party. The networking and conversation continued in the same vein. The whole thing ended with me being asked to relive the ‘good ole days’ and stand in for the DJ at the last hour, due to him being unable to make it. So, from a 6am start to a 2am finish (with my headphones dusted off), it was an amazing whirlwind of an experience, summing up the spirit of the event.

The main thing that came out of it for me was that I knew I had to get more involved. This was just the beginning.

The following year I returned to volunteer as a day team lead and, when unable to commit to volunteering the next year, I made sure I had a ticket to be there. My great experience meant that I wanted my team here, at After Digital, to be able to experience the same. So, I offered the entire agency the opportunity to attend as a volunteer or to give them a ticket to attend as a guest. With our Manchester office, I’d met lots of fantastic people in the business community there, who I convinced to make the journey north and join in too. They can speak for themselves, but based on the fact that many (if not all) of them are signed up to return again this year, I think I can comfortably say they found it an extremely inspirational and rewarding experience.

So, this year, when Pauline approached me and asked me to be a judge for the first ever TEDxGlasgow Award, I felt truly honoured. The possibility of uncovering a potentially game-changing idea and supporting the individual(s) in taking it to the next level, is both exciting and hugely fulfilling.

The judging panel is made up of five other individuals from a whole range of backgrounds, whom I look forward to hearing about more in the near future. Next week, we’ll come together for the judging day, where the 10 finalists will pitch their ideas and we’ll then look to find two candidates who will present to the TEDxGlasgow 2017 audience on the 2nd June. Having read about these ten ideas, I can’t wait to hear more from these fantastic finalists!

So, what is TEDx? For me, it’s an unparalleled, extraordinary experience.